Everyone desires to have a spotless skin, free of any scars or spots. A scar is an unsightly spot on the skin that can result from injuries, burns, acne, blemishes, chicken pox, and surgeries. If you are someone who is dealing with tough acne scars or an unfortunate injury scar, here is a guide to help you explain what causes scars, scar treatment methods, and measures to prevent a scar from occurring.
What Is A Scar?
A scar can be defined as a mark that has appeared on the skin, or within, resulting from a skin condition, such as a wound, sore or burn. When a burn, wound, acne or surgical area doesn’t heal completely, fibrous connective tissues develop over the affected area leaving a permanently visible patch on the skin.
Causes Of Scars
There are various factors that can lead to scars. These factors include –
- Surgical incision or cuts
Different Types Of Scars
In order to treat a scar, your dermatologist will carefully review its appearance and identify its type based on various factors.
The main types of scars are listed below –
- Ice Pick Scars – They are known to be deep, narrow, pitted scars. They are one of the commonly occurring acne scars on the skin surface. Ice pick scars begin as a comedone, which is formed when oil secreted from the sebaceous glands combines with the dirt or impurities in the hair follicles.
- Rolling Scars – These are the scars that have broad depressions with a sloping edge. This type of scar is commonly found in individuals who have long-term inflammatory acne. They tend to become more pronounced as the skin ages and loses its original elasticity and fullness. They are known to occur when bands of tissue develop in between the skin and its’ subcutaneous layer. These bands create a visible “rolling” effect.
- Boxcar Scars – These are the scars with broad depressions with sharply defined edges. Their edges are steeper than the rolling scars, and they are wider than the ice pick scars. They are known to be developed as a result of tissue loss from a severe acne breakout.
- Atrophic Scars – They are known as flat, thin or depressed scars, which occur when the skin produces insufficient collagen or the connective tissues to heal an infection site. These can be a result of anetoderma, which is known to be an uncommon condition when elastic tissue in the dermis is lost, resulting in a depression in the skin.
- Hypertrophic Or Keloid Scars – These are thick, lumpy scars that are elevated and raised in the appearance. Opposite to atrophic scars, these occur particularly when the body secretes excess collagen on the injured or affected area.
Also Read: Best Scar Revision Treatments
How Is A Scar Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of a scar is based on the below factors –
- Appearance – based on size, color, thickness, and sharpness.
- Place – if you have a scar on parts of the body with lesser blood flow, such as the leg or foot, healing will take a longer time. On the other hand, if a scar is present where blood circulation is more robust, such as the face or scalp, healing time would be faster.
- Growth and pain over time – based on the scar’s nature and progression.
What’s The Prognosis Of A Scar?
Scar prognosis is a matter of understanding its nature and behavior. When an injury happens, a wound occurs and when a wound heals, a scar occurs. Therefore, the nature of the injury is one of the most important considerations when it comes to diagnosis of a scar. A few other considerations include orientation of the wound in relation to the normal lines of skin tension, its location, and pattern. These are a few determining factors in the final appearance of a scar.
But, studies prove that scars generally improve in appearance over the first year. Therefore, your dermatologist will provide the final assessment after maturation of the scar.
Best Scar Removal Treatments
The aesthetic appearance of a scar is one of the most important factors to judge the surgical/non-surgical ways by which a scar can be treated or managed. Studies prove that 80-90% of the scars found in people are due to collagen loss resulting in atrophic scars. Hypertrophic scars and keloids make up the minority balance of this percentage. Depending on the scar type and nature, your dermatologist will review your condition and advise you a suitable treatment.
Listed below are a few ways through which a scar can be treated –
- Laser Resurfacing For Scars – This method uses an intense light beam to treat the scar. This treatment can further be categorised into two methods, namely ablative (removal of a thin layer of skin) and non-ablative (tightens sagging skin and stimulates collagen). Laser resurfacing treatment can be used to remove or improve the look of superficial scars from acne, surgery, and trauma.
- Microdermabrasion For Scars – In this non-invasive procedure, the superficial layer of dead skin cells is exfoliated. The procedure involves sandblasting the skin with a micro-crystal that peels off the top skin layer. Microdermabrasion is effective on both sunken and raised scars, however, because of its superficial nature, it works better on raised scars than on sunken scars. It corrects the skin by smoothing the edges and surface of the scar, and also lightens the area around the scar.
