Scarring is a common skin problem. I see a large number of patients hoping to improve the appearance of acne scars, marks left by past injuries or surgical scars. There are many types of scars and similarly, many ways to treat them. Scar reduction treatments often take dedication as they usually take longer to heal than most skin concerns.
What causes scars?
Scars occur when the dermis, the second deepest layer of skin, is damaged by injury, surgery, picking at a scab, etc.
When a wound occurs, your skin goes into immediate healing mode and starts trying to close it up as quickly as possible.
Initially, a blood clot forms on the skin’s surface and covers the wound to form a scab. Then the dermis goes to work below the surface making new collagen and rebuilding the tissue.
Because your skin is in a hurry to repair itself the collagen may not get laid out in the neatly-organized lattice pattern that makes up the rest of your skin.
This hasty approach can result in a scar. Too much collagen creates a raised scar, while a lack of collagen makes an indented one.
Types of Scars
Keloid Scars – These scars are the result of an overly aggressive healing process. They extend beyond the original injury and are raised above the surrounding skin.
Contracture Scars – If your skin has been burned or if you have had radiation treatment, you may have a contracture scar. These scars tighten skin, which can impair your ability to move.
Hypertrophic Scars – These are raised, red scars that are similar to keloids but do not go beyond the boundary of the injury.
Atrophic Scars – These scars form a sunken recess in the skin, which has a pitted appearance.
Acne scars – There are a range of scars that can developed from acne.
- Icepick Scars: These are those deep, indented scars that may resemble a large pore. They occur when inflammation causes collagen below skin’s surface to collapse, leaving a depression.
- Rolling Scars: Rolling scars are depressions with rounded edges, and there are typically a few of them in one close area making them look like a continuous, undulating scar.
- Boxcar Scars: These scars are broad depressions with more defined edges. Boxcar scars occur when a cyst destroys fat cells under the skin resulting in an indentation.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation – These scars cause a dark spot on the skin’s surface that may resemble a freckle. Hyperpigmentation happens when melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin, or pigment) go into overdrive in the production of melanin at the site of an injury or inflammation caused by acne.
Stretch Marks – Stretch marks can appear as indented or raised lines that are either darker (purple) or lighter (white) than the skin tone that surrounds them. They can occur all over the body and happen when there’s extreme weight gain or growth that makes skin stretch, like during puberty.
If you do find yourself with an injury or damage to your skin, there are a couple things you can do to help heal the skin and prevent the development of a scar.
- Don’t Pick – The temptation is almost too much to bear, but if you can avoid picking and just let a scab or a blemish resolve and heal on its own, you’ll significantly reduce the chance of developing a scar.
- Keep Wounds Protected – When your skin is healing, moisture and coverage are the keys to helping it along. Keep a wound properly cleaned and covered, and avoid letting it dry out by regularly applying a medicated ointment like MediHoney.
- Continue Protection – After your skin has healed, keeping the area protected with SPF whenever you’re out will help prevent the scarred area from getting darker.
Minimizing and Treating Scars
While there’s no one-size-fits-all method, there are a variety of options for treating scarring.
Raised scars respond well to gentle dermabrasion techniques including the method utilised by the Oxygeneo 3-in-1 super facial. This type of scar may improve further with silicone gels applied topically. I have also found that acupuncture can help to accelerate the healing process.
Indented scars are best resolved with a series of in-office treatments such as dermabrasion via Oxygeneo, chemical and enzyme peels, and medical microneedling. These techniques stimulate new collagen production and use the body’s own healing abilities to smooth the skin.
I also recommend consulting with a skin health professional to create a homecare routine. In order for most lightening formulas to work effectively, they require time and consistent use. I typically recommend brightening formulas containing a combination of antioxidants, vitamin C, alpha hydroxyl acids, potassium iodide, and safe retinols. Daily SPF use is also important to prevent pigmentation concerns from worsening.
One of the most effective techniques I use at The Integrative Health Institute in the treatment of scarring is AHA/BHA Combination Therapy. A formulation containing lactic acid, salicylic acid and licorice extract is applied to the scar to soften or loosen scar tissue (protein fibers), promote scar tissues (protein fibers) in an orderly orientation (normalizing proteins) and promote even distribution of the scar tissue (collagen) relative to the surrounding skin level. This professional treatment can be repeatedly performed after 15 days or longer until a desirable improvement is achieved. It is predicted that a maximum improvement can be reached with up to six treatments (three months or longer), after which the degree of further improvement would level off. This technique is a fast process, and usually, a significant improvement can be observed after only one treatment and aftercare within 15 days. The success rate is high for this technique, and a degree of scar improvement varies depending upon the original scar condition (size, depth, etc.) Since this technique promotes re-orientation and re-distribution of the scar tissue in a natural or non-aggressive way, the chance of scar regeneration or recurrence is low and has not yet been observed. This technique can be used together with medical microneedling for enhanced results
To learn more about how to we can reduce the appearance of scars that are bothering you contact me to book a free 15 minute consultation. During that consult we will discuss where you are at, where you want to get to and how we can work together to help you achieve your goals.
Have a beautiful day!