Scar Prevention and Treatment
What is Scar Tissue?
Scars. It's the body's natural internal band-aid. Scars form when there is injury to soft tissue and/or skin. Scars can vary in severity, color, form, height, and duration. They have these variations based on the severity of the wound, age, race, medication, and aftercare.
After injury, the body creates cells that are not organized like those of the skin or muscle. Imagine a tangled ball of yarn and you can picture the structure of scar tissue. Scar tissue can be a blessing and a curse. It's the body's natural defense to the wound and part of the healing process, but it's not ideal. Our body tries to create a permanent natural suture.
Different Kinds of Scars
Scar tissue is the lying down of proteins called collagen fibers. Sometimes the structure is more disorganized than others. It's the flat, pale scars that we don't need to worry about. Abnormal scars are:
- Hypertrophic - this scar is generally raised and pink or red in color.
- Kyloid - (pronounced key-loid) this scar is not only raised and discolored, but continues to grow and contains benign tissue.
Treatment for hypertrophic and kyloid scars should be directed by your physician.
For general scars, there are several products and schools of thought. Research does not show that topical treatments like vitamin E provide any benefit. Cocoa butter also has little medical evidence to back up it's use on scars. Keep in mind that not everyone heals the same way, and while some bodies may respond to these products, most may not according to research.
Mederma is a newer topical over-the-counter treatment that has proven to be somewhat effective. Mederma is a lightweight, gel-like coating that dries on like liquid band-aid. Consult with your health-care professional prior to use.
Silicone pads are now available over-the-counter. Silicone is believed to have softening properties for raised scars, and if applied with the right amount of pressure, can assist in the reduced appearance of raised scars.
- MEDERMA - Skin Care for SCARS
- NEOSPORIN Scar Solution
- Does Cocoa Butter Prevent Scars?
Find out what cocoa butter can do for healing.
- The effects of topical vitamin E on the cosmetic appearance of scars
Pros and cons of Vitamin E application to scars
Treating scar tissue at home usually involves some type of massage. Consult with your doctor or therapist before beginning a regimen. Scars often "adhere" to the tissues beneath, like gluing the skin to the muscle. This can restrict motion, cause pain and discomfort, and irritate surrounding tissues.
- Cross-Fiber Technique - Simply place your fingers along the side of the scar, and gently pressing down, push toward the scar. This is not a gliding technique - your fingers are stationary and you are mobilizing the structures beneath the skin. The protocol is to hold this for at least 90 seconds. Reposition fingers along the other side of the scar and repeat.
Petrisage - Gently grasping the skin and tissue around the scar, lift upwards with a light, squeezing motion. If your scar is new, do this very lightly the first few times. As you proceed over several days, you can become more aggressive. You may feel a burning or itching sensation, which generally indicates that the scar tissue is releasing.
While cocoa butter and vitamin E may not be necessary for scar treatment, they can be nice mediums for the scar massage you will do at home. Choose a lotion or cream that is right for you.
These massage techniques do not apply to the treatment of hypertrophic or kyloid scars. Do not massage any raised scar without the direct consent of your physician.
Cocoa Butter Scar Serum
Several medical treatments are available today. They vary from laser light therapy to pressure garments to surgical release of scar tissue. Ask your doctor or therapist which treatment is right for you.
- eMedicine - Laser Revision of Scars : Article by Keyvan Nouri, MD
Laser Revision of Scars - Integumental injury initiates the cascade of wound-healing events. In most cases, wound healing results in restoration of skin that is smooth and normal in appearance. Despite its normal appearance, repaired skin achieves on
- Pressure Garments - Burn Survivor Resource Center - prevent hypertrophic scars, burns
Burnsurvivor.com is a resource center for burn victims, their families and those who have experienced catastrophic burn injuries or wrongful death from third party negligence.
- Scar Revision
Trusted resources on scar revision surgery from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Scar removal surgery information, photos, surgeons, and more.
Preventing the scar in the first place is the best thing to do. If you have a scratch, wound, new surgical incision, etc., be sure to keep it moist and covered at all times.
- Drying out wounds is an old method that leads to more scarring and slower healing.
- Be sure to use a topical ointment or cream, and use gauze or band-aids.
- Change dressings daily.
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