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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Options for Treating Raised Scars

keloid scarScars are the body’s way of healing injuries. When the skin is injured, the body responds by building a bridge of collagen and new skin cells to close or cover the wound. In cases of cuts, punctures, incisions or other penetrating injuries, the new skin fills in the gaps. This is a slow process. Early on in the formation process, the new skin may take on a brightly colored appearance. It is also commonly raised just above the existing skin’s surface. Over time, the skin may lessen in its color intensity and eventually flatten. When the body produces too much collagen to bridge the gap, more prominently raised scars appear. These are called hypertrophic scars. They often develop within a few weeks. Sometimes they extend over the natural boundaries of the existing skin. These irregularly-shaped, raised red scars are often referred to as keloids. There are a handful of options for treating raised scars, both keloid and non-keloid. Some are more effective  than others.

Laser Treatment

Laser resurfacing is effective on small raised scars. A high-energy light burns off damaged skin, creating a smoother surface.

Cryotherapy

The top layers of a scar can be removed through cryotherapy. A freezing agent is applied to the area, causing the skin to blister and diminish its height.

Dermabrasion

Similar to laser resurfacing methods, an electrical machine is used to remove the upper layers of the skin, creating a flatter scar.

Moisture

Keeping a scar moist during the healing process minimizes the formation of heavy, raised scars. This comes in two forms. Staying hydrated is an important factor when your body is developing scars after a skin injury. Covering the wound prevents the new skin from drying out and building more new cells to compensate. This method is used in conjunction with other types of scar treatment.

Silicone Gel

A non-toxic layer of silicone that stays in contact with the skin is an effective method of scar treatment. It can be used in conjunction with most other options, including surgery, cryotherapy and laser treatment. Silicone scar removal products come in gel and sheeting forms. They are used daily for three to four months, or until the scar fades away and no longer shows improvement. Silicone scar treatment is highly efficient in reducing both hypertrophic and keloid scars. Scar gels and sheets keep the skin moist and prevent excessive collagen development.

Steroid Injections

Steroids are injected directly into the scar to reduce redness, itching and burning. They are often used on hypertrophic and keloid scars with some success.

Radiation

Radiation has long been used as a secondary treatment for keloid scar removal in concert with surgery. There is some evidence that postoperative radiation therapy can create tumors, but the National Institutes of Health reports that about 80 percent of radiation oncologists consider this keloid treatment acceptable when proper precautions are used on the surrounding skin.

External Pressure

Wearing pressure garments when a scar first develops is helpful in preventing hypertrophic scarring. They are worn a minimum of 23 hours per day for one to two years. Pressure garments are made from an elastic fabric that typically fits around a limb, such as the arm or leg. The garments can be cumbersome, but reduce the amount of blood in the scar and prevent collagen from developing into raised scars.

Surgery

Revision surgery is a common option when a scar is large and raised. If the scar is on a visible location that can’t be covered up with clothing, such as the face or neck, a plastic surgeon may be able to minimize the scar and decrease its prominence. Keloid scars have a high recurrence rate with surgery, often growing back over time.

Prevention

Most people don’t injure themselves on purpose. If you want to avoid scars, however, it’s wise to protect yourself when you know you may be at risk for injury. For example, wear long sleeves and long pants when you will be outdoors on rocky surfaces or coming in contact with sharp objects. Most sports have special padding and equipment for athletes. Use it. If you already have keloid scars on your body, it’s important to understand that you have a much higher risk of developing keloids anytime your skin is cut or punctured. When possible, you may wish to avoid invasive procedures. These include facelifts, body piercings, tattoos and elective surgery.

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Are Certain Skin Types More Prone to Scarring?

Everyone develops scars when their skin is injured. How prominently scars present themselves depends on your body’s reaction to the healing process. As a result, your skin type has a profound effect on the type and prominence of your scars. Your ethnicity plays a role in how scars appear in relation to your skin’s natural pigmentation. As a result, scars are more prominent in people with darker skin types.

What Are the Different Skin Types?

There are six different phototypes of skin. The lightest pigmentation is classified as Type I, with the darkest as Type VI. Type I has the smallest amount of melanin present, while Type VI has the highest amount of melanin. Types IV, V and VI are considered darker skin types.

Why Does Darker Skin Show Scars More Prominently?

Darker skin has more naturally occurring melanin in the outer surface, or epidermis. When new skin develops in the form of scars, the amount of melanin involved in the process is different than the rest of the surface skin. Sometimes it’s visibly lighter than the surrounding skin, or hypopigmented. It can also be much redder or darker than the surrounding surface, or hyperpigmented.

