BACKGROUND: Hypertrophic scars and keloids are associated with abnormal levels of growth factors. Silicone gel sheets are effective in treating and preventing hypertrophic scars and keloids. There has been no report on the change in growth factors in the scar tissue following the use of silicone gel sheeting for scar prevention. A prospective controlled trial was performed to evaluate whether growth factors are altered by the application of a silicone gel sheet on a fresh surgical scar. METHODS: Four of seven enrolled patients completed the study. Transforming growth factor (TGF)-beta1, platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) were investigated immunohistochemically in biopsies taken from five scars at 4 months following surgery. RESULTS: In both the epidermis and the dermis, the expression of TGF-beta1 (P=0.042 and P=0.042) and PDGF (P=0.043 and P=0.042) was significantly lower in the case of silicone gel sheet-treated scars than in the case of untreated scars. The expression of bFGF in the dermis was significantly higher in the case of silicone gel sheet-treated scars than in the case of untreated scars (P=0.042), but in the epidermis, the expression of bFGF showed no significant difference between the groups (P=0.655). CONCLUSIONS: The levels of TGF-beta1, PDGF, and bFGF are altered by the silicone gel sheet treatment, which might be one of the mechanisms of action in scar prevention.