If you have been following our blog entries you know that scars are a natural result of the body’s efforts to heal trauma to the skin. Scars can take many forms depending on several factors such as their cause, the area of the body in which they are located, skin type, etc. In this article we will examine three of the more common types of scars and some of the scar treatment options available for them.
Keloid Scars – These are thick, irregular areas of fibrous scar tissue that extend beyond the edges or borders of a wound. They are often red and can be quite painful or itchy. Keloids are caused by an overproduction of collagen that the body produces following trauma to the skin. They can appear anywhere on the body but are particularly common on the earlobes. They tend to occur more often in dark skinned individuals, and may develop as long as a year after injury to the skin. Recurrence after treatment to these scars is fairly common. Following are some of the treatments available:
– Surgery – There are several types of surgical procedures available for treating Keloid scars. One involves removing the scar via an incision and placing stitches to help close the wound. In some cases skin grafts are utilized. This involves taking healthy skin from another area of the body and attaching it to area in need of skin. Laser surgery may also be employed to help smooth a scar, remove its discoloration or flatten it.
– Cryotherapy – Involves use of liquid nitrogen to freeze the scar off. Immediately after being applied to the scar, cell death begins.
– Steroid Injections – Involves injection of steroids directly into the scar. The treatment is usually repeated once a month or so until maximum results are achieved. Steroids may help decrease the size of the scar but in some cases may also make it appear more red due to stimulation of blood vessels.
Hypertrophic Scars – These scars are similar to Keloid scars, with the difference being that they don’t grow beyond the boundaries of the original wound. These scars may be discolored (red or dark), and are usually very thick and raised above the surrounding skin. Hypertrophic scars usually begin developing shortly after trauma to the skin. The common treatment options for Hypertrophic scars are as follows:
– Surgery – See the above section on treating Keloid scars, as the surgery options are essentially the same for Hypertrophic scars.
– Steroid Injections – See the above section on treating Keloid scars as Steroid Injections are discussed there.
Acne Scars – Acne scars are often depressed or pitted because the damage to the skin is within the dermis. For this reason, acne scarring is very difficult to improve. Some of the possible treatments are:
– Punch Excision – A surgical procedure most often used on deeper acne scars that involves the use of a round, sharp, cookie cutter like tool. The tool comes in various sizes so the physician can match the tool to the size of the scar he or she is treating. Following anesthesia the scar is removed and the edges of the skin are pulled together and sutured. Over time the resulting new scar should fade and become less noticeable. If the new scar is still too noticeable, it can be treated via another method.
– Dermal Fillers – Fillers such as fat, bovine collagen, human collagen, hyaluronic acid derivatives, etc. can be injected into the scar to raise the surface of the skin, leaving a smoother look. The problem with fillers is that the treated areas will likely eventually need repeat injections since the fillers break down over time.
There are numerous other treatments that we didn’t cover in this article. There really is no clear best bet scar treatment for all scars. Rather, the best solution differs depending on the circumstances. In some cases a combination of different treatments may be used. For example, a punch excision and skin graft are often used in combination in the treatment of acne scars.