While most scars tell a story, they can also be a serious cause of insecurity — especially when they are located in a highly visible place. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize the appearance of a scar, and some can even be removed.
If you have considered getting rid of scar, whether it’s old or somewhat new, it’s important to understand exactly what a scar is and what type of scar you’re wanting to remove.
What is a scar?
Any time you injure your skin, whether due to an accident or as a result of surgery, your body repairs the wound. In order to do this, a tough fiber called collagen is created to help reconnect the tissue that’s been broken apart.
As the tissue reconnects, a scab forms to cover the wound, protecting it from germs as the body heals. Once the injured tissue has been repaired, the scab will fall off. This is where a scar may appear. Scars can appear pale pink, brown or silver in color.
Types of scars
Depending on the severity of the injury, there are many different types of scars, including:
- Atrophic scars
- Hypertrophic scars
- Keloid scars
- Contracture scars
Each type of scarring has its own characteristics. For instance, atrophic scars are characterized by the loss of tissue, while hypertrophic scars form excess tissue over the skin as it heals.
Caused by an overly aggressive healing process, keloid scars typically extend beyond the original injury. This type of scar tends to hamper movement and may require surgery to be treated. Other forms of treatment include steroid injections and silicone sheets to flatten the scar. If it’s small, some providers may recommend using cryotherapy to remove it.
To help prevent a keloid scar from forming, apply pressure to the injury.
Caused by a burn to the skin, contracture scars can be serious. When these types of scars tighten, they can impair the ability to move or breathe.
If a contracture scar goes deep, it can even affect the muscles and nerves.
Similar to keloid scars, hypertrophic scars appear raised and red, but they do not form beyond the boundary of the injury.
To treat a hypertrophic scar, providers typically recommend steroids to help reduce inflammation or silicone sheets to help flatten the scar.
People who have had severe acne can experience acne scars that range from deep pits to marks that appear angular.
Treatment depends on the type of acne scar. Over-the-counter creams can be helpful, and in some cases, options like a chemical peel, microneedling or laser treatment may be helpful to minimize the appearance.
Scar tissue removal
When it comes to treating scar tissue, consult with your provider to determine the type of treatment that is best for your specific scar.
Laser scar removal
Using focused light therapy, laser treatment is a great option for many people. It works by either removing the outer layer of the skin’s surface or stimulating the production of new skin cells to help cover the skin cells that are damaged.
The blood vessel–specific lasers can be used to lighten flat or raised scars that are pink or purple in color, a good option if the scar is raised and needs to be flattened.
While laser treatment can’t completely remove a scar, it can effectively minimize the appearance and thickness of the scar.
If you and your provider decide that surgery is the best way to remove the scar, the options are a skin graft, excision (removal) or laser surgery.
For contracture scars, or scars from a burn, it is typically recommended that the scar tissue be removed entirely. In this situation, a flap of adjacent healthy, unscarred skin is moved to form a new incision line.
What is a skin graft?
If a healthy flap of skin cannot be used during surgery, the surgeon may opt to do a skin graft. During this procedure, the surgeon detaches a section of skin completely from one part of the body and uses it to cover the affected area.
A skin graft requires special techniques that will encourage new blood vessels and soft tissue to form again.
How to minimize the appearance of your scar
While many scars lighten on their own over time, there is no way to make a scar completely disappear. Some home remedies that help a scar be less noticeable include:
- Aloe vera
- Vitamin E
- Coconut oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lavender and olive oil
- Potato (yes, potato!)
- Rose hip and frankincense
- Baking soda
See how to create each of these at-home remedies.
Can you prevent scarring?
Unfortunately, scarring is an important part of the healing process.
When you are caring for your wound, it’s important that you keep it clean by using soap and water. Do not use hydrogen peroxide as this can further damage the skin and cause the scar to worsen.
Wounds that are deep or large may need stitches to ensure that the skin heals properly and minimizes scarring.
If you need surgery, your surgeon can help to minimize the appearance of a scar by planning the excision. This allows the scar to stay camouflaged by hiding it near other anatomical structures or within wrinkle lines.
As long as the wound doesn’t become infected, the appearance of the scar should be minimal.
CareNow® can help refer you to local specialists
If you’re dealing with a scar that you’d like to have removed, CareNow® can help you find a specialist near you.
Before your appointment, be sure to use our Web Check-In® so you can avoid the waiting room.