11 Strategies for Choosing the Best Scar Removal Method for Your Skin

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Scars – whether they are battle spoils from a misadventure when we were children, a reminder of an embarrassing trip and fall, remnants of a pockmarked youth, or proud marks of a mother who had brought a child into the world, scars are something most people have.

scars on your bodyIf the scars on your body are small or you can hide them easily by your clothing, you may not even notice that they are there on most days. But what if your scar is large, like one left over from a caesarean section, or present on parts of your body where you can’t conceal them, like acne or chickenpox scars? Many people live with those types of scars on a daily basis, not knowing that there are various types of medical treatments available for fast and effective scar removal.

The market for scar removal treatments has grown rapidly in recent years, most likely because of the myriad advantages of having unsightly scars removed. Many people regain their self-confidence through the removal of high visibility blemishes like acne and C-section scars, while others just aim to regain the mobility that a large scar on a mobile joint can take away.

This article will touch on 11 of the most popular and well-known scar removal treatments available on the market today, with brief descriptions of how each one works and how to choose the best treatment plan for yourself.

But before we dive into looking at the numerous treatment options, it is important to understand how scars form, the different types of scars that appear on your body, and why it takes so long for them to heal. Here are some FAQs on scar removal.

What Are Scars, And How Do They Form?

woundsFirstly, a scar is different from other skin blemishes like birthmarks and moles. Scars form when parts of your body tissue, especially the outermost layer known as the epithelium, is damaged by wounds, sores or burns, and has not been able to heal completely, leaving a tough, fibrous tissue behind what we commonly call a scar.

When our skin experiences trauma and breaks, our body produces special cells to repair that damage. The cells usually take anywhere from three days to two weeks to form substances, such as new skin cells and collagen, an essential protein that maintains skin elasticity. After that, your skin will slowly strengthen as the collagen fibers grow closer together, a process which may take several months, or even years for your skin to achieve its original strength.

As such, any obstacle in this progress can raise the possibility of scars forming. Given how long the healing process can get, it is no wonder why scars are so common.

Why Do Scars Last So Long?

So, why do some injuries leave long-lasting scars? Scars form due to a variety of reasons, and the most common ones are listed below:

  • Your Skin Type: The lightness of your skin does affect how easily you scar. People with light skin are especially prone to scarring, because the paleness of their skin contrasts with the darker tissue that the repair cells usually produce.
  • area of injuryLocation of Your Injury: Scars are more likely to form when the area of injury happens to experience a lot of movement, such as at muscle joints such as the knees, elbows and shoulders. The constant movement during the healing process hinders the progress of your repair cells, making them unable to heal the skin properly and resulting in a scar.
  • Your Age: Skin heals at a different rate depending on age. Many adults have probably wondered why their injuries seem to take much longer to heal than when they were children, and it is because skin works slower to heal itself the older we get; thus, older people are more likely to develop lasting scars.
  • Complications During the Healing Process: Sometimes, the healing process is hindered by complications, such as infections and inflammation, or even something as simple as picking a scab before the tissue beneath it has healed completely. This usually occurs when the you don’t take proper care of your wound. This results in a much higher chance that scars will develop after you heal.

What Are The Different Types Of Scars That Form?

Scars come in a variety of different sizes, shapes and colors, and this is dependent on the various factors listed just above. Medical science classifies scars into two categories: atrophic scars, and hypertrophic scars.

  • Atrophic ScarsAtrophic Scars: these scars form when part of your body tissue has wasted away during the injury and healing process, forming a depression in your skin. This happens when tissues that are essential for the healing process, such as the cells that produce collagen and fat are damaged, and thus, they are unable to develop the tissue you lost during the injury.Atrophic scars are sunken in appearance, causing pockmarks on your skin that are most characteristic of acne and chickenpox scars. Some surgical wounds may also form atrophic scars.
  • Hypertrophic Scars: In contrast, these types of scars appear as raised ridges and patches on your skin. They happen when your repair cells produce too much collagen during the healing process, which causes bumps to rise up on your skin and above the surrounding tissue.Keloids are a special subset of hypertrophic scars where the raised areas of your skin spread out from the wound area to cover the skin around it.

Now, with an understanding of the different types of scars and how they form, it is easier to find suitable treatment to heal your own scars. This article has classified the various treatments into two broad categories: non-prescription products and dermatological treatments.

Non-Prescription Products

You can find many products that combat scars on the aisles of most drugstores, and even some supermarkets. Most tout an easy, fuss-free way of lightening or removing scars. Here are some of the most popular ones that you will see on store shelves:

1. Silicone Gels and Sheets

Silicone GelsTopical silicone gel is a relatively new scar treatment on the market that has shown promising results. Studies on the effect of silicone on scars have proven satisfactory, with a significant reduction in texture, color and height of scars of test subjects.

