You can blame it on an accident, a deep wound you got when you were 10, or an injury you incurred from playing sports. Whatever the cause was, one thing is for sure: it left a permanent mark on your skin.
Generally, scars do not pose a serious threat to your health; however, they could take a toll on your confidence and self-esteem. The good news is, there are scar treatment options you can try, such as scar removal surgery to remove these unsightly marks. The question now is this: is surgical scar revision effective?
Read on to find out.
1. If You Have Scars, You Have Lots of Company
Scars may be unsightly, but did you know they are a part of the normal healing process? In fact, a scar is a mark left on the surface of your skin after a wound, injury, or other skin trauma has healed.
How Do Scars Form?
When you injure your skin, you may break down certain body tissues, causing your body to create more collagen. This is a type of protein that builds up on the broken or damaged tissues, thereby healing and strengthening your wounds.
This collagen buildup will continue for three months or longer, depending on the severity of the injured site. During this period, your blood supply increases in the area, which causes scarring.
Over time, those scars will fade or reduce in appearance. Unfortunately, the truth is, when a scar appears, it is likely that you will have it forever. Don’t worry. There are still options to have your scar removed, which you will learn more about below.
2. What Type of Scar Do You Have?
Scars come in variety of forms depending on the extent of the wound. The type of treatment you use may depend on the type of scar you are dealing with, such as:
- Flat or Pale – This is the most common type of scar, which is an effect of your body’s natural healing process. After the wound healed, the scar will be red or dark and raised, and will get pale and flat over time, usually after two years.
- Acne Scars – If you had severe acne, then there is a possibility that it will leave its marks behind with scars to prove it. It could be angular or wavelike in appearance or deeply pitted on your skin.
- Keloid – This type of scar is a result of excess scar tissue produced at the injured site. It usually grows beyond the boundaries of the wound even after healing.
- Hypertrophic – It comes with red, raised scars and usually forms along the wound.
- Contracture – This is often a result of burn injury. Contracture scars happen when your skin shrinks and tightens, thereby restricting movement.
- Pitted – This is also known as atrophic or ice pick scars, which comes in sunken appearance.
Keep in mind that every scar requires a specific type of scar removal treatment. Keep reading and find out all about the different ways to remove scars.
There are many treatments available to help you reduce the appearance of scars. You can try silicone sheets, over-the-counter or prescription creams and gels, and even things as simple as makeup to hide them. Steroid injections are also an option for keloid and hypertrophic scars.
If you want a more permanent solution, then read below to know your options.
3. The Role of a Dermatologist in Eliminating the Appearance of Scars
Admit it. You have tried consulting the World Wide Web for symptoms, and like most people, you avoid going to the doctor as much as you can. There are instances when the role of a doctor is crucial. This includes getting the proper treatment for scars.
Here’s the thing: every scar is different. This follows that the treatment to eliminate them is different, too. Giving the wrong treatment to a specific scar is not only a waste of money, but it also reduces the possibility of erasing your scars completely.
Therefore, it is important for you to consult a dermatologist to determine the type of scar you have and the appropriate treatment for such a scar. This way, you are sure that you are getting the right treatment and at the same time, ensure the improvement of the scar’s appearance, because of using the proper strategy against it.
4. A Chemical Peel: A Solution You Can Try to Say Goodbye to Scars
You might associate a chemical peel with acne removal. Did you know that you can also use this treatment against scars?
A chemical peel is a procedure wherein a chemical is applied on your skin and remove the top layer. This exposes the skin below and helps reveal a smoother, healthier, and more vibrant skin.
There are four main types of chemical peel:
- Alpha hydroxy acid, which is the mildest among facial peel chemicals.
- Glycolic acid in case of sun damage.
- Trichloroacetic acid if you have darker skin.
- Phenol, which is the strongest solution in chemical peels.
Despite the safety of the procedure, make sure to pay attention to any side effects, such as slight changes in skin tone, which can either be temporary or permanent. Depending on the depth of the peel and the type of peel used, your recovery time can be four to 10 days.
Here’s the catch: a chemical peel is only recommended for superficial scars. In case of deeper scars such as surgical scars, consider the succeeding techniques.
5. Dermabrasion: A Solution Worth Trying in Treating Deeper Scars
In case chemical peels cannot work on your skin, dermabrasion is your next option. It can treat acne scars, surgical scars, pockmarks and other minor irregularities.
In this procedure, your doctor uses a high-speed instrument with an abrasive wheel or brush to remove the outer layers of your skin, including the damaged and scarred layers. This leads to the improvement of irregularities and scars on your skin’s surface, revealing healthier, smoother, and more youthful skin.
After the procedure, you might experience a burning sensation, which will go away in a few days. Other side effects include:
- Temporary darkening of the skin
- Uneven changes in your skin color, either temporary or permanent
6. Fill Soft, Indented Scars with Soft Tissue Fillers
In case you have soft and indented scars, soft tissue fillers, also known as dermal fillers, could be your best option.
