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Scar Management

Scar Management

A scar is an area of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after an injury. Any burn, injury, or other trauma, such as surgery, can cause a scar. The truth is the scar will never completely go away. But there are some methods that can help reduce its size and change its appearance.

Scarring is a part of every surgery and is very important to many patients for a variety of reasons: Scars may be painful, itchy or unsightly.

 What are the causes of Scars?

  • A scar forms on your skin when your body heals an injury. To get a scar, the wound has to go deep enough to injure the inner layers of your skin, the dermis.
  • The normal healing process in human tissue results in a scar.
  • Bites and scratches from animals or people.
  • Burns and scalds from hot objects or liquids.
  • Deliberate harm from a weapon or from self-harm.

 Types of Scars

  • Cicatrix - Appearance is flat or slightly raised with a pink or reddish color, although it may also be paler or darker than surrounding skin
  • Hypertrophic - Appearance is raised and firm, and it may feel painful or restrict movement.
  • Keloid - These scars are raised and grow to be larger than the wound that caused the scar. They can appear up to a year after an injury was sustained and can be itchy or painful.
  • Contracture - Scars that form when the scar tissue is tighter and thicker than the surrounding skin. They can restrict movement, particularly if the scar is near a major joint, such as a knee.

 Do scar wounds need air to heal?

Airing out most wounds is not beneficial because wounds need moisture to heal. Leaving a wound uncovered may dry out new surface cells, which can increase pain or slow the healing process. Keeping your cut or burn covered with a bandage can protect it from re-injury and infections.

 How can you prevent scars after surgery?

After surgery, you can minimize scarring with good incision care and by learning about other methods of scar prevention.

  • Keep cuts and incisions clean and covered.
  • Avoid scratching your scars. Healing wounds may itch, but you should avoid the temptation to scratch them.
  • Stay out of the sun.
  • Vitamin E can minimize scar.
  • Massage the scar with silicone gel or vitamin E.
  • Avoid putting stress on your wound.
  • Take the advice of your surgeon and avoid the gym.

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Frequently Asked questions

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). Keloid scars are most common among people with dark skin.
Scarring is part of the body's natural healing process after tissue is damaged. The scar gradually becomes smoother, softer and paler. Although scars are permanent, they can fade over a period of up to two years. It's unlikely they'll fade any more after this time.
Factors such as blood supply, sun exposure, skin thickness, and mechanical stress vary between body parts. These factors impact on scar formation. Areas with poor blood supply, thin skin, increased stress (such as front of the knee), and increased sun exposure may be more likely to scar.
How scars normally form. Scarring is part of the body's natural healing process after tissue is damaged. When the skin is wounded, the tissues break, which causes a protein called collagen to be released. Collagen builds up where the tissue is damaged, helping to heal and strengthen the wound.
Using petroleum jelly for scars may be beneficial during and after the healing process. Vaseline Jelly is known for protecting minor cuts and burns. This may help to improve the appearance of scars, making the skin look smoother and softer, as well as help to reduce itchiness caused by dryness.
In the early stages, scar tissue isn't always painful. This is because nerves in the area may have been destroyed along with healthy body tissues. But over time, scar tissue may become painful as nerve endings regenerate. Scar tissue can also become painful over the course of an internal disease.
It can take up to 12-18 months for a scar to heal. Most of the significant changes are in the first 6 months. A scar may go through several stages of healing before the redness fades and settles down into a fine whitish line. A normal scar will become darker initially, and after a period of time this will start to fade. Dark scars can remain for years or indefinitely in people with darker skin.
Sun exposure can cause further discoloration in scars, and scar tissue is more susceptible to sun damage than the rest of your skin. For these reasons, it is paramount to protect your scars from the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Ultraviolet radiation during early healing period can lead to increased risk of all scar formations, including hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation. Avoidance of sun exposure to scars is the best way to prevent hyperpigmentation.
Scars are unpredictable and vary from person to person. Scars form when the dermis (deep, thick layer of skin) is damaged. The body forms new collagen fibers (a naturally occurring protein in the body) to mend the damage, resulting in a scar. Certain areas of the body are more at risk of scarring, such as the chest, the back, the ear lobe and the shoulder. Scars that form on the knees and shoulders can appear stretched or widened as a result of the healing process occurring over movable joints.

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