How Does Scarring Happen?
Scarring is a natural part of the healing process after an injury. Its appearance and its treatment depend on multiple factors.
The depth and size of the wound or cut and the location of the injury matter. So do your age, genes, sex, and ethnicity.
What Are The Types of Scars?
These are several different types of scars including:
Keloid scars. These scars are the result of an overly aggressive healing process. They extend beyond the original injury. Over time, a keloid scar may hamper movement. Treatments include surgery to remove the scar, steroid injections, or silicone sheets to flatten the scar. Smaller keloids can be treated using cryotherapy (freezing therapy using liquid nitrogen). You can also prevent keloid formation by using pressure treatment or gel pads with silicone when you are injured. Keloid scars are most common among people with dark skin.
Contracture scars. If your skin has been burned, you may have a contracture scar. These scars tighten skin, which can impair your ability to move. Contracture scars may also go deeper, affecting muscles and nerves.
Hypertrophic scars. These are raised, red scars that are similar to keloids but do not go beyond the boundary of the injury. Treatments include injections of steroids to reduce inflammation or silicone sheets, which flatten the scar.
Acne scars. If you've had severe acne, you probably have the scars to prove it. There are many types of acne scars, ranging from deep pits to scars that are angular or wavelike in appearance. Treatment options depend on the types of acne scars you have.
What Are Possible Treatments for Scars?
Scar treatments may include:
Over-the-counter or prescription creams, ointments, or gels. These products can be used to treat scars that are caused by cuts or other injuries or wounds. If you are under the care of a plastic surgeon and your scarring is from cosmetic or plastic surgery, ask your surgeon if over-the-counter treatment is an option. If not, there are prescriptions that may help. Often, treatments can include steroids or certain antihistamine creams for scars that cause itching and are very sensitive. Likewise, if you have scarring from severe acne, ask your dermatologist for advice. Your doctor can also recommend or use pressure treatment or silicone gel sheetings to help treat scars or as preventive care.
Surgical removal or treatment. There are many options to treat deeper scars depending on your particular case. These include skin grafts, excision, dermabrasion, or laser surgery. In a skin graft, the surgeon uses skin from another area of your body. This is often used with people who've had burns. If you've got scarring that impairs function, surgery can help address the functional problems. If you've recently had surgery that has caused scars, it is best to wait at least one year before making a decision about scar treatment. Many scars fade and become less noticeable over time.
Injections. You may get steroid injections to treat scars that stick out, such as keloids or hypertrophic scars. Your doctor may use this on its own or with other treatments.
Other types of injections, such as collagen or other "fillers," may be useful for some types of pitted scarring, although these are not usually permanent solutions.
Depending on the size and color of your tattoo, the number of treatments will vary. Your tattoo may be removed in two to four visits, though it may take as many as 10 more sessions. You should schedule a consultation, during which time a trained professional will evaluate your personal situation and advise you on the process.
Treatment with the laser varies from patient to patient depending on the age, size, and type of tattoo (amateur or professional). The color of the patient's skin, as well as the depth to which the tattoo pigment extends, will also affect the removal technique.
Laser tattoo removal has become much more effective with very little risk of scarring. Laser treatment is often safer than many traditional methods such as excision,dermabrasion or salabrasion (using moist gauze pads saturated with a salt solution to abrade the tattooed area) because of its unique ability to selectively treat pigment involved in the tattoo.
In many cases, certain colors may be more effectively removed than others. It is known that blue/black tattoos respond particularly well to laser treatment -- the response of other colors is under investigation.