How Do Dermal Fillers Work?
In this procedure, the doctor injects absorbable materials into indented scars to create a smoother or fuller appearance. Some of the materials used are as follows:
- Fat – This is also widely used to improve the appearance of your scars. The issue with this material is there is a higher possibility that your skin will absorb it easily.
- Collagen – This is taken from cow or human cells. It is also the shortest lasting injectable material, which only lasts for up to four month.
- Hyaluronic Acid – This is a type of sugar present in your body tissues; however, some hyaluronic acid is chemically modified to last longer, usually six to 12 months.
- Calcium Hydroxylapatite – This material is commonly found in human bones and teeth. This could last approximately 18 months.
- Poly-L-lactic Acid – Also known as PLLA, this material is widely used in absorbable stitches and bone screws. This material could last up to two years when used as filler.
- Polymethylmethacrylate Beads or PMMA – This is non-biodegradable and a man-made polymer. If you want permanent filler for scars, then PMMA is your option.
Here’s the issue with this technique: the results are temporary. Regardless of the materials in the dermal filler injections, you may need a series of injections to minimize the appearance of your scars. At the same time, some common side effects include:
Make sure that your doctor is trained to perform this procedure to ensure improvement in the appearance of your scars. Otherwise, you might be doing more harm than good to your skin – and you don’t want that to happen.
Apparently, dermal filler could cost you $263 to $2,000, depending on the material in it. If you want something more permanent, the next option could be just the treatment you are looking for.
7. Replace Scarred Skin: The Punch Graft Technique
In case of deep, ice pick scars, the punch grafting technique could be your best option. You might be wondering why.
Punch grafting for scars is a procedure wherein your surgeon uses a small instrument to “punch” holes in your skin to remove the scars. Next, the doctor will fill in the area with a plug of new and unscarred skin, usually taken from behind your ear lobe. Tape holds the plugs in place for one week to promote and facilitate healing. As a result, the new scar will be smoother and less noticeable.
Apparently, this doesn’t end here. You will still have to go through resurfacing techniques for up to six weeks to correct any differences in your skin color. Infection and excessive bleeding may be an issue, although you can reduce your risk by choosing the right surgeon, which you will learn more about below.
If you are wondering about the costs, average price of punch graft technique is $1,300, although this will vary on your doctor, plus other fees.
8. Say Hello to Scar Revision Surgery and Goodbye to Scars Completely
There are two ways available to improve the appearance of your scar: you can either eliminate it completely or minimize its appearance. Apparently, there are cases wherein complete elimination can be challenging. In this case, your option is scar revision.
Scar revision surgery is a procedure designed to minimize the appearance of your scar. It does this by making it more consistent and even with your surrounding skin tone and texture.
Here’s how surgical scar revision works:
Anesthesia – Your surgeon will inject anesthesia to keep you comfortable during the procedure.
- Treatment – Improving the appearance of your scar will depend on the size, location, type and severity. Your surgeon may use a topical treatment, such as gels or tapes to close the wound, or an injectable treatment to fill depressed and concave scars. Surface treatments like a chemical peel or laser may also be used to soften the surface irregularities and reduce uneven pigmentation.
- Incision – This is ideal for deeper scars. In this phase, your surgeon will create an incision to surgically remove the old scar.
- Closing the Incision – There are various ways to do this depending on the type of scar. Closing an incision could be layered closure, tissue substitute, complex flap closure or tissue expansion, which is similar to skin grafting.
The cost for scar revision surgery will vary based on the following factors:
- Procedure used during the treatment phase
- Hospital or surgical facility’s cost
- Surgeon’s fee
- Prescription medications
- Medical tests
- Post-surgery garments
- Geographic location of the scar
Make sure you discuss this with your doctor to help you prepare for the expenses.
9. Laser Scar Removal: The Solution to Your Long-Term Skin Enemy
Scars may be an unpleasant reminder of the past, despite being part of your body’s natural healing process. If you want to get rid of them for good, this solution should be on top of your list: laser treatment.
Here are the three main types of laser treatments available to help you eliminate scars:
Laser Resurfacing – This uses high-powered laser to remove the damaged and scarred layer of your skin. It also penetrates into the middle layer of your skin to keep it tight and smooth underneath. You can go for CO2 laser, which can penetrate deeply into your skin to remove deep and thick scars or Erbium: YAG laser for shallow scars.
- Fractionated Laser Resurfacing – This is a precise laser therapy that uses tiny beams of light to be able to penetrate deeply into your skin. It also breaks down old skin cells and stimulates the production of collagen, especially in the deeper layers. Compared to laser resurfacing, this option is less invasive and reduces your recovery time.
