How Do I Get Rid of My Scar?
A common aesthetic concern among patients is scarring. Surgical scars, acne scars and scarring from burns are among the most frequently treated scars.
It is important that patients understand that genetics, as well as skin type and ethnicity, play a large role in wound healing and scar formation. Also, certain areas of the body tend to heal much better, and faster, than other areas. An injury on the face is likely to heal quickly, with the resulting scar favorable, whereas injuries to the lower extremities typically take much longer with often less desirable scar outcomes.
I find in medicine, the old mentality is that a scar is a scar. Patients are often told that there is nothing that can be done. While no treatment or cream ever removes a scar, they can certainly help minimize their appearance. Fortunately, the newer mentality is that there are in fact treatments to reduce scars and make them less noticeable. Here are a few key treatment options:
One of the most important aspects in scar treatment is early intervention. The sooner you begin treating the better. Among my favorite topical for the use of scars is medical grade silicone. Products such as Biocorneum and Silagen are silicone gels that can help to flatten, soften and smooth scars and reduce redness and discoloration. Silicone creates a protective barrier, which increases hydration and provides the optimal environment to normalize collagen production. For best results with topical scar products use twice daily with sun protection. For dark scars, bleaching agents like hydroquinone or skin brightening cosmecueticals may be used.
For thick scars (such as hypertrophic scars or keloid scars) Intralesional Kenalog injections are first-line therapy. For years, scars have been injected with this anti-inflammatory medication to shrink the scar down and provide relief from associated symptoms such as pain or itching. Injections also commonly improve redness in scars. Injections are typically performed monthly until the scar subsides.
There are many lasers that can also improve the appearance of scars. For textural changes, fractionated energy can be used to induce a controlled thermal injury in the skin to stimulate collagen. This can significantly reduce how noticeable a scar is, especially for scars that are indented such as cystic acne scars. For red or dark scars, vascular lasers that target vessels and pigment can be used.
While these treatment options will not remove scar tissue, dramatic improvement can be achieved. When asked "How Do I Get Rid of My Scar?" patient education is key and making sure patients have realistic expectations goes a long way.