By Sacha Obaid
Scars, the result of deficiencies in the body’s natural attempt to heal itself, can take many forms. But no matter what form they take, they tend to leave people feeling uncomfortably self-conscious about the way they look.
Fortunately, there is an ever-expanding array of treatments cosmetic surgeons offer that are designed to reduce or remove the appearance of scar tissue. Below, we provide a brief description of some of most common types of scars, along with the best cosmetic treatments for scars.
Hypertrophic scars result when the cells responsible for healing become overstimulated and produce an excessive amount of collagen. The excess collagen prevents the skin from healing normally, leaving behind a raised, uneven surface that may appear inflamed in some cases but is usually restricted to the original injury site.
While steroids are a common treatment for light hypertrophic scars, in more severe cases a better tactic to remove the scar tissue is to combine steroids with skin resurfacing treatments such as laser resurfacing or dermabrasion. When treated by a trained surgeon, hypertrophic scars can be expected to fade with time.
Like hypertrophic scars, keloids result from the over-stimulation of the cells responsible for healing—but are much more severe. Often developed following body-piercing related injuries, these unsightly scars can grow and extend beyond the original injury site as the wound-healing process fails to regulate itself and collagen deposition continues out of control.
Due to their severity, keloid scars require more advanced cosmetic treatments. Combination therapies involving laser resurfacing and very attentive wound care offer the greatest chance for successfully reducing the scar’s visibility. Above all, the treatment of keloid scars requires a very motivated patient, as the recovery process demands frequent application of the prescribed bandages and medications.
Often caused by severe burns, contracture scars can be identified by the abnormal stretching and distortion of the skin. Severe contracture scars can be painful, limiting range of motion and even extending into underlying tissues in extreme cases.
Because contracture scars result from aggressive skin growth during the healing process, skin grafts are often used to reduce the distance over which skin must be re-grown to close the wound. These surgical techniques can be combined with topical treatments, skin stretching exercises, and special dressings to increase range of motion and promote proper healing.
While acne is generally unpleasant, squeezing or picking at acne or excessively exposing yourself to the sun can lead to acne scars. These scars can take many forms, appearing as tiny pits, large cavities or abnormally rough patches on the surface of the skin. Some acne scars can penetrate deep into the skin; others are more superficial.
Because the shape and size of acne scars can vary so widely, the best option/s for treatment will depend on the specifics of your case. However, there are a number of common techniques used to treat acne scars, including laser skin resurfacing, chemical peels and dermabrasion. These cosmetic techniques are often combined with topical treatments to promote gradual healing over a period of several months.