Now that we are a few weeks into a brand-new year, many of us are working on resolutions (and hopefully sticking with them!). If you are hoping to feel more positive and less self-conscious over your appearance but afraid there is nothing you can do about physical scars, guess again – you may indeed be able to fix them (or at least make them less noticeable).
What are Scars?
Scars are remnants of wounds that have healed following an accident, injury or disease. They are made of fibrous tissue and vary in size, shape, color and texture. There are four main types of scars; it’s important to know which you have, as this will determine the treatment you can expect to receive.
- Subtle scars are characterized by minor discolorations or surface irregularities and do not cause physical discomfort. Examples include acne scars and those resulting from minor injuries or prior surgeries.
- Hypertrophic scars are made up of thick clusters of scar tissue that develop over a wound site. They are usually raised, are often red in appearance and may cause some discomfort. These scars can widen over time.
- Keloids are larger and may be painful or itchy. They extend beyond the dimensions of the original wound and can appear anywhere on your body, but usually develop in areas with little underlying fat.
- Contractures occur where there is a significant amount of tissue loss and are common on burn victims. They restrict movement when skin and underlying tissue pull together during the healing process.
The good news? A plastic surgery procedure known as scar revision surgery can help improve the condition and appearance of most scar types.
Scar Revision Surgery
Once it is determined you are a candidate for scar revision surgery and your surgeon has decided which technique to utilize, you will be administered either a local or general anesthetic (or in some cases an intravenous sedation), depending upon the type of procedure. Different types of scar revision surgery include:
- Topical treatments to help the wound close and heal. These include gels and tapes to treat scars and discoloration.
- Injectable treatments are used to fill sunken or depressed scars. They rely on steroid-based compounds to reduce collagen formation but must be repeated periodically in order to maintain results.
- Surface treatments soften scar appearance and reduce uneven pigmentation by removing the top layers of skin or altering the existing tissue. This is the most common type of scar revision technique; popular options include dermabrasion, laser therapy, chemical peels and skin bleachers. Occasionally, deep scars require an incision for surgical removal.
Following the procedure, you are likely to experience minor swelling, bruising and discomfort for a week or two. The healing process continues as your scars gradually fade over time. Most results are long-lasting or permanent, but results may take several months to a year to become readily apparent.
It’s never too late to resolve to improve your appearance! If you have scars you would like to remove, contact your Wynnewood plastic surgeon to learn more about treatment options.