- Non-Ablative Laser Resurfacing – In this method, your dermatologist uses infrared skin laser to heat the inner layers of your skin without affecting the surface. This promotes the production of collagen, which could create new and fresh skin cells to replace the old, damaged ones. Each treatment takes 15 to 30 minutes, although the procedure can be painful.
In case you are wondering, stretch mark removal surgery is also available using the laser technique. This includes acne scar removal surgery, as well.
10. Freezing Your Scars and Getting Rid of Them Through Cryotherapy
There is so much you can do to remove scars permanently. You can heat them, light them, press them to apply pressure and suppress their growth, and even apply creams and gels, just to make them disappear.
Did you know that you can also freeze your scars to make them go away?
This procedure is called cryotherapy. A study published in the Archives of Dermatology also revealed that this is safe and effective against keloids and hypertrophic scars.
Cryotherapy is a type of scar removal treatment that freezes skin lesions using any of the following:
- Liquid nitrogen, which is also the most common method used by doctors
- Dimethyl ether and propane or DMEP
- Carbon dioxide snow, which is more common two decades ago
You may experience pain, redness, and immediate swelling. After the treatment, the treated area is also likely to blister, but it will get better in a few days. Scabs are also likely to form and will peel off within five days to three weeks, depending on the location of the treated area. Don’t worry. Your skin will heal, and you might even forget you had a scar on that particular area.
11. Understand the Risks That Come with Scar Removal Surgery
Generally, scar removal methods are safe and don’t pose any serious risks. If your surgeon did it right, you can just walk away and not worry about anything. Even so, there will always be a possibility of complications.
Some of these adverse effects include:
- Burning sensations
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Recurrence of unsightly scars
You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified surgeon and following the follow-up care prescribed by them.
12. Insurance: A Friend or Foe in Your Quest towards a Scar-Free Skin
Here’s another question you should ask:
Will Your Insurance Policy Cover The Expenses of Your Scar Removal Surgery?
The answer is no, unless the scar removal treatment is medically necessary. In this case, your doctor must present valid and necessary documents to support such claim. Otherwise, you will have to shoulder all the expenses straight from your pocket.
Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean you have to apply for a personal loan just to correct your scars. Some doctors offer a financing arrangement, so make sure you discuss this option with them first.
13. Tips in Choosing the Right Surgeons for the Procedure
Here’s something you should know about scar removal surgery: the success or failure is also dependent on your doctor’s skills and qualifications.
When choosing a surgeon you can trust, they should:
- Be a graduate of an accredited medical school.
- Have passed comprehensive and written exam.
- Hold a board certification from the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS).
- Have completed at least six years of surgical training after medical school and three more years of plastic surgery residency training.
- Undergo continuing medical education including patient safety every year.
- Perform the procedure in accredited and licensed surgical facilities.
Make sure that your chosen surgeon is qualified and meets all of the requirements to ensure your safety and the success of the procedure.
14. Answering the Multi-Million Dollar Question in the World of Scar Formation
Here is the biggest question:
Can Scar Removal Surgery Improve The Appearance of Your Scars?
The answer is, it depends. Scars are permanent and could stay with you forever, but this doesn’t mean you have to let them stay for good. The challenge now is choosing the right technique that will work best against the scars you have.
Without a doubt, the options mentioned above will help remove, or at least change the appearance of your scar and make them less visible. The keys here are the right procedure, consistency in going through scar-appropriate treatment, and a truckload of patience.
Keep in mind that the results do not happen overnight. Allow your skin to heal and recover from the treatment and in a few weeks, you will see an improvement. Don’t forget to follow the post-operative care prescribed by your doctor and you are on your way to a scar-free skin in no time.
Keep your expectations realistic and be patient.
15. Stop Scars from Forming: Simple Preventive Tips to Try Today
Here’s the good news: you don’t need to go through any of these methods just to get rid of scars. Sometimes, all you need is to employ scar prevention techniques is to make sure that scarring won’t happen.
Here are some things you can do:
- Get stitches on your wounds or cuts if needed.
- Keep the wound moist by applying petroleum jelly and covering it with a non-stick bandage.
- Massage the wound area regularly.
- Avoid applying hydrogen peroxide on the affected area, since it slows the healing process.
- Do not pick scabs, because they are your wound’s biologic dressing.
- Keep the scar away from the sun to minimize discoloration. Otherwise, wear sunscreen to keep it protected.
- Allow your wound to heal naturally.
The Bottom Line
All of the options enumerated under scar removal surgery could improve the appearance of your scar and make them less noticeable, if not make them disappear completely. The important thing is to choose the appropriate treatment for your scar condition.
Keep in mind that the scar treatment options available cater to specific types of scars, too. This is why it is important to schedule a trip to a dermatologist to properly identify the type of scar you have. At the same time, you can get a recommendation of the appropriate treatment for you.
Don’t worry. With consistency and a truckload of patience, you can finally say goodbye to scarring.