6 Things That Slow Down Scar Healing

After a skin injury, it takes time for scars to heal. Exactly how long depends on a number of factors, including the size and depth of the scar, your genes, your skin type and whether there’s an infection, to name a few. There are a host of other things that affect how quickly your scar fades – things that you can control. Here are 6 things that slow down scar healing.

Sutures

1. Smoking

A rich blood supply to the area helps it to heal faster. Smoking tobacco inhibits your body’s blood flow, slowing down the healing process.

2. Illness

When you’re sick, your body is fighting off infection. Depending on your illness, your body will likely spend less energy on regenerating new skin cells than combatting infection through your immune system. For issues such as diabetes, Lyme disease and cancer, patients can expect wounds and scars to heal more slowly. Aside from chronic illness, thoroughly washing your hands more frequently limits the likelihood of spreading bacteria and getting sick with a cold or the flu.

3. Picking Scabs

Part of the skin’s healing process is to form a scab over an open wound. This protects the body from foreign bodies and is an important step in forming new skin. While scabs can itch, it’s important to leave them in place. Every time you pull off the scab, it sets back the healing process and exposes the area beneath to possible infection. The scab will eventually go away as a scar forms.

4. Excessive Submersion In Water

While moisture helps the skin to heal faster, submersion for long periods of time can slow the healing of scars. After a long soak in the bathtub or a nice hot shower, you may have noticed that your scabs or scars are soft and discolored. Long periods underwater or exposure to running water can make the scabs or softened new skin fall off. This prolongs the healing process. Immersion in cold water for more than a minute or two slows down blood flow, which in turn slows down scar healing.

5. Lack of Sleep

Numerous medical studies show that the body does its best healing when its asleep. Your skin rejuvenates more quickly because your body sends out healing hormones. If you don’t get enough restful sleep, your body can’t regenerate as efficiently and your scars heal more slowly.

6. Vitamin Deficiency

Vitamin C, Vitamin D and zinc help your body heal in different ways. When you don’t get enough of the recommended daily allowance of these important vitamins and minerals, it can take longer for your scars to heal. Eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals gives your body fuel for faster and more effective healing. Zinc, for example, helps boost your body’s immune system and accelerates skin cell renewal. Look for zinc in spinach, wheat germ, lamb and lean beef. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Boost healing by eating high C foods such as broccoli, tomatoes, cabbage and oranges. Foods rich in Vitamin D improve your immune system and help stave off infections. Strong sources of Vitamin D include whole milk, wild-caught sockeye salmon and Shiitake mushrooms.

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Stages of Scar Healing

After you’ve cut or injured your skin, it takes time for it to heal. The skin typically seals itself within 48 hours, depending on the depth of the injury. During this time, the wound stops bleeding. Once it’s initially sealed, the body begins to build scar tissue to fill in the area between the wound’s edges, causing a scar to develop. It can take months or even shutterstock_98637476fjyears before this process is complete. There are three main phases to scar healing. They’re called the inflammatory, proliferative and maturation stages.

Inflammatory
Once the wound is sealed, the inflammatory stage begins. Bleeding stops, but your wound is still red. During the few days of this stage, your body produces antibodies to fight off infections, causing an increased blood flow to the area. Meanwhile, new cells begin to form a protective scab over the wound. During this time, don’t scrub or rub cuts or surgical incisions. They can reopen, setting back the healing process.

Rebuilding
During the next month or more, your skin enters the rebuilding, or proliferative, stage. Collagen is naturally produced while new branches of blood vessels form to carry blood and nutrients to regenerate new skin at the wound site. Your wounded skin gets stronger, but it’s still pink or red. Once your wound is closed and healing, you can begin to use silicone gel or scar reduction sheeting. This lessens the overproduction of collagen, improves the skin’s regeneration process and prevents excessive scarring.

Maturation
Ideally, a scar that has healed nicely is flat, pale and narrow once it has matured. This can take months or years, depending on the depth and size of the original wound. As you age, your scars continue to slowly fade. Silicone scar gel and sheets can still be used in this stage to help scars fade and mature more quickly. Once improvement is no longer seen with the use of the scar treatment cream, it can be discontinued.

