Everyone has had a scar at one point in our lives.
When the skin obtains an injury, a scar comes into existence.
Scar development depends on multiple factors. Some of the factors include:
- The size of a wound, bigger wounds are more susceptible to scarring;
- A person’s age and gender;
- A person’s nationality; and
- Genetic factors
Always keep in mind that a scar will never truly disappear, it will only be reduced in size and appearance to an extent that will make the scars hardly noticeable.
There are different treatments available that aid in the reduction of scar appearance.
Types of Scars
- Contracture scars: contracture scars usually form after a severe burn. These scars feel rigid due to skin tightening. These scars can go deep into the nerves and muscles and possibly limit the affected areas’ ability to move and function normally.
- Keloids: keloid scars result from cell overproduction. These scars are typically big and smooth in texture. Keloid scars have the ability to grow bigger over time and can cause mobility problems.
- Hypertrophic scars: hypertrophic scars occur when the skin gets injured thermally. These scars usually rise above the skin and are red in color. Dissimilar to keloids, hypertrophic scars do not become bigger, and can actually fade over time.
- Acne scars: Acne scars are scars left behind by acne. As discussed in a previous article, there are several kinds of acne scars. Treatment for acne scars depending on the type of scar and its severity.
In a previous article, we have discussed the different types of acne scars and how to get rid of them.
As a refresher, acne scars can be grouped into three: hyperpigmentations, atrophic, and hypertrophic.
Hyperpigmentations are what we commonly refer to as blemishes or dark marks on the face.
These dark marks are caused by melanin overproduction.
Hyperpigmentations have the ability to fade over time, but can be sped up using certain lightening creams.
Go for creams that contain a decent volume of Vitamin C, arbutin, kojic acid, licorice extract, mulberry extract, niacinamide, etc.
Avoid ones that contain the ingredient called “hydroquinone.”
Hydroquinone has been considered to potentially cause cancer.
For people who have dark skin tones, especially African-Americans, we highly discourage the use of any lightening creams as it can permanently affect the melanin production and result in an even worse hyperpigmentation.
Additionally, products like creams or gels that contain retinoid is also a good option.
Albeit more expensive, retinoid products are regarded to work quicker than regular lightening creams.
Retinoid products are not only effective in treating acne scars, they’re also known to regulate acne itself and improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Retinoid helps speed up cell turnover and raise collagen production.
However, retinoid also raises the skin’s sensitivity to UV rays.
It is highly encouraged to only use the product at night and always wear facial sunscreen, even if you didn’t apply retinoid products in the morning.
Atrophic acne scars are sunken in appearance resulting from skin tissue (collagen) damage.
The three classifications of atrophic acne scars are the following:
- Icepick scars are deep and narrow holes, can be mistaken as a large pore
- Boxcar scars are sunken skin that looks like craters
- Rolling scars are small and wavy in appearance that provides a “rolling” effect
Atrophic scars are commonly observed on the face.
Atrophic scars are not only difficult to rid, but also very costly.
These kinds of scars usually require dermatological procedures.
To this date, laser treatments are the most effective treatment for atrophic scars.
Opposite to atrophic scars, hypertrophic acne scars are elevated.
They are commonly found on the chest and on the back.
Scar Treatment Options
The following treatments are just some of the many options that can reduce the appearance of scars.
Over-the-counter or prescription creams, ointments, or gels
There are many products known to reduce acne scars.
It is always best to ask a dermatologist or a doctor for product recommendations.
Some products that they would surely recommend include antihistamine creams and corticosteroids.
Silicone gel sheeting and pressure dressing may also be recommended.
However, your dermatologist may also suggest a few invasive treatments like steroid injections, etc.
There are several surgical options to reduce acne scarring, mainly:
- Skin grafting: skin grafting is a surgical procedure wherein skin will be removed from a certain area of your body and transplanted into a different area.
- Laser treatment: unlike actual surgeries, laser treatments are usually non-invasive. The treatments differ depending on what kind of scar you have, how big the scar is, and how old the scar is.
- Excision: one of the many excision procedures used to treat acne is the punch excision, mainly used to treat ice pick scars.
If you’re leaning onto surgery, talk to your doctor and ask which anesthesia would fit you best.
If you’re a person whose scar is caused by a recent surgery (cosmetic, plastic, etc.), it is ideal to wait for at least one year before getting them removed through surgical treatments.
Injections are commonly suggested to treat elevated scars like keloids and hypertrophic scars.
Steroid injection is the most common treatment used for scar treatment.
Albeit optional, steroid injections can also be paired with other treatments.
Laser surgeries are mainly used to lighten dark scars, but it can also help flatten elevated scars.
Carbon dioxide laser (CO2 Laser) ablation is one of the many laser surgeries used to treat scars.
If the type of scar that you have causes aching and is physically affecting your overall condition, an insurance plan can help cover the treatment cost.
You can request your doctor to write a letter regarding your condition.
Your doctor can also include photos to further support and validate your case.
However, if you are not experiencing any physical pain and you simply just want a scar treatment to enhance your physical appearance, you will have to pay for the procedure yourself.
If your scars are left behind by a cosmetic surgery, there is still a slim chance that your insurance company will cover your expenses.
Most insurance plans do not cover scar treatments that resulted from a surgery that wasn’t medically necessary.