How to Improve the Appearance of Scars

In plastic surgery we are always thinking of new ways to improve the appearance of scars. Aesthetically, we place scars in places where they will be the least visible. However, sometimes scars do not heal the way we would like. When a scar is not healing perfectly, there are many options to consider. This resource will provide a quick overview of scarring, and how to improve the appearance of a scar.

 

Will I have a scar?

Any injury or surgery on your skin may result in a scar. Scars never go away, but they will improve over time, becoming lighter in color and less raised as they age.  In some cases, scars will become more prominent and cause discomfort. How your skin heals depends on many factors including the location on the body, your age, and genetics.  If you notice your scar appears to be worsening in appearance, there are many options available to you.

 

When will my scar look better?

You may see many changes that occur during the healing process. Within the first ten days there will be little change. After this time you may see some redness along the incision line. This is a normal part of the healing. The incision may look like this for 2 to 4 months. It may also appear more red and raised before it looks better. In most cases, scars continue to improve for 1 to 2 years.

 

What can I do to make my scar look better?

Although there are many products on the market claiming to improve scars, except for silicone based products, there is little good evidence that they actually work.

A scar that is already healing normally does not typically require special scar treatments. You should apply a moisturizer of your choosing that your skin tolerates well to keep the skin well hydrated. This can be something like Aquaphor or moisturizing lotion. After the first few weeks, scar massage is also important to help break up scar tissue formation underneath the scar. This is gentle pressure that can be applied 1-2 times daily. If we notice your scar showing signs that it may be less than ideal, a silicone based scar gel can be used depending on your procedure.  Silicone scar treatments come in two forms, silicone sheets or silicone ointment/gel. Silicone sheets are applied to the incisions and worn 24 hours per day. They may be removed during showers as needed.  Each sheet lasts about 1 month.  Silicone sheets can be washed; as long as they are still sticky, you may continue to use them. Silicone ointment/gel is applied to incisions 1-2 times per day and can be purchased over the counter.

If silicone treatment fails to improve the appearance of your scar, steroid injections (kenalog) may be considered. We can do these injections in the office. Typically, we wait at least 1-2 months until after surgery to consider a steroid injection. If more than one is needed, we will wait at least 1 month in between treatments.

Additionally, we have a MedSpa that offers many services to help improve the appearance of a scar that is not otherwise healing how we would like it to. The options that our MedSpa offers are typically some of the best treatments for a raised or red scar. The different options are listed below, with brief explanations about each procedure.  If you’d like to learn more about any of these treatments, please give our office a call at (312) 266-6240 and we’ll get you set up with a consultation with Amber or Christal in our MedSpa.

 

Sciton Microlaser Peel

The microlaser peel is a quick and effective treatment that uses a special laser to address conditions on the top layer of your skin.  The treatment removes a thin layer of damaged skin to improve texture and provide a more youthful appearance. The procedure is performed in our office and can be custom tailored to your specific skin conditions to help improve your scar appearance.

 

Sciton BBL

BBL (broadband light) is an innovative technology that sets new standards for skin conditions associated with aging, active life-styles, and sun damage. It also provides an excellent treatment to reduce red pigmentation of scars. BBL energy precisely treats age and sun spots, small facial veins, and scars. Your treatment will be tailored to match your skin type and your desired results.

 

Microneedling

Automated microneedling (also known as Collagen Induction Therapy CIT) is the new craze in aesthetic medicine for treating fine lines, acne scars, improvement of pore size, and overall texture of the skin. It also works very well for improving the appearance of scars by creating controlled micro injuries in the skin in order to naturally produce collagen and elastin. It is the body’s response to a controlled wound and reverses aging in the skin. This treatment is safe for all skin types, whereas laser may not be.

 

Halo

Halo™ is the world’s first and only tunable hybrid fractional laser, combining non-ablative and ablative wavelengths in a single pass to maximize results and control downtime. Halo hybrid treatments precisely target years of damage to your skin, but can be especially helpful in treating discoloration and raised appearance of a scar.

 

Is sun block important?

Yes, sunblock is always important.  Reducing sun exposure not only limits signs of aging and decreases your risk for skin cancer, but also plays a role in having your scar heal ideally.  Apply sunblock daily. Please note, some silicone gel scar treatments contain sunblock.  These can be a perfect combination for scars in areas that will have sun exposure. Sunblock alone is also okay if your scar healing is progressing normally.

 

If you have any specific questions regarding scarring for a procedure you are thinking of having, or if you already have a scar that you do not like, do not hesitate to call our office at (312) 266-6240 and speak with one of us about your options. There are many available to you, and we are here to help!

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