Removing Scars | My Experience
A few years ago I had a life threathening accident. I ended up on the intensive care. In order to stop the hemothorax ( accumulation of blood within the chest) they had to open up my chest just like they do with open heart surgery. A coronary artery had to be closed surgically to save my life.
Apart from the big vertical scar on my chest this surgery left I also had a few other cut scars on my face, lower back and neck. I was determined to do anything in my power to remove the scars. So I asked myself, 'how to get rid of these scars?'
Silicone Gel and Sheets
On advice of my doctors I started using all kinds of products. But after a while I had learned that most scar creams like Mederma, Bio Oil or Calendulan are not effective. They simply do not what they advertise to do. Apart from that I knew that there are as much different opinions on scar treatment as there are different products. I was disappointed that the level of education concerning scar treatment among medical personnel was this low.
That's why I started reading articles on scar treatment and contacted several cosmetic clinics to ask for advice. The cosmetic surgeon of one of the clinics told me that the best scar cream available was Zeraderm. This is a silicone cream that lays a thin film over the scar. This led me also on the discovery of so called silicone sheets. These are made of the same material as the silicone gel but seemed to work even better on scars.
"silicone sheeting has certainly come out as one of the best ways to deal with fresh and chronic scars" (Aesthetic Plast Surg, 1994; 18: 307-13).
Using the Silicone Sheets
After ordering the silicone sheets and the gel I started using them immediately.This took some dedication because the sheets have to be worn at least 16 hours a day, every day. When a particular sheet (or patch as they are called also) has been worn for a few days it gets less adhesive.
I used silk tape to make sure the sheets sticked to my skin. Sometimes, e.g. when sweating or with physical exercise the sheets and silk tape let loose despite the tape. So I had to reattach them. I mainly used the sheets and the gel only when I was not able to use the sheets. I found the gel especially suitable for areas not covered by clothes when I was out in public. This because the gel seems to be less effective.
But the good thing was that I noticed a very slight improvement already after a few days. The scars became softer. This motivated me to go on with this treatment. Already after several weeks I could see my scars improve to a less red, less thick and softer state.
Scar Removing Tips
During this time I also learned about other factors that add to removing scars. I found out that:
- For fresh scars, it is best to focus on over the counter products and non invasive DIY treatment. More intrusive scar treatments like steroid injections and surgery have more risks involved. Every time surgery on a scar is done a new scar will be created that has to heal again, resulting in new scar tissue.
- Massaging the scar can help with softening the scar tissue. It promotes blood flow to the area and breaks up tissue bound together. Make sure to do this gently and stop if it hurts or the scar gets red.
- The sooner you start the scar treatment the better the final result will be. You can start treating a scar right after a wound is closed but certainly not before the wound has healed.
Wound Care and Hydration
- Also important is to take proper care of the wound. The sooner it has healed the less scar tissue will develop. One part of the big scar on my chest did not heal. At first we (my family and I) thought I was scratching it in my sleep. But later on it turned out to be a little infection. This has resulted in a wider scar on that area. If I knew what I know now I would have used Manuka honey wound dressings. This special kind of honey really is exceptional but more on that on this page. Anyhow, it is important to keep a wound moist and clean.
- Clinical trials show hydration of scars is very important. Apart from using silicone patches use a cream or lotion to keep the scar tissue moist. I have experience with many scar creams and in my opinion they do not remove scars. Many dermatologist say the same. So any moisturizing cream will do. Again, the aforementioned Manuka honey is known for its powerful moisturizing properties.
Heath Application, Avoid Sunshine, Eath Healthy, Don't Smoke..
- Also proven by research is the fact that warmth can be a great addition to the ultimate scar treatment. A higher temperature of even 1°C increases collagenase activity. This is the enzyme that breaks down scar tissue. While silicone sheets already add to a higher temperature, heat application can be beneficial. I have not used this myself because I was not aware of this possibility back then but paraffin wax or heat packs can make a difference.
