Skin is a continuous organ that protects our bodies from infections. Like a fine piece of cloth, a small tear to the skin will result in a big difference in terms of how the skin looks like. Burns, injuries, surgeries or any other trauma will lead to skin scarring.
Scars are part and parcel of our bodies. However, when a scar develops in a place where it cannot be hidden, it becomes one of the sources of sleepless nights for most people.
Most scars, once they develop, become permanent. But, with different scar removal treatments in the market, it’s possible to reduce the size or change the appearance of most skin scars.
What is scar removal?
Scar removal is the reduction or change of appearance and thickness of a skin scar. It is impossible to completely remove scars from our skins.
There are four main types of scars, namely:
- Hypertrophic scars
- Contractive scars
- Acne Scars
These are red in color and they rise above the skin. Unlike other scars, these scars remain at the spot where the injury occurred. They can be treated using steroid injections and laser surgery.
These scars are common among people with African or Asian ancestry. They are believed to be caused by the overproduction of certain body cells.
They grow out of the skin and may interfere with mobility. Keloids can be treated with laser surgery, steroid injections, cryotherapy a kind of therapy that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze the scar, pressure treatments, and silicone gel.
These types of scars are caused by burns. They result in the tightening/contracting of the skin which in turn leads to the reduction of mobility. They have the ability to spread to the muscles and nerves.
These are caused by acne. They result in different appearances such as deep pits, angular and wavelike appearances.
Scar Removal Treatment
There are different scar removal treatment techniques. These include:
- Over-the-counter scar removal creams/gels
- Laser surgery
Scar Removal cream/gels
Scar removal gels are good for scars caused by surgical cuts or other injuries and wounds. The creams are either corticosteroids or antihistamine. While creams cannot completely remove the scars, they have the ability to flatten and smoothen them.
There are lots of different creams in the market. According to Amazon, the top ten best-selling scar reducing treatment creams include:
- Mederma Advanced and PM Intensive Overnight Scar Creams
- ScarAway Scar Sheets
- Sinclair Kelo-Cote Gel for Scars
- Kelo-Cote Advanced Formula Scar Gel
- Improved Medihoney Gel
- ScarOut! Silicone Scar Sheets for Scar Removal
- Ultimate Scar Formula
- Scarfade Silicone Gel for Scar Repair
- Smith and Nephew Iodosorb Gel Tube
- NewGel+E Advanced Silicone Gel for Scars
Most scar removal gels cost between $15 and $50.
Laser scar removal
This is an outpatient and noninvasive type of scar removal procedure. It uses micro-fine laser light to penetrate the layers of skin In the process removing damaged cells and replacing them with fresh new collagen and elastin.
This treatment reduces the appearance of scars and keloids. However, it doesn’t completely remove the scars. Skin laser treatments come in three main categories, namely:
- Ablative laser resurfacing
- Fractionated laser resurfacing
- Non-ablative laser resurfacing
Laser scar removal is highly recommended for injury scars, burn marks, acne scars, dark spots, age spots, and other types of hyperpigmentation.
Persons with light sensitivity problems are not advised to undergo this treatment because the procedure involves the use of a lot of light and heat. The procedure is also not encouraged for people under blood-thinning medications and those with active acne and skin sores.
The cost of a laser scar treatment ranges between $200 and $3400. Factors that determine the cost include the size of the scar, number of the scars, facility where the treatment takes place and the extent of the treatment.
What are the risks of scar removal procedures?
Scar removal preparation
Before you go for a scar removal treatment, you will first need to consult with your facial plastic surgeon who will be interested in your medical history and any present or past prescriptions.
Then, the surgeon will assess your scar and skin features to establish if you are the right candidate for the treatment.
Based on your medical history, the nature of your skin and scar; assuming you are found to be a good candidate for the treatment, the surgeon will discuss the available types of treatments and anesthesia, the nature of the facility where treatment will be performed, plus the possible risks and costs of the procedure.
Are there any risks or side effects?
Any risks or side effects you may encounter during or after scar removal treatment.
A scar treatment may result in the following side effects:
- Skin infection
- Nerves’, blood vessels’, muscles’ and lungs’ damage
- Allergies as a result of exposure to tape, stitching materials, and pastes, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
- Skin outline abnormalities
- Skin sensitivity, staining and bulging
- Profound vein clotting, cardiac and pulmonary difficulties
- Adverse reactions to anesthesia
What to expect after scar removal treatment.
The amount of time taken before one fully recovers from a scar treatment varies from one patient to another. The type of scar treatment will also determine your recovery time.
After the scar treatment, your surgeon may prescribe pain pills to make you feel relaxed. Also, your surgeon will provide you with special instructions that might include reduction of normal activity, adjustment of your sleeping positions and use of cold compresses.
It’s highly recommended that you follow your surgeon’s instructions or else your wound will not heal properly. In addition, after the treatment, your surgeon will schedule follow-up visits to check progress.
How to find a provider
Before you settle for a surgeon, make sure that she/he is certified as a dermatologist, by the American Academy of Dermatology, to perform this procedure. For the list of certified dermatologists, click here.