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars are hard, raised scars with a reddish or purplish coloring that develop outside the margins of the original wound that can develop in all skin types. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, people with darker skin pigmentation are more likely to have severe skin scarring than those with fair skin. They are also more likely to develop keloids and form excessive scars.

To learn more about how Scarfade can be used to diminish scars, especially keloid scars, visit our page of Frequently Asked Questions.

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Scarfade Reaches 5,000 Facebook Fans

scar gelEveryone has scars. Some are more pronounced than others. While it is often said that scars are a reflection of the challenges we have faced and overcome, most people prefer to keep them covered or make them fade away. At Scarfade, making them less pronounced until they fade away is part of what we do. As we have just reached 5,000 fans on Facebook, we thought this would be a good time to reflect on what it is that has made our product and our company so successful in helping people. Below is an interview with Erik Hanson, vice president of operations at Scarfade, in honor of our milestone.

 

Q:  What has been the key to success at Scarfade?

A:  It’s simple. While it sounds cliché, we make it a point to treat our customers the way we would want to be treated if we were in their shoes. That means no big sales pitch, just good information and solid advice. On top of that, we make sure our customers know that if at any point they are unhappy with our product for any reason or feel we have misled them in any way, we will refund their money – no questions asked. We enacted this policy several years ago, and we rarely have anybody ask for a refund.

Q:  What makes your scar reducing product different than others on the market?

A:  We don’t claim to know everything about every other product on the market. Instead of talking about what is wrong with other products, our focus has always been to highlight what is good about ours. Specifically, our Scarfade formula was among the first scar treatment gels on the market. It is made from the only ingredient consistently shown by reputable published clinical studies to effectively improve the appearance of scars. We could make our formula more fancy and add a bunch of filler ingredients to make it smoother or less tacky or even less expensive, but the end result would be a product that is less effective. There are a lot of scar treatment products on the market today that make big claims.

Q: Does Scarfade work for everyone?

A: After 15-plus years in this industry, we have learned that everybody responds differently to treatment and that results will vary depending on factors such as skin type, the age of the scar and the location of the scar, to name a few. The one constant is that products with silicone as their primary ingredient are more effective than those without. We offer two main types of products which are both scientifically proven to work, silicone sheeting and silicone scar gel. The best results are achieved when the thin layer of silicone is in direct contact with the scar. Which works best is usually a matter of scar location and personal preference. The gel seems to be preferred by more of our customers due to its ease of use.

We appreciate our Facebook fans, and celebrate our milestone of 5,000 fans. Follow us on Facebook to keep up with the latest blogs, news, tips and information on scar treatment and skin care from Scarfade.

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Make It A Point to Prevent Nose Piercing Scars

nose piercingNose piercings are a way to express yourself. Like most body jewelry, you can wear a ring, stud or jewels to achieve a more artistic look. For the most part, nose piercings are safe. On occasion, however, infection, mishaps with piercing instruments, excessive friction or the body’s adverse reaction to what it perceives as an injury can cause the skin to form a heavy scar. In some cases, nose piercings are slow to heal and can develop a heavy scar. Keloid scars in the form of bubbles at the piercing site are also somewhat common, especially for people who are prone to developing keloid scars. Heavy scars can detract from the artistic and exotic look you hoped to achieve by getting your nose pierced.

Minimizing Nose Piercing Scars

Anytime the skin is pierced, the body perceives it as an injury. Crusting, redness and swelling of the nose should be expected, but do not guarantee a noticeable scar. The skin can sometimes form a piercing pimple, which can increase your chances of having a scar. According to the Association of Professional Piercers, it is advisable to leave your piercing in place during the healing process to minimize scarring, even when the site is infected. Taking the stud out will rarely improve the situation, and can make it difficult and painful to reinsert the piercing jewelry. The cartilage in the nose is more likely to become infected than the earlobe, for example, because the blood source has fewer nutrients than the flesh of the ear.

Caring for Injured Skin

It’s important to follow your piercing professional’s recommended care routine throughout the healing process. Poor care can result in an infection. Infections can lead to thicker and more prominent scars, particularly keloid scars. Friction can also lead to a higher level of natural collagen production, resulting in thicker scars.

