Understanding the Emotional Effects of Scars

Scars from a variety of sources can have long-term emotional effects in addition to theĀ  physical discomfort and marring of the skin. These can be caused by memories of how the injury occurred or from unhappiness at the appearance of the scar. Studies in both South Africa and England show that the presence of scar tissue can have strong psychological effects.

A survey recently conducted through social media outlets in South Africa showed that about 40 percent of women are self-conscious about their scars, which can cause feelings of embarrassment, anger, fear, anxiety and sadness. Psychological impacts are associated with scars from auto accidents, violent crime and serious burns. Positive feelings can also be associated with scars resulting from Caesarian sections and child birth. Another study, which was conducted in Great Britain, showed that women who had negative feelings regarding their Caesarian births associated negative feelings with their abdominal scars.

Social, emotional and psychological effects of scars are especially notable on individuals with visible scars. Patients in a variety of studies are known to suffer from low self-esteem and embarrassment when carrying visible scars on the face, neck, arms and hands. Covering these scars with long hair, high-collared clothing and gloves, for example, helps people to hide the disfigurement. They may also be prompted to stop participating in activities where their scars will show and people may ask discomforting questions.

One way to reduce the negative feelings associated with scars is to reduce the visible scarring on the body. This can help the patient to heal both emotionally and physically. Scar reduction surgery can create new scar lines that blend into skin creases more effectively or have a straighter line, which is less noticeable. While there will still be a scar, it will be less noticeable and may heal with a thinner scar line. Another option is to use scar removal products within two years of contracting the scar. Scar removal creams, such as Scarfade, are medically proven to reduce scarring on the skin.

As the skin heals and the scar becomes less noticeable with scar treatment, its physical and emotional reminders will lessen. While the memories of the event that caused the marring or disfigurement may never go away completely, the physical effects will lessen. This allows the patient to feel less self-conscious and overcome feelings of embarrassment, anxiety and sadness.