Understanding Scar Treatment: Initial Steps

Written by Dr. Evelyn Sterling

Dr. Sterling is known for her compassionate demeanor and personalized approach, taking the time to understand each patient's unique concerns and expectations. Her dedication to patient satisfaction and safety has earned her the trust and loyalty of countless individuals seeking cosmetic enhancement.

Scars form as part of the skin’s natural healing process after injuries, diseases, or surgeries. While scars are generally permanent, their appearance may improve over time, up to two years, depending on the injury’s severity, wound size, and location on the body. Beyond this period, significant fading is unlikely. Factors such as age, genetics, and ethnicity can influence how prone an individual is to severe scarring.

To reduce scar formation, it’s advised to apply antibacterial ointments or petroleum jelly to maintain moisture, change bandages regularly to keep the area clean, avoid picking at scabs, and limit sun exposure to the injured area. Despite these efforts, scarring can still be unpredictable and may vary in appearance, potentially affecting one’s quality of life significantly.

There are many treatments available to help improve scars’ look and alleviate discomfort. Seeking medical advice is recommended for scars that cause pain, itchiness, restrict movement, or cause distress. The scar type will guide your healthcare provider in recommending the most suitable treatment.

Topical Treatments
Topical treatments, often the first step, include over-the-counter options like corticosteroids, antihistamine creams, and anesthetic ointments to ease healing and reduce discomfort. Prescription-strength creams may be used for more recent, pink scars to prevent excessive scarring. Silicone treatments, available as sheets or gels, help hydrate scars and are effective when used for extended periods daily. Silicone gels dry quickly and are easy to use, making them a convenient option found in most pharmacies.

Injection Treatments
For raised, thick, or red scars, corticosteroid injections can reduce inflammation and discomfort. The treatment plan may involve multiple injections over several months. Filler injections are used to elevate depressed scars, providing immediate, though temporary, cosmetic improvement.

Surface Treatments
Treatments like skin resurfacing can remove damaged skin layers, allowing new, smoother skin to emerge. Techniques include dermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser therapy, each with varying recovery times and effects on the skin’s appearance. These treatments can address surface irregularities and discoloration, making scars less noticeable.

Surgical Treatment
Scar revision surgery can alter scars’ position or shape, with the technique chosen based on the scar’s size and location. This may involve removing scar tissue and using a flap of healthy skin to reconstruct the area or using skin grafts for larger scars. Z-plasty and tissue expanders are other surgical options to minimize visibility or relieve tightness.

With the wide range of treatments available, consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon is crucial to determine the most suitable approach. Combination therapies might be recommended, and your doctor will discuss the potential risks, benefits, and realistic outcomes of your treatment plan.