Our skin is one of the most astounding and versatile organs in the body. Though it does a spectacular job keeping our organs safe from day to day, injuries can leave lasting marks. Burns, cuts, or other traumas like surgery sometimes cause scarring.
By themselves, scars are relatively harmless and don’t usually pose any medical issues. However, if you end up with a large scar in a visible area, you may be wondering how to treat it other than hiding it under clothing. The simple answer is: Everyone’s skin heals differently. Some of us develop stretch marks or scars much more readily than others, and the same goes for how quickly these heal or fade over time.
Of course, genetics aren’t the only thing that affects how your scars heal. Environmental factors like sun exposure, stress, and diet can all play a part. And, there are some proven habits and methods to help reduce the appearance of scarring.
How Do Scars Form?
Scars are one of the body’s natural ways of healing after an injury. Their appearance and treatment vary widely depending on several factors such as the depth and size of the wound/cut, and the location of the injury. Your age, genetics, gender, and skin type all play a role too.
The Types of Scars
Scars come in several different types.
This type of scar is the result of your body overly aggressively healing. Over time, keloid scars can extend beyond the initial injury and may even hamper a full range of motion. There are several treatment options available, including surgical removal, steroid injections, or silicone sheets to flatten the scar’s appearance.
In cases of a small keloid, cryotherapy – or precision freezing using liquid nitrogen – can be very effective. You can also take preventive measures, including the use of pressure treatments or gel pads, early on. Keloid scars are most common among people with darker skin tones.
After a burn, the body can develop what’s known as a contracture scar. These scars have a tendency to tighten skin, impairing movement. More severe injuries can cause this type of scarring to affect deeper tissues such as the muscles or nerves.
Hypertrophic scars are red, raised scars similar to keloids, but that stay within the boundaries of the initial injury. Steroid injections and silicone sheets can flatten the scar and provide treatment.
If you’ve struggled with severe acne, you probably know all about acne scarring. There are several types of acne scars, ranging in severity from deep pits to scars that appear wavelike or angular. Treatments vary depending on the type of scarring.
What Are My Treatment Options?
We’ve discussed a few of the available treatment methods. However, that only scratched the surface of the many medically proven ways to help scars fade faster. Over-the-counter or prescription gels, ointments, and creams can all help in treating scars caused by injuries, cuts, or other wounds. If you’re concerned about the appearance of a scar following a cosmetic procedure, be sure to talk with your doctor about these products to see if they are an option. If not, some prescriptions can help. These treatments can include oral antihistamines or steroids to reduce itching or discomfort caused by sensitive scarring.
Similarly, if you’re struggling with scarring caused by severe acne, talk to your dermatologist. Your doctor can assess your unique situation and recommend the use of pressure treatments to treat scarring and act as a preventive care step.
For deeper scars, surgical techniques are available to remove or treat their appearance. Some of the most popular include excision, skin grafts, dermabrasion, or laser surgery. Skin grafts use skin from another part of the body, often for patients who’ve suffered severe burns.
If your scarring impairs function, surgery can also work to address functional issues. If a recent surgery caused scarring, it’s best to wait at least a year before deciding on scar treatment. Over time, most scars fade and become less noticeable, especially when kept out of the sun.
Steroid injections can also be an effective way to treat scars that stick out, like hypertrophic or keloid scars. Dr. Tim Sayed can use this treatment alone or in combination with other methods. In some cases, the use of collagen or other fillers may help reduce the appearance of pitted scarring, though this is not generally a permanent solution.
Schedule a Consultation
If you have any further questions about scarring or scar treatment, Dr. Sayed is here to help. To schedule an in-person consultation at our San Diego or Newport Beach offices, please give us a call at 858-24SAYED or contact us online today.