What Are The Best Scar Removal Treatments?

Scar Removal Treatment

According to the type of scar, your doctor will determine the best scar removal treatment for you, considering your physical and genetic features and general health condition, after doing proper labs and tests. He will assess the scar location, any symptoms associated (itching or pain), any movement/joint dysfunction and how disturbed or obsessed the patient is due to the existence of the scar (effects on self-esteem and relationships with others).
The American Academy of Dermatology states that no scar can be completely removed, even if its appearance can be improved. After 2004, no more prescription drugs were available for prevention and treatment of scars.

Scar Removal Treatments

Chemical peels – Peels are ideal to reduce acne scars that aren’t too deep. During this procedure, chemicals (an acid solution) are applied onto the skin to destroy the damaged part of the epidermis. This destruction is called controlled exfoliation. There are different chemicals that can be applied, depending on the depth of the peel (light, medium or deep), which varies according to the gravity of the damaged area.

People with dark skin or prone to keloid formation are often not recommended this treatment. Peelings are one of the most ancient cosmetic procedures in the world. They are quick, require only local anesthesia and they are safe, even though side effects can still occur, namely redness and stinging. Swelling, infection and cold sore outbreaks can occur after deeper peelings. Make sure you follow your doctor’s orders to prevent any of these and expect at least two weeks of recovery period at home, depending of the depth of the peel. The prices for this treatment range between $ 150 (light peels) to $ 6000 (deep peels).

Dermabrasion – With the patient under local anesthesia, this process removes the surface of the skin using an electrical device. It’s recommended for some acne scars and hypertrhopic scars. Dermabrasion is different than microdermabrasion which is a much softer treatment, many times even called “lunchtime peel,” which uses aluminum oxide crystals to remove very superficial scars and other skin imperfections. It is not effective on severe scars.

The dermabrasion treatment goes deeper than that but it’s still a quick fix – it takes about 15 to 90 minutes, depending on the size of the skin damage. After 2 or 3 weeks of downtime, you can go back to work and to your social life. If you experience pain, the doctor can prescribe medication. During a few days up to a week, you’ll feel burning and tingling and the area will look swollen and red. Then, a crusty scab will appear and when it falls off, you’ll see a pink layer of skin appearing, which may itch for some time.

Some side effects may occur after dermabrasion: abnormal pigmentation, persistent redness or the appearance of a keloid. So make sure you carefully choose a certified professional to decrease the chances of these effects. Older people and dark-skinned people are not recommended this treatment. Older skin heals more slowly and dark skin can get discolored. Also, people with active acne could get infections from dermabrasion, as well as patients suffering from serious allergies.

Injections – Hypertrophic and keloid scars can be improved using injections of steroids and interferons, whereas atrophic and acne scars are usually treated with injections of dermal fillers like collagen or hydraulic acid.

1. Steroids – Whereas topical steroids are inefective on Hypertrophic and keloid scars, these scars may benefit from a series of steroid injections, usually done at 4 to 5 week intervals and combined with surgical treatment. Steroids are applied into the scar to help soften and flatten the tissue. Since the scar tissue becomes thinner, this treatment can have side effects on patients deriving scars from ruptured tendon operations. Apart from that, the treatment has minor side effects because the steroids are injected directly into the scar and very little flows into the blood stream. Hypertrophic scars improve within 6 months but keloids take longer than that, and even though the scar does flatten, it’s common for the keloid to return when the treatment stops.

2. Interferons – Like steroids, interferons can be combined with surgery to improve keloids. Interferon is a protein found in our immune system to fight off bacteria, viruses and other harmful pathogens.

3. Dermall fillers – Dermal fillers can be injected into atrophic scars in order to raise them to the regular skin level. There are different kinds of fillers and your doctor can choose one made with hyaluronic acid (such as Restylane or Perlane), collagen (Cosmoderm), or even fat tissue taken from parts of your body.

