What is a scar?
A scar is the body's natural way of healing and replacing lost or damaged skin. A
scar is usually composed of fibrous tissue. Scars may be formed for many different
reasons, including as a result of infections, surgery, injuries, or inflammation of
tissue. Scars may appear anywhere on the body, and the composition of a scar may vary--appearing
flat, lumpy, sunken, or colored. It may be painful or itchy. The final look of a scar
depends on many factors, including the skin type and location on the body, the direction
of the wound, the type of injury, age of the person with the scar, and his or her
What is a scar revision?
A scar revision is a procedure done on a scar to alter the appearance of the scar.
The revision may improve the cosmetic appearance of the scar or restore function to
a part of the body that may have been restricted by the scar. It is important to remember
that scars cannot be completely removed.
What are the different types of scars and treatment?
There are many different types of scars, including the following:
These are thick, rounded, irregular clusters of scar tissue that grow at the site
of a wound on the skin, but beyond the edges of the borders of the wound. They often
appear red or darker in color, as compared to the surrounding normal skin. Keloids
are formed from skin cells and connective tissue (fibroblasts) that begin multiplying
to repair the damage. These scars may appear anywhere on the body, but more commonly
on the face, neck, ears, chest, or shoulders. They occur more often in darker-skinned
people. Keloid scars may occur up to one year after the original trauma to the skin.
Treatment for keloid scars varies. There is no one simple cure for keloid scars. Recurrence
after treatment is common. Treatment may include the following:
Steroid injections. Steroids are injected directly into the scar tissue to help decrease the itching,
redness, and burning sensations that these scars may produce. Sometimes, the injections
help to actually decrease the size of the scar.
Cryotherapy. Cryotherapy involves the scar being "frozen" off by a medication. This treatment is
often effective in conjunction with steroid injections.
Pressure therapy. Pressure therapy involves a type of pressure appliance worn over the area of the scar.
These may be worn day and night for up to 4 to 6 months.
Surgery. If the keloid scar is not responsive to nonsurgical management options, surgery may
be done. One type of surgery directly removes the scar formation with an incision,
and stitches are placed to help close the wound. Sometimes, skin grafts are used to
help close the wound. This involves replacing or attaching skin to an area that is
missing skin. Skin grafts are done by taking a piece of healthy skin from another
area of the body (called the donor site) and attaching it to the needed area.
Another option is laser surgery. Scars may be treated with a variety of different
lasers, depending on the underlying cause of the scar. Lasers may be used to smooth
a scar, remove the abnormal color of a scar, or flatten a scar. Most laser therapy
for scars is done in conjunction with other treatments, including injections of steroids,
use of special dressings, and the use of bandages. Multiple treatments may be required,
regardless of the initial type of therapy.
Radiation treatment is often used in conjunction with surgery to decrease the risk
of recurrence of a keloid scar.
Hypertrophic scars are similar to keloid scars; however, their growth is confined
within the boundaries of the original skin defect. These scars may also appear red,
and are usually thick and elevated. Hypertrophic scars usually start to develop within
weeks after the injury to the skin. Hypertrophic scars may improve naturally, although
this process may take up to a year or more.
In treating hypertrophic scars, steroids may be the first line of therapy with this
type of scar, although there is not one simple cure. Steroids may be given as an injection
or by direct application. These scars may also be removed surgically. Often, steroid
injections are used along with the surgery and may continue up to 2 years after the
surgery to help maximize healing and decrease the chance of the scar returning.
Contractures are an abnormal occurrence that happens when a large area of skin is
damaged and lost, resulting in a scar. The scar formation pulls the edges of the skin
together, causing a tight area of skin. This can also occur as scars heal. The decrease
in the size of the skin can then affect the muscles, joints, and tendons, causing
a decrease in movement. There are many different surgical treatment options for contractures.
Some of which may include the following:
Skin graft or skin flap. Skin grafts or skin flaps are done after the scar tissue is removed. Skin grafts involve
replacing or attaching skin to a part of the body that is missing skin. Skin grafts
are performed by taking a piece of healthy skin from another area of the body (called
the donor site) and attaching it to the needed area. Skin flaps are similar to skin
grafts, where a part of the skin is taken from another area, but with the skin flaps,
the skin that is retrieved has its own blood supply. The section of skin used includes
the underlying blood vessels, fat, and muscles. Flaps may be used when that area that
is missing the skin does not have a good supply of blood because of the location or
because of damage to the vessels.
Tissue expansion. Tissue expansion is a newer technique being used, and involves a process that increases
the amount of existing tissue available for reconstructive purposes. This procedure
is often used in addition to the flap surgery.
Recovery from scar revision surgery
As with all surgeries, it is important to follow all instructions to help maximize
recovery and healing. Your healthcare provider will advise you on all activity restrictions,
depending on the type of surgery that was done. Although scar revision surgery may
provide a more pleasing cosmetic result. scars cannot be removed completely. Many
factors will be involved in the degree of healing of your particular scar, with some
scars taking more than a year to show improvement in appearance following surgery.