Scar removal treatment refers to the various procedures and techniques aimed at reducing the appearance of scars on the skin caused by injuries, surgeries, burns, acne, or other skin conditions. While it is challenging to completely remove scars, these treatments can help improve the appearance, texture, and color of scars, making them less noticeable.
The specific scar removal treatment used depends on the type, size, and severity of the scar.
Types of Scars
Hypertrophic scars: Hypertrophic scars are raised and thickened scars that form at the site of an injury. They remain within the boundaries of the original wound and may improve over time but do not extend beyond the injury site.
Keloid scars: Keloid scars are similar to hypertrophic scars but extend beyond the boundaries of the original wound. They can be thick, raised, and have a smooth and shiny appearance. Keloid scars can grow larger over time and may be more challenging to treat.
Atrophic scars: Atrophic scars are characterized by a loss of tissue, resulting in a depression or sunken area on the skin’s surface. They can occur due to conditions like acne or chickenpox.
Acne scars: Acne scars are a specific type of atrophic scar that forms as a result of severe acne. They can be shallow or deep, and their appearance may vary, such as ice-pick scars, boxcar scars, or rolling scars.
Contracture scars: Contracture scars typically occur after a burn injury and can cause the skin to tighten and restrict movement. These scars can be deep and may affect underlying tissues and structures.
Stretch marks (Striae): Stretch marks are a form of scarring that occurs due to rapid stretching of the skin, often during pregnancy or periods of rapid weight gain. They appear as long, thin streaks and can be red, purple, or white.
Surgical scars: Surgical scars result from surgical procedures and vary in appearance depending on the type of surgery and the individual’s healing process.
Traumatic scars: Traumatic scars form as a result of accidents or injuries, such as cuts, abrasions, or wounds.
Some common scar removal treatments include:
- Topical treatments: These include over-the-counter or prescription creams, gels, or silicone sheets that can be applied to the scar to help flatten and soften its appearance over time.
- Laser Resurfacing Treatment: Laser treatment is commonly used for various types of scars. It can stimulate collagen production, which helps to improve the texture and color of the scar. Different lasers may be used, depending on the scar type.
- Dermabrasion or Microdermabrasion Treatment: This procedure involves the controlled removal of the upper layers of the skin, helping to smooth out the surface and reduce the appearance of scars.
- Chemical peels: Chemical peels use chemical solutions to exfoliate the skin, promoting new skin growth and improving the appearance of scars.
- Micro-needling: This treatment involves using a device with fine needles to create tiny punctures in the skin, stimulating collagen production and reducing the visibility of scars.
- Surgical scar revision: In some cases, surgical techniques may be used to remove or improve the appearance of scars. This can include techniques like scar excision, where the scar is cut out and the wound is closed with sutures.
- Soft Tissue Fillers (e.g. hyaluronic acid) Treatment: Various injectable substances are available to elevate indented soft scars. The amount of material injected will vary with the size and firmness of the scar. Improvement is immediate but is not permanent and treatments often need to be repeated.
- Punch Grafts and Punch Excisions Treatment: Punch grafts are small pieces of normal skin used to replace scarred skin. A tiny circular “cookie cutter” is used to cut a hole in the skin and remove the scar. The area is then filled in with a matching piece of unscarred skin, usually taken from the skin behind the ear. The “plugs” are taped into place for five to seven days as they heal. Punch excisions, on the other hand, involve the use of stitches to close the holes produced by the tiny skin punch.
- Subcision Treatment : This is a process used to treat deep rolling acne scars by separating the skin tissue from deeper scar tissue using physical (needle movement under the skin) and sometimes chemical (saline injection) means. This allows blood to pool under the affected area as well as to break up tethered scar cords, eventually causing the skin to elevate. Several sessions are often required and there is often bruising for 7-10 days.
The benefits of scar removal treatment can include:
Improved appearance: Scar removal treatments can lead to a smoother, more even skin texture and a reduction in scar visibility, enhancing the overall appearance.
Boost in self-confidence: For individuals who feel self-conscious or distressed about their scars, scar removal can provide a significant boost in self-esteem and confidence.
Functional improvement: In some cases, scar removal treatments can also improve the function of the affected area, particularly if the scar tissue was causing discomfort or limited movement.
However, it’s essential to note that scar removal treatments may not completely eliminate the scar, and results can vary depending on individual factors, such as the scar type, age, and skin type. Some scars may be more challenging to treat than others.
Treatments can have some side effects:
Redness and swelling: Some treatments, like laser therapy and chemical peels, can cause temporary redness and swelling in the treated area.
Pigment changes: In some cases, scar removal treatments may lead to changes in skin pigmentation, resulting in either darker or lighter areas around the scar.
Scarring: While the goal of scar removal treatments is to improve the appearance of scars, in some instances, there may be a risk of developing new scars or making the existing scar worse.
Infection: Any invasive procedure carries a risk of infection, although this is relatively rare when performed by a qualified healthcare professional in a sterile environment.
Scar Removal Treatment – Frequently Asked Questions
A doctor should discuss potential side effects and risks with the individual before performing laser procedures. The side effects may depend on the type of laser, the severity of the scar, and the person’s skin tone. Some of the more common side effects include: • minor bleeding • discomfort • skin infection • skin crusting • skin discoloration • swelling
Again, depending on the severity of your skin condition, you may need to undergo about one to three sessions. These treatments can be done at four to six-weekly intervals.
Methods for improving the appearance of scars include: Topical treatments, such as vitamin E, cocoa butter cream, and several commercial skin care products like Vaseline and Aquaphor that are sold over the counter may be somewhat effective in helping to heal scars.
Scar revision is an outpatient surgery performed under local anaesthesia. Unless the scar is on a part of the body that would interfere with daily activities, patients can usually return to work the day after the surgery.
Candidates for scar revision are individuals who are in overall good health and have one or more scars that they find visually unappealing. Every scar is different, but candidates for scar revision usually have one of the following: • A scar that is excessively wide. • A scar that is irregularly shaped. • A scar that notably protrudes or is indented from the surrounding skin. • A scar that is significantly lighter or darker in colour than the surrounding skin.
Yes. Even plastic surgery results in scars. Scar revision may reduce the appearance of your scar or correct factors such as scar widening, discoloration, elevation, or depression. Aftercare is equally important as the scar revision procedure itself. It is important to follow recommendations regarding scar massage, sunscreen, and other topical treatments as your scar matures to optimize healing.
Each scar is unique and there are just as many ways that scars can be made less prominent. For example, if your scar appears irregular or widened, it may be converted to a narrower linear scar. Other scars may be reoriented to follow natural crease lines. A scar on the forehead, for example, is often more subtle when it follows the natural transverse wrinkle lines vs. one that is oriented obliquely. There are many options for scar revision and a customized plan will be made based on your scar and any risk factors for increased scarring.
Scar reduction may work for many scars to reduce the final appearance. It will not completely remove a scar and may not be an option in certain cases. Understanding your goals and determining whether they may be achieved through scar reduction is a main focus of your plastic surgery consultation and may increase the likelihood of a successful surgical outcome.
Scar reduction may be an option for breast surgery scars depending on your presentation and concerns. It is recommended to wait a full year to ensure that your scars are fully mature. It may be possible to improve areas of scar widening or elevation through scar reduction.