Silicone gel contains long chains of the polymer polysiloxane, and silicone dioxide, and is made into thin sheets which you can spread over your scars. They work effectively in the reduction of hypertrophic and keloid scars due to a number of reasons, including:

  • The sheets hydrate the outermost layer of your skin, which regulates the collagen-producing cells present in your skin tissue, stopping them from making excess collagen, which raises scars.
  • The silicone sheets also act as a block to bacteria, which can cause infections resulting in excessive collagen production.
  • They also increase the level of certain enzymes present to break down excess collagen, which reducing the size and height of your scars.

One big advantage of silicone gels and sheets, aside from effectiveness, is their easy use. It is suitable for sensitive skin and you can apply them on areas such as your face and joints, and even on children.

Many brands of silicone-based products for scars are available over the counter, as a gel sold in tubes or as a pre-made sheet for application over larger scars. This site lists some of the more popular brands, a brief description of each with ingredient lists, as well as links to purchase them.

2. Onion Extract

OnionsOnion extract is one of the more staple treatments for scar removal, with many home remedy recipes available online. Research conducted on subjects have shown that gels containing onion extract can reduce the overall redness and hardness of your scars, making them less visible.

Onions, or Allium cepa, contain several unique substances known as bioflavonoids. Kaempferol and cepalin are the two specific substances that researchers believe are the active ingredients in reducing the appearance of scars.

Bioflavonoids are known to enhance the action of Vitamin C within the body, promote blood circulation, and have been used to effectively treat inflammations, all of which may be why they act so well in scar reduction and removal.

In addition, onion extract has also been linked to regulating collagen production, which makes gels containing it a suitable treatment for both hypertrophic and atrophic scars. it has been shown to encourage collagen fibers to grow in a more controlled manner; thus preventing the excess production that leads to raised scars, as well as producing enough to fill up the holes that are characteristic of acne scarring.

One of the best onion extract gels available in today’s market is Advanced Scar Gel by Mederma. Due to its higher concentration of onion extract, this gel requires only one application per day over eight weeks for visible results. In contrast, other similar products tested required at least three daily applications over a period of six months to achieve the same effect.

3. Medicinal Honey

HoneyHoney has been a staple of medicine for thousands of years. Doctors and other medical personnel have used it to soothe various ailments, like cuts and burns, and even for scar removal.

Honey is known for its ability to prevent wound infections. It forms a seal over the injury that prevents bacteria and contaminants from entering your body. It is also slightly acidic and contains little water, conditions which reduce the growth of harmful bacteria.

In addition, medicinal honey has also been proven to speed up the repair of your body tissues, especially collagen and skin cells, making it the ideal treatment for scars. Aside from providing nutrition to your healing tissues, honey also decreases your risks of swelling and inflammation.

There are two main types of medicinal honey available on the market today. Manuka honey is produced from the nectar of the manuka bush, found in Australia and New Zealand. It is known for its high levels of antibacterial components, including hydrogen peroxide and methyglyoxal. Medihoney is a specially-developed honey that works well as a wound care dressing. It has been proven to speed up the process of wound healing, hence reducing the chance of scarring.

Dermatological Treatments

In contrast to non-prescription products, which are available at drugstores that you can purchase to use at home, dermatological treatments require special procedures and machines only certified dermatologists and doctors have access to. This makes these treatments costlier, but they may also yield better results in a shorter time.

4. Chemical Peels

Chemical peels are one of the most popular treatments, not only for scar removal, but also for obtaining smoother, younger-looking skin. Doctors use them on sensitive areas like your face, hands and neck. They involve applying a chemical solution to your face, which causes it to peel off, or exfoliate to reveal new skin beneath.

Peels can range from superficial peels, which only penetrate the outermost skin layer, to medium and deep peels which penetrate deeper into skin tissue for a more thorough procedure. The proper removal of scars requires the deep peel, which the doctor can usually only perform once on your face’s sensitive skin to remove shallow blemishes like acne scars.

The procedure is said to cause mild stinging, but does not cause too much pain, though there may be redness and swelling that you can reduce with special creams.

Those with fair skin will experience the best results of chemical peels, while those of a darker complexion may not garner the same results. Do note that complications for chemical peels do include discoloration and scarring,

5. Dermabrasion

DermabrasionDermabrasion is more powerful than chemical peels as it is able to target large and deeper scars. The procedure involves the use of a diamond wheel to lightly remove and level your uppermost layer of skin. The area is then left to heal, and new skin will grow in its place, getting rid of unsightly scars.

The process itself will hurt, but the use of anesthetics numbs most of the pain. There is also little to no pain during your recovery period, though there may be a little swelling. The catch of this procedure is that it is not suitable for the removal of hypertrophic scars or keloids. It may also cause darkening of your skin due if you expose it to sunlight after your procedure.