  • Only use high-quality jewelry in your nose, such as solid gold or silver, surgical steel, niobium or titanium.
  • Always thoroughly wash your hands before touching your piercing site.
  • In the days following the piercing, cleanse it at least twice a day with a cotton swab dipped in saline solution.
  • If a piercing pimple or bump develops, avoid the urge to pop it.
  • Refrain from putting makeup or lotions on the site until the skin has healed.
  • If an infection develops, seek medical treatment. You may need an antibiotic.

Keloid Scars

A nose piercing keloid scar can develop for a number of reasons. These raised, red scars may grow to be much larger than the small hole that is created by a body piercing needle. When they form on the outside of the nose, they are prominent and detract from the beauty of your piercing. They can continue to grow, making it difficult and uncomfortable to wear jewelry.

Scar Treatment

Keloid scars can be treated in a variety of ways to minimize their appearance. Some options include cryotherapy, steroid injections and laser surgery, although the keloid could return with any of these methods. Keloid scar cream is another option. Be sure to choose a silicone-based scar gel formula that has been independently tested and proven to work. Scarfade gel is effective in removing keloid scars.

To learn more about how Scarfade works, visit our home page.

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Making the Cut: Skin Glue Produces Thinner Scars

One of the latest alternatives to sutures and staples after surgery is the use of skin glue. It’s also common for doctors to use it for closure of smooth cuts. Sometimes referred to as dermal adhesive, its purpose is to help an incision heal more neatly by joining the edges of the skin together. In some cases, noticeable scars can develop when skin glue is used, but research shows that they are typically thinner and more even than scars created from wounds closed with sutures, staples and adhesive strips.

What Is Skin Glue?

Skin glue is a polymer-based liquid or pasty substance called cyanoacrylate that’s applied to the edges of the skin, but not in the wound itself. It’s brushed on by a nurse or doctor in thin layers to create a protective seal that connects either side of the wound. Each layer takes a few minutes to dry as the formula sets. Skin glue naturally sloughs off in about a week to 10 days as the wound heals. By this time, the wound has closed and new skin has started to form.

Common Uses

In general, skin glue is most effective when the wound edges are flat, straight and two inches or shorter in length. Dermal adhesive is effective when used on the face, upper or lower body, arms and legs in areas away from joints. It’s important to use it only on body parts that don’t experience much tension on the skin. It can be used alone, but sometimes surgeons will close an incision beneath the outer layer of skin with sutures that eventually dissolve. Skin glue is then used on the outer layer of skin’s edges so there’s no need to remove sutures or staples at a later time. This special medical glue is typically not used for moist areas on the body or any wounds that are infected, have jagged edges or are located near joints.

Skin Glue Scars

Scarring from wounds closed by skin glue is part of the healing process. Wounds that break open after the healing process has started have a higher chance of creating thicker, more prominent scars. This is one reason why not all surgical scars can be closed with skin glue. It takes about six months before skin glue scars  begin to fade, unless a topical scar reduction cream is used. Silicone scar gel can be applied after the glue sloughs off and the wound heals further to improve the scar fading process.

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Tips to Faster Wound Healing

wound healingOpen wounds on the skin have the potential to become scars if they are deep enough and wide enough. Surgical incisions, for example, are commonly expected to leave scars. Light scratches and small friction blisters are not. When a wound heals, your skin forms a new layer to connect the edges. Here are several tips to faster wound healing, which leads to a decreased chance of infection and less prominent scars.

Good Wound Care

Seek medical care for any deep or large cuts. Follow your doctor’s recommendations on wound care. Avoid additional impacts to your injuries to promote faster wound healing. Change dressings and use proper cleaning techniques as directed. For small cuts and blisters, apply hydrogen peroxide shortly after the injury to encourage faster wound healing.

Keep Wounds Moist

Dehydration can slow and complicate the skin’s healing process. Keep the wound moist with ointment and cover it with a fresh bandage for about a week. After removing the bandage, keep it moist until new skin starts to form. Once new skin begins to form, the International Clinical Recommendation on Scar Management suggests using silicone sheeting or gel on the wound for more effective scar treatment.

Prevent Infection

Follow your doctor’s advice on wound care and take any medications prescribed to minimize the chances of infection. If the surrounding skin becomes red and warm to the touch, you could be developing an infection. This slows down the healing process. Infection can also increase the wound size and, in turn, make your scars bigger.

Tension

Minimize direct tension on the wounded skin and bordering areas. Movement that stretches the skin while it’s trying to form a new layer with natural collagen will create a wider scar. Avoiding tension is easier to do on non-joint areas. Keeping wounded joints completely immobile can have the opposite effect, however, causing a permanent loss of mobility, since scarred skin is less pliable than regular skin.

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