- Filler Injections For Scars – Filler injections, also known as dermal fillers, help to treat and improve certain types of pimple scars, such as rolling scars and boxcar scars. It is a temporary method of scar improvement and the results can last up to 8-9 months.
- Microneedling For Scars – Microneedling therapy, also known as collagen induction therapy, is one of the safe treatments for managing post-acne scars. This treatment is performed after application of a local anaesthetic cream, using an instrument known as the dermaroller. This is a sterile, ultra-fine, surgical needle-studded cylinder. The needles cause small pinpoint injuries on the affected skin and instigates the formation of fresh collagen and elastin, along with new blood capillaries being formed. Rejuvenation of existing skin cells and generation of new ones in the targeted area occurs.
Also Read: Microneedling Treatment
- Topical Treatments For Scars – Topical treatments for scar can help improve their appearance, however, they are incapable of removing them. There are a wide array of cosmetic and medicated scar creams available in the market today. These topical creams help to control the collagen level and aim to reduce the size of raised scars as well as get rid of the itchiness and pain.
- Surgery For Scars – If someone has a wide and thick scar that is unsightly, your dermatologist can suggest you a scar revision surgery. This surgical method for a scar removal is an advanced treatment employed to diminish the scar’s prominent appearance and make it blend in with the surrounding skin tone and texture. Through this method, a wide and long scar can often be made thinner and shorter.
- Steroid Injections For Scars – Steroid injections have been used as a scar revision treatment for a long time. Steroid is a class of hormones that are responsible for a wide range of biological processes, including stress response, immune response, regulation of inflammation, and many more. This treatment manages the raised scars mainly by reducing the collagen synthesis and the inflammatory phase of wound healing.
How To Prevent Scars?
Whenever your skin is injured, either by accident or surgery, your body works to repair the wounded area. As your wound heals over the time, a scar may form. This is a natural part of the healing process. Therefore, if you recently underwent surgery or met with an accident, you may have a great chance of acquiring a scar on the surgical/injured area. If proper preventive measures are taken, you can avoid scarring to happen. These include –
- Keep your wound clean – Wash the area with mild soap and water to keep germs away and remove debris.
- Keep your wound moist – Apply petroleum jelly as it locks moisture in the skin, which prevents the skin from drying out.
- Avoid sun exposure
- Get your bandage/dressing changed daily
- Do not use anti-scar or scar treatment creams without your doctor’s advice
Is Laser Treatment The Only Solution For Acne Scars?
There are various treatments for scars. These include –
- Punch excision
- Ablative laser
- Non-ablative laser
- Fractional laser
However, when we aim to get the acne scar treated, laser treatment is one of the best solutions that offers desired results. The laser treatment for scar removal is performed with strict medical protocols for maximum safety and efficacy to deliver a permanent and dramatic improvement in scarring.
How To Remove Acne Scars And Dark Marks – As Explained By Dermatologist
Types Of Lasers Used For Acne Scars Removal
There are mainly two types of laser treatments for scar reduction. These are –
- Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment For Acne Scars: It is an ablative resurfacing laser method, which uses the intense laser energy to create tiny holes through the surface of the skin. Therefore, the skin’s surface is ablated and new collagen production is stimulated to heal the skin and fill in the pitted acne scars.
- Fraxel Laser Treatment For Acne Scars: It is a non-ablative laser resurfacing method, which sends its laser energy through the skin’s surface, without disrupting the outer layers of the skin. This treatment takes a lesser amount of time to heal your acne than the Fractional CO2 Laser Treatment.
Also Read: How To Treat Acne Scars(Pits And Holes)
Both laser treatments are effective for scarring and are considered one of the best lasers to treat acne scars especially. To get more insights about these treatments, consult a dermatologist and ask for scar removal before and after pictures to help you see expected results.
Scarring can be distressing and stigmatising, especially when affecting the visible areas of the body, such as face, neck, hands, etc. As there have been significant improvements in medical science, there is a multitude of scar treatment options available. It is recommended see the dermatologist, if you have acquired a scar or have tough acne scar from a long time.