6. Dermal Fillers

Dermal fillers are just like what their name suggests. They are chemicals, such as acids, that a doctor will inject into your skin to fill up atrophic scars like acne and chickenpox scars to yield a smooth surface. Common fillers they use are hyaluronic based fillers, such as Belotero and Restylane.

The advantage of this procedure is that you will experience immediate results. In fact, you will continue to see improvements over the next few months as the dermal filler stretches your skin cells to stimulate collagen formation. The process is also said to be relatively painless, and numbing creams prevent any discomfort.

The downside is that the treatment is only temporary, and patients are required to go for repeat treatments to maintain the results. As such, the treatment costs can add up to a considerable sum of money over time.

7. Corticosteroid Injections

InjectionsDermatologists treat stubborn keloid and hypertrophic scars with the use of corticosteroid injections to soften the texture and improve their appearance. The procedure involves numerous small injections onto the scar tissue to reduce inflammation and flatten the height of the scar. Usually, patients go for a few repeat treatments over months to see results.

Corticosteroids are artificial hormones that act as an anti-inflammatory medication, but they also suppress your immune system. The injections are not known to cause many side effects, but some people may experience psychological effects, such as appetite changes and mood swings due to the change in hormonal levels within their bodies.

8. Laser Therapy

Laser therapy, or resurfacing, makes use of a laser to remove skin layers and treat conditions, including scars. The two most common types of lasers include the carbon dioxide laser for treating wrinkles and scars, and the erbium laser, for removing deep lines and wrinkles.

The lasers work by targeting blood vessels in the scar tissue, reducing redness and making atrophic scars shallower. The removal of skin layers also stimulates collagen production in deeper layers; hence making it an ideal treatment for acne scars.

You will receive medication before your procedure to reduce pain. Some complications include swelling and itching, as well as discoloration issues for those with an active acne problem or dark skin.

9. Surgical Scar Revision

surgerySurgical scar revision is usually reserved for cases where the wound has healed long ago, leaving a permanent scar. As the procedure is considered invasive by most, it is often employed as a last resort to remove stubborn scars, like those left by deep lacerations, such as surgery, C-sections and large patches of keloids.

The procedure involves surgical removal of all scar tissue in the affected area, and uses a technique called Z-plasty, where the surgeon creates V-shaped skin flaps and sews them back together to result in a less noticeable scar that follows the natural folds of your skin.

For large scars, a skin graft may be necessary, where skin from another part of your body is grafted over the scar. This may require repeat procedures to produce a result that is aesthetically pleasing.

10. Skin Needling

Skin needling, also known as micro-needling or collagen induction therapy, is a relatively new non-invasive technique that makes use of controlled injury to the skin to trigger the production of collagen and elastin in the skin.

This procedure has gained popularity due to the fact that unlike other procedures, such as chemical peels and dermabrasion, skin needling causes the least damage to your skin. It is known to effectively reduce scarring and promote the renewal of skin tissue, improving the texture and firmness of your skin.

11. Radio Therapy

Radiotherapy is a procedure doctors commonly use together with surgery to reduce the appearance of hypertrophic scars after surgery. Low doses of high-energy radiation are administered externally to stimulate cells to repair themselves and grow well.

Because radiotherapy carries many side effects, such as sore skin, tiredness and hair loss, which are typical effects seen in cancer patients as they undergo radiotherapy treatment as well, it is usually reserved for cases of severe scarring. However, it has a success rate of about 70 percent in reducing scars and their appearance.

Some Final FAQs on Scars

You probably have many questions by now, so here are some of the FAQs people have on scars and scar formation.

Why Do Some Scars Appear Red, And Others Appear White?

Scars that are new will often appear red due to your body’s production of a large amount of small blood vessels known as capillaries during the healing process. The presence of all these vessels temporarily supply the wounded area with excess blood, and this is what causes the redness. This is also the period where a scar will ridge out of the skin surface and feel stiff. Eventually, the scar will slowly turn soft and fade to a pale white color.

Will Scars Go Away On Their Own?

scars developUnfortunately, once scars develop, they are there permanently, though their appearance may fade as it matures over a period of a year to 18 months. This is why scar removal treatments are so popular.

What Can I Do To Reduce The Appearance Of A Scar As It Matures?

Scars usually fade by themselves over time, but applying sunscreen to protect them during the healing months straight after results in the development of a less noticeable scar.

Is It True That Vitamin E Can Help Reduce The Appearance Of Scars?

An old wives’ tale purports that vitamin E, as well as aloe vera, are the go-to cures for removal and reduction of your scars; however, there has not been any scientific evidence to back up these ideas so far. So, while the use of vitamin E does not harm your scars, it probably will not do much to lighten them, either.

Things to Remember

Every treatment listed in this article comes with advantages and disadvantages, as well as varying treatment times, effectiveness and cost. Therefore, it is important to learn more about each treatment and then consult a dermatologist to find the one most suited for your needs before trying it.

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