Hypertrophic Burn Scars and How to Heal Better

Burns create a unique type of injury to the skin. Unlike a cut, the edges of the injury are rarely close together. Burns often cover large spaces, which makes them harder to heal. How severe the burn is affects the formation of a scar on the skin. Nerve endings damaged by burns can cause loss of feeling in the newly formed skin and sometimes reduce range of motion. A common occurrence in serious burns is the development of hypertrophic scars. These are raised, darker red and more prominent that regular scars, but still stay within the horizontal boundaries of the original wound.
burn-scars
Do Burn Wounds Always Leave Scars?
Until it begins to heal, it’s hard to tell whether your burn will form a scar. Severe burns that require a skin graft to over the wound have a high incidence of scar formation, especially hypertrophic ones. How long the burn injury takes to heal is a good indicator of whether or not it will leave a scar. Studies show that full thickness burns that take three weeks or longer to heal are most likely to scar. Partial thickness burns that are fairly severe, form blisters and heal in two to three weeks may leave scars. Superficial scars that heal in 10 days or less and don’t blister won’t form scars.

Why Are Burns More Likely to Result in Hypertrophic Scars?
One of the reasons that hypertrophic scars form is because there’s a large amount of collagen naturally produced to generate new skin. The collagen fibers in regular scars are less abundant and more organized, so the scar eventually turns pale and flat. The surface on hypertrophic scars forms higher than the surrounding skin. Studies have shown that partial thickness burns that are treated and closed quickly are less likely to become hypertrophic scars than those allowed to heal spontaneously.

How to Heal Burns Better
Here are six tips to help your burn scars heal faster and less prominetly.
1. Immediately after receiving a burn, hold the affected area under cool water for 10 to 15 minutes. If it can’t be submerged or sustained under gently running water, use a cold compress instead. The Mayo Clinic recommends against using ice or cold water on fresh burns.

2. If your burn creates an open wound, or your skin turns black or brown, this is most likely a third degree burn. Seek professional medical attention as soon as possible. The sooner the burn is treated, the less likely it is to scar.

3. If you’ve ever burned your skin, you know that it not only hurts during and after the injury, but it itches through most of the healing process. One of the keys to reducing scars on burned skin is to resist the urge to scratch. Scratching slows the healing process, disturbs the formation of new skin and can also cause an infection.

4. Don’t pop your blisters. This increases the chances for dirt and bacteria to affect the wound, increasing the possibility of infection. Your blisters will eventually degrade on their own.

5. Apply silicone scar gel to the area once the wound has closed. It can prevent scars from forming and help to reduce the prominence of those that have formed.

6. Pressure garments can help to minimize the development of a hypertrophic scar. Consult your physician before attempting do-it-yourself compression therapy.

For more information on Scarfade scar treatment gel, visit scarfade.com.

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Do Chicks Dig Scars?

If you ever saw the movie “The Replacements,” you might have laughed when quarterback Shane Falco, played by Keanu Reeves, tried to rally his football team with words of encouragement. He said, “Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever.” That’s more than just a line in a movie. There is scientific evidence that chicks, in fact, dig scars.

Popular Culture Beliefs

Beyond the portrayal of sexy men with scars in the movies and on TV, there’s a popular culture in the U.S. that connects males and masculinity. With it comes the idea that masculine men are more attractive to women, and that scars on men represent masculinity. Scars are often associated with bravery and good health, according to scientists studying cultural trends.

Chicks Dig Scars

Backed by Science

Several studies back up the perception that guys with scars are typically favored by women. According to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Personality and Individual Differences, for example, women find facial scars on men to be attractive. They associate scars with masculinity, as well. This study also showed that there’s more emphasis associating scars to attractiveness by women looking for short-term relationships than traits associated with long-term relationships such as marriage.

 

In a survey where people were asked to rate the attractiveness of people with and without scars on their faces, men with lighter scars prevailed over those with darker scars and those without scars. The images were part of a series of photographs of the same people in digitally adjusted versions with and without scars. In the same study, men found no difference in attractiveness of women regardless of scar presence or prominence.

 

A study from 2013 on Match.com, an online dating destination, showed that women are not only attracted to men with scars, but also to the scar stories explaining how the scars came to be. Whether listening to these tales is a means of getting to know the man better or because scar stories create a greater sense of masculinity is unknown.

To learn about the history of scar perception and methods of scarification, check out our infographic on “The Evolution of Scarification.”

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Scar Management for Broken Bones

Breaking a bone is painful, regardless of the location and type of fracture you’ve suffered. Breaks can sometimes result in skin injuries, whether it’s from an impact or from surgery afterwards. It’s quite common to have a scar form from skin injuries related to broken bones. It’s also possible to minimize the scar and make it less prominent. There are different types of breaks that result in scars, as well as different ways to manage scars with broken bones.

Broken Arm

Incisions

Simply put, broken bones need medical attention. If they’re displaced, the bones may need to be set. This sometimes involves an open surgical procedure and usually an incision. For example, a rod or a pin may be surgically inserted into the body to provide stabilization and help the bone knit back together. Because several layers of skin are cut open, the surgical incision is sutured, then stitched or stapled together. Depending on the location of the break, your surgeon may be able to strategically place the incision so that it’s less noticeable when it heals.

