Hypertrophic Scars: What They Are and How to Treat Them

Not all scars are created equal. Some are more serious and lasting than others, while some are more superficial. Hypertrophic scar are wide, thick, raised scars that develop where the skin has been injured. Scars are fairly common when a wound of any kind starts to heal, but hypertrophic scars in particular result from abnormal responses to trauma or injury.

Sometimes, your body cells (myofibroblasts) produce too much collagen when healing a wound, depending on the person’s typical way of healing or their skin type. This collagen overproduction happens when a wound has become infected or inflamed, has been under a lot of tension or motion (i.e., joint injuries), or has been left to heal sans stitches.

These types of scars are a common complication of burn injuries, but may also form after cuts, bouts with acne or piercings. They are similar to keloid scars but are milder and do not grow past the boundaries of the original injury.

Hypertrophic scars are not dangerous or life-threatening; however, they can be quite itchy and painful, at least at first. Overall, they’re more of a cosmetic issue.

How They Are Treated

There are measures you can take to flatten, shrink, or otherwise reduce the appearance of your scar. Just remember, it may take a whole year for a scar to become mature. During this time, your body is in the process of remodeling and improving the scar tissue of its own volition. That’s why most physicians won’t treat an early hypertrophic scar. Rather, they will suggest you wait up to a year to start any aggressive treatment.

Medical Treatments

  • Corticosteroid treatments: This involves injecting a steroid into the hypertrophic scar every six weeks, in an effort to flatten and soften it. These steroids can weaken normal tissue around the scar, so it can’t be done on a long-term basis.
  • Laser therapy: More effective in newly formed scars than older ones, lasers burn and flatten elevated scars, as well as target pink and red pigments in the scars so they can lighten.
  • Bleomycin: A strain of soil bacteria, this is injected directly into the scar to improve appearance and relieve itching.
  • Cryotherapy: The scar tissue is frozen with liquid nitrogen to flatten it out.
  • Surgery: Such scars can be excised and closed with stitches.
  • Silicone sheets: You can apply these as soon as the skin starts to heals after an injury, worn over the scar for between 12 and 24 hours per day for up to three months.
  • Pressure and massage: The cheapest and most effective way to heal a scar is by applying pressure to the area, which will weaken the scar tissue over time.
  • Scarfade: This is a topical treatment proven to reduce scarring on the skin, thanks to its way of encouraging the skin to slow down production of collagen. It can be used on anything from cuts to burns to surgical incisions. In fact, its use has been backed by many scientific studies.