Scar Evaluation & Treatment
Scars are a natural result of the skin’s healing process after traumatic injury, surgical procedures, acne or other inflammatory skin conditions. This process is influenced by a number of factors including the size and depth of the wound, the location of the wound and the presence of infection during healing. Age, gender and ethnicity will also help determine the final appearance of a scar. Many patients seek treatment for scars that may be cosmetically bothersome and there is a wide range of treatment options available depending on the type of scar one has.
Types of Scars
Hypertrophic and Keloid Scars
Hypertrophic and Keloid scars are thickened and raised. They may also be associated with pain, itching, or other sensations. Some individuals are prone to forming keloid scars more easily. Keloids are more common in those with darker skin and in locations such as the chest, shoulders and earlobes. Treatment includes cortisone injections, laser therapy and surgical removal. If you know that you form keloids easily there are treatments that may prevent them from forming after surgical procedures.
Discolored scars are especially prevalent after the initial healing process is complete. Red and brown color can accentuate the appearance of an otherwise small and flat scar. Laser therapy, exfoliating agents, bleaching agents, and cosmetic peels can very effectively blend these scars into the surrounding skin.
Acne scars are a consequence of moderate to severe forms of acne. They are a source of embarrassment for many, even years after acne may have disappeared. Any of the above mentioned treatments might be appropriate for acne scars in addition to resurfacing lasers and microneedling. Treatment of underlying acne is vital to preventing further scars.
Scar Evaluation and Diagnosis
Treatment depends largely on the scar tissue diagnosis – treatment for one type of scar may not work for another – so an accurate scar tissue diagnosis is essential for a good outcome. Dermatologists perform scar evaluation and provide a diagnosis before suggesting various options for scar treatment. Scar evaluation includes:
- A physical exam
- A review of the patient’s personal and family medical history
- A review of what caused the scar, how long the scar has been present, if it has changed over time, and any associated symptoms, such as itching and pain
- Scar assessment and measurement, often using standardized scar assessment scales
- A biopsy to rule out skin cancer, if needed
Scar Treatment Options
Depending on the scar tissue diagnosis and the shape, depth, size and level of severity, the dermatologist may recommend one or more scar treatment options.
Laser Scar Removal
Laser scar removal involves skin resurfacing to remove skin layer by layer with precision. This treatment uses erbium-YAG laser technology. The water in skin cells absorb the erbium laser light; absorbing the light instantly vaporizes the cells. Each pass of the laser removes one 30 millionths of an inch. Laser scar removal works on all types of scars.
Dermabrasion for scars involves using a special brush to remove the scar’s top layers of skin. New tissue growing over the treated area is softer and has fewer irregularities. This scar treatment works to remove thick, raised scar tissue.
Microneedling is a scar treatment in which the dermatologist uses a handheld device that pricks the skin with tiny sterilized needles. Microneedling scars works by stimulating the production of collagen, which is a protein that give skin its structure and helps promote the growth of new skin tissue. Microneedling works on acne scars and many other types of scar tissue.
The best scar treatment is prevention of scar formation. If you have a skin biopsy, surgical treatment or invasive cosmetic procedure performed at the Center for Dermatology & Laser Surgery, we will equip you with the necessary tools to minimize any scar that may result. Contact us today to learn more about our cosmetic and medical dermatology services.