Irregular Healing
Not all scars heal well. During the second stage, overproduction of collagen can cause formation of thick red scars that don’t mature properly. These are known as keloid and hypertrophic scars. They remain red and raised, but can improve with the use of silicone scar gel or sheeting, fading and becoming flatter.

To learn more about the effects of silicone scar gel on hypertrophic and keloid scars, read our Scarfade blog entitled, “Options for Treating Raised Scars.”

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Share Your Scar Story on Facebook and Win

Every scar has its story. It’s part of what makes them so memorable. Tell us the story of how you got your scar. When you join our contest on facebook.com, you could win a free tube of Scarfade scar treatment gel. We’ll choose three winners at random from all of the scar story entries we receive by Thursday, July 31, 2014 at noon, Eastern Time.

To enter, visit us on Facebook, like our page and fill out our entry form. You’ll find it under the “Share Your Scar Story” tab. You must be 18 or older and abide by the contest rules to be eligible.

If you want to share a photo of your scar to go with your story, you’re welcome to post on our wall or send us a private message containing your image and your entry name. Scar images are not required for entry.

Kyernan shared her scar story and a photo with us:
“I leaned on the back of a video game chair that I thought had arms. I leaned forward, hands on the arms (that weren’t there) and face met wooden chair frame. Six stiches later… Sweet scar on my forehead.”

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Dan shared his scar story with us:
“My senior year in college, we made the baseball conference tournament near Columbus, Ohio. We ended up winning the game, but about the 4th inning I was trying to break up a double play at second base, and the shortstop, whom I knew from high school, actually jumped over me (me 6’4”, him 5’9”) and landed on my left hand that was trailing behind me in my slide… His metal cleats shredded my batting gloves and left me with a bloody glove and throwing hand. I ended up homering in my last at bat with no batting gloves and a gauzed up hand. To this day, there are still small spots on my hand that I have no feeling.”

Evan shared his scar story with us – and a picture of it, too:
“When I was a teenager, my dad had a sweet Corvette with smoking side pipes. Corvettes sit low to the ground, so when I went to get out, my leg met the side pipe and they had a Evan's_Scarshort discussion about physics… The side pipe won the argument and my leg lost several layers of skin, all of which contained my plethora of freckles. True story.”

Ready to share your story with us? For a complete list of Share Your Scar Story contest rules, visit http://www.scarfade.com/scar-story-contest-rules.html.

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How to Minimize Scars After Hand Surgery

The hands are notorious for developing some of the most perplexing scars. They’re not only highly visible, but they can be very thick and constrictive, causing a limited range of motion. Doctors use hand surgery to treat a variety of injuries and diseases. Taking a few simple steps can help to minimize scars after hand surgery.

Why Hand Surgery?

Since you rely on your hands for a multitude of daily living activities, it’s important that hand dexterity, strength and range of motion are at their best. Sometimes it’s important to do invasive surgical repair to improve current conditions. While it takes the hand time to heal, surgery can improve the ability to use your hands in the long run. Short-term pain and discomfort are part of the process in exchange for long-term improvement. Some common reasons for hand surgery include Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Dupuytren’s Contracture, Skier’s Thumb and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

How Hand Skin is Different

One reason hands heal differently than other parts of the body is because the skin is different. It’s thicker and tougher. The palms have ridges in the skin, but don’t have hair. The nerves in the hand are also more sensitive than other body parts. There are about 200,000 neurons at work to conduct signals between your brain and your hand muscles.

What to Expect After Hand Surgery

Sutures are often used to keep the incision closed. Once the sutures are removed, your wound may separate a little bit, but it’s not in danger of re-opening. This is normal. You might experience peeling or flaking of the skin as well. About a week after your operation, scar tissue begins to shrink and pull, causing pain. The tissues will stiffen, potentially limiting your range of motion.

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Wound Care

Swelling and pain are part of the healing process after hand surgery. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on wound care to speed up the healing process and get the best possible outcome. Keep the area clean and do the prescribed exercises to prevent permanent limitations.

Range of Motion

As new skin forms a scar on your hand, it will feel tight.