- Furthermore is it important to avoid direct sunshine on the scar. Keep in mind that the protection against solar radiation from most clothing is almost negligible. The SPF factor of a white cotton T-shirt is not even 10. You can protect the vulnerable scar tissue by sunscreen or thick plasters.
- Eating a healthy and well balanced diet will be beneficial as well as not smoking because smoking has a detrimental effect on wound and scar healing.
Mild Excercise and Pressure
- Mildly exercising can also improve the scar appearance. It stimulates the blood flow while more oxygen will flow through the tissue thus promoting the skins's own recovery ability. (It is thought that scars on the face and hands improve more because of the great amount of muscle movement and nerve activity in these area's) Keep in mind never to over stretch the scar because this will probably make it worse.
- Pressure on scar tissue also seems to be part of an effective treatment. Burn centers use pressure garments for special types of scars. How silicone sheets exactly work is not clear but it is thought the gently pressure they apply is one of the reasons.
So concluding, the ultimate scar treatment requires a fair amount of time and dedication. This is the reality, the stories about creams that will fade scars almost completely only by applying them twice a day are just not true.
But the good thing is that when you are dedicated and disciplined to use the products day in day out and have the patience to maintain during a few months you will eventually get an optimal result. My scars faded to a huge extent. Not only did they become almost skin color instead of the red color they were. They also are flat and soft and do not itch anymore.
So to Summarize:
The Best Scar Removing Products are:
Manuka honey wound care gel or Manuka honey wound dressings for fast wound healing
a good moisturizing cream
parrafin wax or moist heat packs
your fingers to massage the scar
The Best Additional Treatment exists of:
proper wound care
protecting it against sunshine
gently massaging it
keeping it covered and warm
Medical Grade Silicone Products
There are differences between silicone scar product brands. The so called medical grade products contain higher quality concentrations of silicones and have better adhesive qualities. An example of such a medical grade brand is ScarAway.
ScarAway silicone sheets are the only scar sheets with the patented Silon
technology. This is the same technology recommended by plastic surgeons and used in hospitals and burn centers. This Silon technology was made available for the consumer market in 2002 by Pfizer Inc. under the name Neosporin Scar Solution
Some General Scar Info
There are a few different types of scars:
* hypertrophic scars; red, thick and raised.
* keloid scars; grow beyond the original wound, can be painful or itchy
* Atrophic scars are skin depressions or indentations, often a result of acne
* contracture scars; tightening of the skin
* burn scars; a result of burn wounds.
Silicone sheets are proven to work on hypertrophic scars, keloids and burn scars. (many burn centers use them) They are also called the golden standard in scar treatment and are recommended by many (cosmetic) surgeons.
I have read they also seem to work on indented scars e.g. acne scars but I am not sure about that. There are also no known side effects to this product.There is a difference in brands though. The best brands are medical grade
higher concentration and better composition of silicones.
Removing Scars > Interesting Websites and Articles
- Silicone Scar Treatment | My Experience With Silicone for Scars
Silicone scar treatment is also referred to as the golden standard in home remedies for scars. Read about my experiences with using silicone patches and creams.
- scartreatmentblog.com Experiences, Studies & Clinical Trials
A blog on scar treatment based on my personal experiences, and research I have done on what works what doesn't.
Something about so called effective scar creams
Various studies have been done on scar treatment creams containing vitamin E and onion extract. (Mederma is such a onion extract based cream) Outcome was that these creams have not shown any benefit over petroleum lubricants and dit not seem to improve scar appearance. The advice of a respectable dermatologist was that these products will likely not cause any harm but will not lead to an improvement either.
Clinical trials illustrate that vitamin E provides no more effect than other emollient-type ointments, and hydration appears to be its only beneficial effect. Apart from that, the popular home remedy of rubbing opened vitamin E capsules on the scar may cause more harm than good. It can cause skin irritations (contact dermatitis)
Another supposed effective scar cream is Cocoa butter but on this product are no studies done.
The main benefit of using any lotion or cream might be that it is physically massaged into the skin and it is the massaging alone that is improving scar appearance. A study on the effectiveness of massage is being done at the moment so this will probably be cleared up soon.