Scars can be visual milestones of various experiences in your life, both good and bad. As most know, they are not the most appealing marks on the body and can be a dampener on your self-confidence and keep you in a vicious cycle of trying to conceal them. However, there is a chance that you can remove old scars permanently with treatments.
What Is An Old Scar?
A scar is essentially a mark left behind by an injury like a cut or a burn, or from skin conditions like acne or chicken pox. While some scars lighten to the point of zero visibility, some only fade and remain visible. These are old scars and are areas where there has been a higher than normal amount of collagen development during the healing process. A raised discolored scar is left behind and this is often permanent without treatment.
What Causes A Scar?
When the deeper and thicker layer of skin (dermis) is damaged, via injury or skin conditions, it prompts a response in the body for the development of new collagen fibres to help mend the affected area. The new scar tissue has a different look and feel when compared to the surrounding area.
While most scars are flat and light in color, some can be raised. These are called hypertrophic or keloid scars. Some scars sink below the regular level of the skin which is consistent when fat and muscle are lost in the affected areas. These are common post-surgery and in cases of acne. Other categorises of scars include atrophic (i.e. chickenpox) and contracture (i.e. burn scars). Stretch marks are also considered as scars and happen when the skin layer is under tension during the healing process.
Is An Old Scar Different From A New One?
Typically, old scars are marks left behind by completely (internally) healed injuries. Due to the formation of new collagen fibres, a different texture and tone of the skin are visible, which gives rise to the uneven texture that we associate with scars. New scars, on the other hand, are more surface level abrasions of the skin that do not prompt the body’s response of excessive collagen production. These tend to fade away with time.
What Can You Do For Old Scars?
Scars appear on any part of the body, but you are concerned when you get scars on the face, legs, knees, stomach, wrist and hands. The visibility of scars is more on people with lighter skin tone. Dermatologists widely believe that removing old scars is challenging because –
- Older skin contains less collagen and elasticity which
- Location of injury makes scarring more probable and difficult to treat
If old dark scars are making you self-conscious or embarrassed about your skin, learn about treatments that can remove or reduce their appearance.
Also Read: Best Way To Remove To Old Acne Scars
How To Remove Old Scars?
1. Laser Treatment For Old Scar Removal
Pixel and Secret laser resurfacing technologies are commonly used for the treatment of scars. They use erbium YAG fractionated lasers. This is when a single laser beam is split into multiple smaller beams, which creates micro-wounds prompting a response from the body in the form of collagen production. This helps heal over old dark scars, lightening them over time and making them disappear. Additionally, the laser treatment improves skin color, texture, and tone by getting rid of blemishes and reducing lines caused by constant muscle use.
- Laser based scar removal is non-invasive and safe.
- Popular in reducing appearance of old scars from face, legs, knees.
- Effective on light to old scars caused due to acne, chicken pox, cuts and burn marks.
- Targets precise area leaving surrounding skin.
- The treatment itself is painless when combined with a numbing cream and takes around fifteen minutes.
- The downtime is between four to five days where the older skin peels off.
Results can be seen in a week with respect to skin color and texture, and a reduction in scars and lines happens subsequently over six months due to the continued stimulation of collagen. A dermatologist will advise on the number of sessions and will customize treatment.
2. Chemical Peeling For Old Scars
Chemical peeling is an effective way to remove mild to superficial scars. In a peeling procedure, a chemical solution is applied to remove the old skin. However, for severe scars peels may not be a suitable solution. Based on the skin type, sensitivity and severity of scars, the dermatologists suggest the peels. Occasionally, chemical peels are used in conjunction with other forms of treatment. Chemical peels are popular to remove facial scars.
3. Surgical Scar Removal
Also known as surgical scar revision, this treatment uses invasive methods to remove the scar tissue and then join the normal skin together. Surgical options are usually done for more severe cases or when the scarring impairs function. In the event of scars from burns, skin grafting is the preferred choice of treatment. A surgeon uses skin from another area of the body to graft or join it to the affected area. All the scar tissue is not always removed depending on the severity of the old scar. Wide and/or long scars can be made narrow and shorter.
The downtime for surgical removal can be between one to two weeks depending on the amount of surgery performed. The areas may experience localized swelling, discoloration, and discomfort. Expect a course of medication, both topical and oral, and a lot of care (keeping the area dry, using sunscreen after the dressing is removed, etc.) to avoid infection.
Results will be more apparent in several months to a year as the scar continues to heal and fade. Keep in mind that sometimes it may require more than one session of surgery to achieve optimal results. Surgical solutions are preferred for more severe occurences of scars.
4. Scar Removal Creams
There are plenty of topical scar removal creams available in the market. In addition to this, any such over the counter product assures quick scar removal. But this is far from the truth. Even trained dermatologists find it tricky to treat old scars. So it’s advised to select a product that has a proven clinical effect. Also, make sure you are consulting a dermatologist to know the side effects of any such product. These creams are popular for removing old scar from face, legs, knees, hands and wrist.
5. Home Remedies For Old Scars
Do home remedies help to lighten the appearance of old scars? There are several claims that remedies like aloe vera gel, honey, coconut oil, lemon, apple cider vinegar and toothpaste help to fade the scars. However, such claims do not have any scientific backing. Researchers have found that natural solutions have little to no effect on removing scars or fading their appearance.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Scar Removal Treatment
- Always consult a dermatologist. Going in for a consultation before deciding on your mode of treatment will greatly influence the decision that you need to make. Severe treatment plans may not be required.
- Choosing the right clinic is important. Ask about medical registration, safety protocols, dermatologist’s experience, and the types of machines used before making your choice.
- Some treatments for old scar removal may require more than one session.
- Consider leaving some breathing room in your schedule after discussing the downtime for your customized procedure. This could also be a factor in cost and affordability.
- Ask your clinic for financial plans.
- Post-operative care is vital. These need to be followed strictly in order to achieve the best results. Conversely, report any side effects or out of the ordinary symptoms immediately.
While the memories might linger, there is hope to remove scars that come from life experiences. Keep yourself informed about the right kind of treatments by visiting a dermatologist and be on your way to a scar-free lifestyle.