  • Reduce swelling and stiffness by elevating your hand above your heart whenever possible.
  • Stretching exercises can improve your range of motion and prevent permanent constriction. It also helps minimize your scars. Consult with your physical or occupational therapist for the types and frequency of exercises.
  • Gently and rapidly tapping on the tender spots on your hand for three minutes at a time, with a one minute break in between tapping, can lessen hand pain.
  • Massaging the scar with your fingertips several times a day will also help relieve constriction. Holding your finger against the scarring skin without moving it across the surface, push the skin sideways, holding the extreme position for about five seconds at a time. Take turns going up, down, back and forth. This is helpful within the first three months of scar development.

Scar Treatment

Once the wound has healed, you can begin to focus on scar reduction.

  • Keep your hands moist and clean while your scar is healing.
  • Applying scar gel can help reduce visibility and thickness.
  • Picking at the scabs and peeling skin will only slow down the natural healing process and make your scar more prominent.

Scarfade silicone scar gel is available over the counter without a prescription. When used regularly for three to four months, it can make hand scars less noticeable. Stop using it when you no longer see improvement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How Saltwater Affects Skin Injuries

sunsetWith summertime in full swing, the beach is a popular destination. A swim in the salty ocean water can be both refreshing and relaxing. It’s also a good way to cool down. If you have recent cuts or wounds that have started to heal, however, you might wonder if this is a good idea. Wounds look different after swimming in saltwater than they do when you get out of the shower. Let’s take a look at how saltwater affects skin injuries.

History

Saltwater has been used to heal skin injuries for centuries. The first record of using seawater as a remedy for stomach ailments and skin wounds dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Saltwater was used in its natural form or dried, then mixed with other liquids to create saline solutions. In early Greece and Rome, saltwater and saline were used to heal scrapes, cuts, mouth sores and other skin irritations. Modern medicine has also harnessed the power of saltwater. Sterile saline solution is a popular choice in wound irrigation and surgical procedures. While saltwater can help wounds heal more quickly, it’s important to go about it carefully. A run into the ocean could have disastrous effects on open skin injuries.

Salty Solutions

One reason saline is a popular addition to medical treatment for wounds is that it kills certain types of bacteria. Unfortunately, it does make some types of bacteria thrive, like Staphylococcus Aureus, for example, so it’s not a good idea to just treat your wounds with saltwater and ignore medical care. Raw salt can sting, and it’s also abrasive, so it can be quite painful and even damaging when used by itself. Salt diluted in water as a saline solution or in seawater has a more soothing quality.

Do’s and Don’ts

While saltwater from the ocean or gulf can sometimes make your cuts heal faster, don’t count on a trip to the beach to make your skin injuries and scars all better. Follow these tips to avoid infections and making your scars more prominent.

  • If you go to the beach, don’t swim in polluted waters.
  • Avoid getting sand and debris in open wounds.
  • Use high SPF sunscreen on your scars when you’re outside.
  • Avoid direct sunlight on newly forming scars by covering up with clothing.
  • Check with your doctor if you have recently had surgery and want to take a trip to the beach.
  • Always rinse off with clean fresh water after a dip in the ocean.

Types of Saltwater

Not all saltwater is created equal. Seawater typically has a very high salt content. Some bodies of water, such as oceans, seas and gulfs, contain an average of about 3.5 percent dissolved salt. Keep in mind that seawater also has other things in it – like sand particles and living organisms. Sterile saline solutions are manmade. They’re used for many things, including cleaning contact lenses. These can vary in concentration. A .9 percent solution, for example, is often used to soothe irritated body piercings. A salt bath using Epsom salts has therapeutic effects on closed wounds and sore muscles.

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Do Some Parts of the Body React Differently to Scarring?

arm scarScarring is the skin’s natural reaction to trauma. Surgery, burns and injuries that breach the skin’s surface often result in scars. New skin bridges the gap between uninjured areas, forming a scar. There are various skin types, and scars tend to heal differently from person to person. If you have several scars, you may have noticed that they don’t form in quite the same way on all parts of your body.  For example, some heal faster and have less pigmentation than others.

