It is very common for individuals to have scars, of one kind or another. In some cases, a visible scar may lead one to feel self-conscious. However, with advances in plastic surgery techniques and a better understanding of abnormal scar formation, the opportunity to dramatically reduce scar prominence is becoming more widely available. Although not all scars are good candidates for surgical scar revision, most scars may be minimized with topical management.
Other treatment options include topical treatments like silicone pressure dressings, injectable treatments such as steroids or fillers, surface treatments like dermabrasion or chemical peels, and ultimately scar revision to remove an existing scar and create a cleaner closure.
The ultimate quality of a scar depends upon several factors such as the anatomical location, whether the scar resulted from a traumatic injury or elective surgery, method of closure, surgeon experience, patient skin type and the post-treatment scar management techniques.
There are three basic types of scars: hypertrophic scars that are generally raised above the surrounding skin, atrophic scars that are generally sunken into the flesh, and stretch marks. Each of these types of scars may require a different treatment and in some cases surgical scar revision.
Assuming the scar has been repaired in an ideal manner, the first six weeks following the repair is the most important time to protect and care for the scar. The scar will then “mature” over the next 12-18 months. Maturation is a process by which the scar becomes less red, less raised and therefore less conspicuous. Each surgeon typically recommends a topical agent to massage the scar along with sun avoidance to accelerate the maturation process.
Scar revision is most often recommended when the original repair was not optimum, or perhaps a complication may have occurred, such as a wound infection. In these circumstances, the scar has little hope of improving despite the normal maturation process. Additionally, facial scars or scars in other exposed sites are most commonly considered for revision.
With scar revision, plastic surgeons are able to reduce the overall visibility of marks. The most important factor in deciding to perform a scar revision is confirming that the patient’s expectations are congruent with the plastic surgeon’s confidence in the improvement of the scar. This is a very individualized procedure and is generally performed in the office utilizing a local anesthetic.
So if you have an unsightly scar, consider speaking to your plastic surgeon about options to improve the appearance. It may be easier than you think!!