Photo by Elnur at Shutterstock
Almost everyone has scars. Scars consist of fibrous tissues that grow after a skin injury. Every injury doesn’t result in a scar. Wounds usually have to reach deeper than the skin’s outer layer to produce scar tissue. Sometimes scars are barely noticeable, but they can be uncomfortable or emotionally distressing in some cases. Fortunately, dermatology clinics in the Southlake area offer many treatment options for scars.
Types of Scars
The amount of melanin in a person’s skin and the type of scar often determines whether scars are white, red, or dark brown. Deeply red scars are described as hyper-vascular, while hyper-pigmented scars are very dark. Sometimes skin surrounding scars becomes darker due to inflammation.
Scars are a natural part of healing, but they can have negative effects. Highly noticeable or large scars can cause anxiety and lower self-esteem. Physical side effects of scars include tenderness, pain, and itching. Large or thick scars can interfere with flexibility and cause discomfort during certain movements. Wound healing can happen quickly, but large or deep wounds may need up to a year to fully heal. This means that the full extent of potential scarring isn’t always known immediately.
Hypertrophic and keloid scars are the two most common types. Frequent causes of hypertrophic and keloid scars include tattoos, acne, surgical wounds, piercings, and small skin injuries such as cuts or punctures.
A hypertrophic scar appears as thick, raised tissue that forms when too much collagen is produced at the wound site. Most hypertrophic scar tissue remains within the original wound borders. Although hypertrophic scars appear red or dark brown initially, the color often fades over time.
Keloid scars can be itchy or painful. They usually grow large enough to spread outside of the original wounded area. The most common sites of keloid scars include the chest, upper back, arms, shoulders, and earlobes. They’re normally round or have irregular shapes, and people with dark skin are more likely to develop keloids. Melanin gives keloid scars a reddish color.
Contracture scars occur after damage to a large area of skin, such as a burn or abrasion. These scars can be very deep, and they pull and tighten surrounding skin. Sometimes contracture scars can limit movement.
Surgical Scars and Stretch Marks
Typical surgical scars can be thin, white lines or thick and wide raised lines. Pitting or small depressions occur when supportive tissue underneath the skin is lost or removed. Stretch marks are scars formed by rapid stretching of the skin. They’re often associated with pregnancy and weight gain. Although stretch marks aren’t surgical scars, but they share many characteristics. Dermatology treatments for surgical scars improve visual appearance by reducing redness and thickness.
Atrophic scarring is characterized by sunken areas and small divots in skin. It is commonly caused by acne or chickenpox. Acne often results in three types of atrophic scars. Rolling scars are wide raised areas. A boxcar scar has a hard, thick center and pulls on the skin around it. Icepick scars tend to be very narrow, but the scar tissue can be very deep.
Effective scar treatment depends on scar type, shape, size and location. Sometimes dermatology clinics combine multiple types of treatment to obtain the best results. Dermatology professionals can also help you minimize scarring during wound healing. It’s impossible to prevent scars, but keeping wounds clean and moisturized can limit production of scar tissue. Keep wounds covered to prevent excessive exposure to sunlight.
Dermatology professionals often recommend topical creams, collagen induction therapies, injectable fillers, and laser treatments to reduce the appearance of atrophic scars. The first step in reducing acne scars is treating acne itself. Attempts to reduce scarring while acne is still active can trigger a severe outbreak, and treatment isn’t very effective if new scars form immediately afterwards.
Retinoids and Injectable Fillers
Retinoids are a topical treatment meant to encourage cell turnover, which means the dead or damaged cells are replaced by new, healthy cells. This process can improve skin texture and encourage cells to fill divots. Injectable fillers, such as Bellafill or hyaluronic acid also fill in divots and depressions. Collagen induction is also known as micro needling. A series of very small needles make tiny wounds in the skin to promote collagen replacement. Micro needling may also enhance skin strength and elasticity.
Fractionated Laser Resurfacing
Fractionated laser resurfacing is another potential treatment for scars. Laser removal is noninvasive and tends to be very effective for reducing surgical scars. Dermatology clinicians use the intense light produced by lasers to reduce a scar’s color, size and shape. Laser resurfacing removes a layer of skin cells. The procedure reduces scarring by eradicating layers of scar tissue in small increments so new skin cells can grow instead. Sometimes radio frequency devices are used in a similar manner.
Surgical procedures can reduce the size of a scar or graft skin from another area of the body onto the scar to make it less visible. Surgery is the most invasive type of scar treatment, so surgeons carefully evaluate scars and assess risk of possible complications before considering a procedure.
Chemical Peels and Dermabrasion
Chemical peels are done in dermatology clinics in the area. A clinician applies a chemical solution to an area of skin where scarring exists. The top layer of skin is lifted away when the chemical peel is removed. The procedure should leave skin smoother as new skin cells reach the surface. Multiple chemical peels are usually necessary, especially for thick scars.
A small machine resembling a sander removes the top layer of skin through a process called dermabrasion. The procedure smoothes over thick, raised scar tissue. Thick scars may need repeated treatments.
Contact Compassion Dermatology in the Southlake area if you’re concerned about scarring. Experienced dermatology professionals can answer your skincare questions and help you explore potential scar treatment options.