Chest and Shoulders

There are similar mechanical and biological differences in the skin around the chest, or sternum, and the deltoid, or upper arm and shoulder. According to the National Institutes of Health, these two areas have the worst results on the body when it comes to significant scarring. Why? Areas of tension tend to produce thicker and more noticeable scars.

Knees and Elbows

Like the shoulders and chest, knees and elbows are prone to heavy scarring. What makes these joints more difficult to heal with flat, pale scars, is that they are constantly stretched. This makes it harder for the skin to regenerate and heal. Scar tissue is tougher than regular skin tissue. It’s tighter and less pliable over joints, often causing constriction and limiting joint mobility. This can be painful and may require scar revision surgery if the effects are debilitating and severely limit mobility.

Ears

Like the deltoids and sternum, ears typically have thicker and more prominent scars. Red raised scars, called keloids, can be found on nearly any part of the body, but are particularly common after ear piercings. Keloids extend beyond the natural borders of the wound. They can be minimized with pressure earrings and topical keloid scar cream.

Legs

Skin on the legs is tighter and tougher than skin on many other parts of the body, which can cause scars to be thicker and more prominent. Leg scars are also more likely to be hypertrophic. Similar to keloids, hypertrophic scars are also red in appearance and rise above the surrounding surface of the skin. Unlike keloids, they seldom grow beyond the natural borders.

Intraoral Tissues

The inside of your mouth is the best healer when it comes to scars. Intraoral tissue stays moist and regenerates more quickly. It’s important to keep the area clean to avoid infection. Infection slows down scar formation and can create larger and thicker scars. Scarring inside the mouth is easier to conceal and causes less self-consciousness than scarring on the more visible exterior parts of the body.

Abdomen and Stomach

With little pressure on the belly, the abdomen and stomach tend to heal well with thinner, flatter scars. Surgical scars can be strategically placed below the bikini line or waistline, so they receive little sunlight and are rarely seen when you’re wearing everyday clothing.

Healing

There are many things that you can do to minimize the effects of scarring on any part of the body. Keep the wound moist and clean until it has healed. Seek healthcare from a medical professional for deep cuts or serious burns. If you have any type of surgery, follow your doctor’s advice for incision care. Avoid direct sunlight, which can cause hyperpigmentation, or bolder coloring. Silicone scar treatment is effective in reducing many types of scars, especially keloid and hypertrophic scars.

To learn more about Scarfade silicone scar gel, visit http://www.scarfade.com/faqs.html

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What You Need to Know About Skin Grafts

Skin grafts are modern technology’s way of helping your body to knit together new skin. Donor skin from another part of your body – or another person – replaces skin damaged due to burns, illness, malformation or injury. There are two different types of skin grafts, full thickness and split thickness, that plastic surgeons use to cover the area in need. Skin grafts result in scars on both the donor site and the graft site.

Types of Skin Grafts

The type of skin graft used affects both the visual results and recovery time. During this surgical procedure, a tool called a dermatone is used to remove skin from the donor site. The donor skin is stitched into place. Both sites are covered with dressings to prevent infection while they heal. A split-thickness skin graft takes only the upper layers of skin from the donor site, allowing the site to eventually regenerate more skin. A full-thickness graft uses the entire dermis to cover the site. Similar to a skin graft is a flap, which takes the full skin layer, as well as muscle, blood vessels, fat and sometimes even bone. A flap is typically used when the area in need has poor blood flow.

Donor Sites

The ideal donor skin is a healthy portion with similar properties taken from another part of the person’s body. Doctors typically try to extract skin from an area that will heal relatively quickly and can be covered up with clothing to hide the resulting scar. Doctors use sites such as the thigh, abdominal wall, back, buttocks, upper arm and back for split-thickness skin grafts. Full thickness donor sites are stitched closed by the surgeon, so areas such as the ear, collarbone, inner elbow, groin and scalp are good candidates. If the area receiving the graft is very large, the skin taken from the donor site may not be as large in area. In some cases, medical procedures involving mesh are used to double the size of the skin before it’s stitched into the new location. This lowers the impact on the donor site.

Recovery Time

Split-thickness grafts typically heal in about two to three weeks. Full-thickness grafts take about twice as long, depending on the depth and size of the area. A flap can take up to two months to heal. It’s important that patients follow the wound care instructions from their surgeon to prevent complications and to minimize scarring.

