Even though scars are a natural part of the body’s healing process, that doesn’t mean you’re comfortable seeing them on your skin. In fact, some people are so sensitive about scarring, they’ll go to great lengths to conceal them, whether that means wearing long-sleeved shirts or pants, no matter the weather, or attempting to conceal them with cosmetics.
Scars serve as a visible reminder of past injuries or surgeries and so their presence can trigger an emotional or psychological response more than just a concern about aesthetics or appearances.
While they may fade over time, some scars can be more prominent and bothersome. In this blog post, we’ll explore what scarring is, how it can be prevented, and what you can do to minimize their appearance. Additionally, we’ll discuss when seeking professional treatment for scars may be necessary.
The situation with scarring
Scarring is the body’s way of repairing damaged tissue. When the skin is wounded, whether through a cut, burn, or surgery, the body produces collagen fibers to mend the injury. This collagen forms a tough, fibrous tissue that we recognize as a scar. The appearance of scars can vary based on factors such as genetics, age, and the type and location of the injury.
Is it possible to prevent scars?
While it’s impossible to prevent scars entirely, certain measures can be taken to minimize their visibility:
- Early and effective wound care: Proper care of wounds is crucial to minimize scarring. Keep the wound clean and moist, using a first aid cream, if appropriate, and ensuring that any bandages are removed and replaced on a regular basis. It’s also important to avoid picking at scabs so that the natural healing process can occur, and to mitigate the chance of introducing infection-causing bacteria.
- Sun protection: As you know, everyone should be wearing sunscreen everyday day, no matter the season. Did you know that sun exposure can make the appearance of scars even worse? Exposure to sunlight can darken scars and make them more noticeable. A good rule of thumb is to always use sunscreen with a high SPF on healed wounds to protect them from UV rays and keep scarring at a minimum.
- Topical treatments: Applying silicone-based gels, vitamin E, or over-the-counter scar creams may help reduce scar formation; however, these are not clinically proven products and none will completely erase scars from your skin.
What can be done to minimize scars?
If you’re already dealing with scars, there are steps you can take to manage and help minimize their appearance; again, these methods may help, but will not completely erase scar tissue.
- Massage: Regularly massaging the scar tissue can help break down collagen fibers and improve blood circulation, promoting a smoother appearance.
- Scar-reduction products: Over-the-counter products, such as silicone sheets or gels, can be applied to the scar to minimize its appearance over time.
When scar tissue requires professional treatment
While many scars can be managed at home, some situations may require professional intervention, especially if the scars are causing physical discomfort, which can happen.
- Keloid or hypertrophic scars: These types of scars extend beyond the original wound site and may require medical attention, including corticosteroid injections or laser therapy. These scars are slow to develop, with 20% appearing more than a year following injury.
- Contracture scars: Common after burns, contracture scars can restrict movement and may need surgical intervention to release tension.
- Persistent discomfort or itching: If a scar causes persistent pain, itching, or other discomfort, it might require an evaluation and treatment by a professional.
Understanding how scars form and taking proactive steps in their prevention and management can significantly impact their appearance. While many scars fade with time, seeking professional treatment when necessary ensures comprehensive care and optimal healing.
At Sterling Plastic Surgery, we offer a variety of aesthetic services and products to help you feel confident and beautiful. Our aestheticians are highly trained and able to address your questions and concerns so that you feel comfortable and empowered to embrace your skin.
Contact us today to book your appointment!