 

After a few days to a few weeks, the sutures or staples are removed. New skin eventually forms in the incision area, creating a scar. After your cut has closed, the area can be treated to minimize scars. If the scar is very wide, you might be a candidate for scar revision surgery. After an operation, keep the area moist and clean as you would with any type of cut. You can also use scar revision cream on the pink skin. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on exercising and massaging the skin to minimize your scars and maximize your range of motion.

 

Open Compound Fracture

When a broken bone pierces the skin, it can be even more excruciating than a closed fracture because the skin and your nerves are traumatized. This type of injury creates jagged-edged wounds, which don’t heal as clean and clear as an incision. Depending on how the fracture happened, you could have dirt or debris in the wound. This can complicate the healing process and even result in an infection. It’s important to work closely with your doctor to make sure that you have the best outcome. The wound may not be in a straight line, but careful wound closure by a professional can help to reduce the size and shape.

 

After the wound is closed and the scab has fallen away, you can see a physical therapist to begin scar massage therapy. This is especially helpful in areas near the joints, where the less elastic, newly formed skin can constrict your range of motion if it’s not managed properly. Silicone scar gel is effective in minimizing compound fracture scars and helping them fade, even if they’re raised or bright in the beginning. Other ways to manage open compound fracture scars include monitoring them for infection, keeping your body hydrated and elevating the affected part of your body above the heart when possible.

 

Skin Injuries

Sometimes a bone can fracture without breaking the skin’s surface, but a blow to the outside of the body can still result in a cut or a gash. These wounds can be treated and cleaned by medical personnel at the same time as the fracture. You might need stitches or skin glue, depending on how deep it is. On the other hand, you might just need a bandage to help it heal faster.

 

During rehabilitation of your broken bone, be sure to follow your physician’s and therapist’s instructions for best healing results on the fracture and the related wound. Don’t pick at the scab that forms, even if it’s itchy. Let it fall away on its own so that new skin can grow underneath. It’s helpful to keep your scar out of the sunlight to prevent it from becoming hyperpigmented. Once your wound is closed and new skin is forming a scar, you can use scar treatment gel to minimize the intensity. One option is to use sunscreen on top of silicone gel sheeting to prevent UV exposure from sunlight.

 

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Talking to Your Kids About Scars

While scars can be traumatic on a physical, emotional and psychological level for anyone, they’re especially difficult for children. If your child has an injury that develops a scar, it’s important to talk to your kids about it sooner rather than later. It’s also helpful to talk to your immediate family members to help make scars and their causes a less sensitive subject.

skateboarding-injuries

Causes of Scars

There are countless causes of scars on kids. The most common are skin conditions, surgery and accidental injuries. Younger children may have never seen a scar before and show concern or curiosity. One helpful way to explain it is that when you have a boo-boo, or ouchie, that’s how your body fixes it. Sometimes it goes away, and sometimes it doesn’t. Everybody has scars, but they all look different because we all heal in different ways.

 

Addressing Scars on Your Child

If your child has a skin condition or a wound that develops scarring, there will come a point in time where you’ll need to explain why the skin looks different. You have two options. You can wait until a question comes up, or you can bring it up on your own. If you choose to broach the subject of an incision, wound or blemish, a good time to talk about it is while you’re changing bandages or caring for the soon-to-be scar. Being matter-of-fact about things can make it seem more like a  normal part of life, and therefore less frightening.

 

Explain that everyone has a scar story. It’s helpful to show your child any scars that you have. Tell the story of each one; explain how you got them. If your child has an existing scar, you can tell the story of how that one came to be.

 

Overcoming Scar Anxiety

They physical pain associated with injuries that cause scars can also have a profound effect on how your kids view their scars. One that brings back scary memories can also bring up negative feelings as a scar develops. Talk about the incidents, the wounds, the scars and any related feelings. A reminder that everything is all better now can help to soothe feelings of fear and resentment. Point out that feeling better on the inside makes the way things look on the outside seem better. Assure your children that you love them no matter what. This bolsters confidence and self-esteem. If negative feelings persist, it might be helpful to consult a pediatrician and child psychologist to help bring closure to an incident.

 

Scar Medicine

If your child has a recent wound or blemish, you can use silicone scar gel on it to help diminish the scar. Certain types of scar medicine, such as Scarfade, can be safely used on kids. When you’re treating the area, this is a good time to explain that medicine can fix things, including skin injuries and scars. Medicine can make you feel better or keep you from feeling worse. As scars heal, they become less itchy and may even fade away permanently.

 

Addressing Scars on Others

Kids are inquisitive by nature. They’re bound to ask about their own scars and scars on others. While they may mean no harm, it can be upsetting for other people to talk about their scars – especially kids and strangers. It’s important to point out to kids that scars on the outside don’t change who you are on the inside. At some point, you may need to address the idea that it’s not polite to ask about visible scars unless someone volunteers the information. It’s also not nice to make fun of people just because they look different. Scars happen to everyone. Explain that some are bigger and brighter than others, but it doesn’t change how you feel about the person on the inside.

 

For more information on the scar healing process, read our blog about “How Long Does It Take for a Scar to Heal?

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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.”

Kyernan's_Scar

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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