Minimizing Scars

Scars for full-thickness skin grafts are usually heavier and thicker than split-thickness grafts. They take longer to fade, but there are several things that patients can do to minimize scarring. Very wide or raised scars can be reduced by a plastic surgeon at a later time. Once wounds have healed, a silicone-based scar fading cream or sheet can be applied to both sites to help them heal faster. For example, keeping the body hydrated and avoiding sunlight helps to reduce scars. Although the skin may itch, it’s important to refrain from scratching or picking at the scabs. Keeping dirt and oils away from the surface while wounds are healing reduces the chances of infection, which improves the result.

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How Long Does It Take for a Scar to Heal?

Scars are the body’s way of repairing tissue. Wounds are covered and knitted together with regenerated skin layers that protect the body from germs and further wound injury. There are many factors that go into the natural healing process, each of which can make it faster or slower. How long it takes a scar to heal depends on many elements. Some influences include the type and severity of the injury, skin type, nutrition and use of scar treatment products.

Time Heals

According to the National Institutes of Health, it takes between two and three years for scars to turn pale and the skin to mature. That’s a very wide time span, and it can be disheartening to experience this very slow process, especially when you see the scar every day. You can influence the healing time to some degree; the rest is up to your body. Different skin types naturally show scars more prominently than others.

The Wound

The size and depth of the wound are the biggest factors. Any injury that extends below the outer surface of the skin will likely form a scar. The deeper the wound, the deeper the scar. The larger, wider and more severe the injury, the more involved the healing process. Burns, for example, can destroy the nerve endings and capillaries. Surgical incisions that cut the tissue below the outer skin layers usually take longer to heal than a skinned knee from a fall on the sidewalk. When the edges of the wound touch each other, skin cells can migrate and close over the wound in a day or two. When the sides of the wound aren’t touching, it takes longer.

What Takes So Long?

After an injury to the skin, the body sends cells to the wound that can build new skin and tissue. After it stops bleeding, a scab develops. During the first few weeks, natural collagen fills in the gap around and under the scab, forming new skin – a scar. Normal scar tissue slowly grows thicker and then smoother. Collagen production stops after a few weeks. Capillaries form to deliver blood to the injured area, helping it to heal more quickly. The scar isn’t quite as strong as the original skin. It becomes flat and takes on a skin color closer to that of the surrounding area. Abnormal scar tissue, such as hypertrophic or keloid, may never completely heal or fade without additional scar treatment.

Good Health and Proper Nutrition

There are several factors of good nutrition that can influence your scar’s healing time.

  • Eating foods rich in vitamin C helps the body produce collagen.
  • Drink plenty of fluid to keep the body hydrated and the skin moist.
  • The body does its best healing during REM sleep.
  • Nicotine makes blood vessels constrict, minimizing blood and oxygen flow.
  • Stress slows down the healing process.
  • High blood pressure, diabetes and circulatory conditions slow down healing.

Age

Taut skin is more resilient than skin that has lost its elasticity with age. The more resilient your skin, the faster your scars are likely to heal.

Scar Treatment

Using one or several types of scar treatment can help the repaired tissue to be less noticeable, and in some cases, it does go away.

  • Silicone Sheeting and Gel – Silicone scar removal products reduce the production of collagen without leaving the body vulnerable to infection. Scarfade, for example, can be applied daily as soon as the wound heals. You should use the product until no further improvement is noticed, which is usually about three months or so. It won’t harm you to continue using it beyond maximum improvement.
  • Massage – Massaging the wound and the surrounding area every day is believed to help break down scar tissue and lessen constriction over joints.
  • Steroid Injections – Corticosteroid injections can reduce large scars, but may also result in the shrinking of fat deposits and thinning of dermal layers in the area. Some patients also have a change in skin pigmentation with steroid shots.

To learn more about Scarfade anti scar cream and sheeting, and how it reduces scars, visit our home page at www.scarfade.com.

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How Age Affects Scarring

age and scarringOne part of the aging process is a change in your skin. There is a natural progression of how your skin looks and reacts from childhood to adult years to the senior citizen. Age plays a prominent role in the healing process of skin-related injuries and the development and healing of scars.

Childhood Scars

Kids are resilient. They have a keen ability to bounce back from many different things, including cuts and other wounds. Children usually have a strong, vigorous response when healing from physical trauma. As a result, their scars are thicker and hold a pink pigmentation longer than adults’ and seniors’. The advantage is that most childhood scars will fade with age.

Depending on the location of the scar, they may either shrink or get bigger as children grow. Kids’ bodies are constantly growing, and naturally producing collagen – a fundamental building block of scar tissue – is part of the process. As some body parts grow, such as the face, the scars on them may elongate. When the old collagen throughout the body in scars is replaced by new collagen, they can become more elastic, and therefore smaller.

Adults

The skin on adults is fairly elastic. Scars are thinner and are less affected by tension on the skin than kids’ scars. It is, however, impacted by ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun. It’s important to stay out of the sun at any age. When your scars are healing, it’s even more important as an adult to wear sunscreen or avoid direct sunlight on your scars to avoid more noticeable pigment changes.

Seniors

The body’s oil and sweat glands naturally shrink with age, which makes the skin dry. Dry skin takes longer to heal than moist skin. Skin also becomes thinner with age. It’s less resilient and elastic, which makes it harder for wounds to heal. It also makes scar development and healing a longer process.

Keloid Scars

When scars develop, they may take on a reddish or purple tone, growing dense  and fibrous outside the natural borders of the original wound. These are called keloid scars. They tend to be hereditary. Many studies have been done in the medical community on keloid scars. According to a study published in American Family Physician, the most common age for people to develop keloid scars is between 10 and 30. The study also notes that people who have keloid scars and injure their skin elsewhere are likely to develop keloid scars at the new wound site.

Scarfade silicone scar treatment can be used at any age to reduce visibility of scars. It is highly effective on keloid scars. Learn more about our treatment gel here.

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Consistency Is Key In When Treating Scars

scar gel ScarfadeOver the past 15 plus years of speaking with customers about their scars, we have learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to scar treatment.  I was recently asked by a customer  what my number one tip would be when it comes to scar treatment.  Being caught off guard I wasn’t able to successfully narrow it down to just one, so instead I gave the customer my top five.  After the conversation was over, I gave it more thought.    I narrowed it down further and then discussed it with our staff here at Scarfade.  After some friendly back and forth we were able to come to an agreement.

So here it is … our nugget of wisdom, our number one tip for successful scar treatment is …. Be Consistent!  Ok, no big surprise there.  The title of the post kind of gave it away.  Here is why we came up with this as our top tip.  As simple as it may sound, this is the tip more of our customers fail to follow than any other.  So many people start using a scar treatment product with great hopes for amazing results.  After several days with seemingly little to no noticeable improvement, they begin to lose interest and perhaps start skipping a treatment now and then.  Before long they are only using it occasionally and then perhaps not at all.

Topical Scar Treatment products are designed to slowly improve the appearance of scars over an extended period of time.  During this time, it is very important that the user be diligent about following the recommended use schedule.   No scar removal product on the market works immediately.  Generally speaking, a full course of treatment with a good product should range in the neighborhood of 12-16 weeks.  I realize that sounds like a long time and that is why many give up before they ever realize the full potential of the treatment.

Improvement is gradual and difficult to notice on a day to day basis.  For this reason we often recommend that our customers take a picture of their scar before treatment begins and then again every few weeks during the course of treatment.  That way they can visualize the actual improvement they are achieving over larger chunks of time.  This helps them remain motivated to continue treatment.  Another trick is to make a point of treating the scar every time you brush your teeth.  Since most of us brush our teeth twice a day, this practice will ensure consistent use.

Of course, the information above assumes the product being used is truly effective.  There are lots of options available when it comes to topical Scar Treatment products.  We would of course love for you to choose one of our products, but regardless of which one you choose, please make sure it is one with Dimethicone (Silicone) as its primary ingredient.  This is the only ingredient proven via reputable scientific studies to be effective in the topical treatment of scars.  For more information on scars and topical scar treatment products, visit our blog and check out our other articles.

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