Since collagen is a natural protein that can be found in our body, side effects are minimized and this made it a very popular treatment. Still, skin reactions and scar worsening can occur. Usually no anesthesia is needed, but on sensitive patients, a topical one can be applied. The patient goes home and within a few days, any swelling or redness disappears. This type of treatment is relatively quick, taking only about 30 to 60 minutes per session at the doctor’s office.

Dermal fillers are not a permanent solution. Over time, they break down in our body and, therefore, must be re-injected every few months or so. But because it’s a quick treatment, it’s also more affordable than others. Depending on the type of injections and how many you need, each injection can cost between $ 250 and $ 400 dollars.

Laser treatment – Hypertrophic, keloid, stretch marks and acne scars are the best candidates for this type of treatment, which usually involves the use of non-ablative lasers during a certain number of sessions determined by the doctor. Using a high-energy light, your doctor will heat up and redistribute collagen (while cooling the areas at the same time) to reshape the skin and make it smoother, less red, with an overall improvement on the texture.

Stretch marks, hypertrophic and keloid scars are usually treated using a pulsed dye laser (non-ablative, which preserves the top layer of the skin), even though stretch marks don’t respond to this treatment as well as hypertrophics and keloids and, therefore, other combined treatments may be suggested by your doctor.

Ablative lasers (e.g. carbon dioxide laser) are more effective on acne and atrophic scars but the recovery period is longer than the post-non-ablative treatment. Similar to dermabrasion, the ablative lasers destroy the epidermis down to a certain depth. Even though non-ablative therapy can also be used on atrophic and acne scars, the ablative option offers better results. Swelling and tenderness are the most common side effects of laser treatment and can last for a few months, so you’ll need to be patient. Laser treatments can cost between $ 2000 and $ 3000.

Over the counter treatments – Topical remedies such as ointments, lotions and oils moisturize damaged skin and can be used under medical surveillance to treat scars derived from surgery and other injuries or wounds. It’s always better to talk to your doctor before choosing any of such treatments because some may actually not produce any results on the healing or improvement of the skin’s aspect and some can include corticosteroids or antihistamine creams that could result in allergies and itching. As an alternative to topical treatments, your doctor might recommend pressure or silicone treatments instead (see below) – these work both to prevent scars and improve their appearance.

Radiotherapy – For severe recurrent hypertrophic and keloid scars, a doctor may recommend the use of superficial radiotherapy but this only happens in extreme cases.

• Pressure dressing and semi-occlusive ointments – Even though clinical proof is yet to be documented, many people believe that gauze or other elastic materials and garments capable of applying pressure on a scar can eventually flatten and soften it, especially if it’s a burning or hypertrophic scar. Silicone scar sheets, on the other hand, seem to have medical approval up to a certain level to prevent scar formation and improve existing scars. One side of the silicone sheet is lined with transparent film or soft fabric and the other with silicone gel. The sheets can be applied on any part of the body because they come in different shapes and sizes. They are odorless and easy to apply.

Very similar to silicone sheets are two semi-occlusive treatments: petroleum jelly and dimethicone-based ointments. They are applied on the damaged skin to help the healing process and prevent scar appearance. Again, medical proof on their results is still needed.

Surgery – A surgical procedure to remove scars involves cutting out the scar tissue, creating a new wound and closing it up so that the new scar that forms comes shorter and thinner than the original scar. If the medical cut goes too deep, a multi-layered closure is needed for optimal healing to prevent dented or depressed scars from occurring. This type of treatment is usually effective on acne scars.

On hypertrophic and keloid scars, surgery still has a high recurrence rate (about 45%) and, therefore, new studies are being made to combine surgery and laser treatments to remove such scars. Until then, surgery on these scars must be immediately followed by steroid injections and in some cases (severe keloids), low-level radiation. The recovery for this treatment lasts from two weeks up to one year, when the final scar starts to fade. Prices vary according to many factors, including the type of scar and surgery.

Vitamins and Mederma

Vitamin C, E and Mederma (onion extract) have no effect on scar treatment. Many times. they even worsen its appearance by causing skin reactions and fading the skin pigment.

Insurance coverage

If you’re undergoing scar treatment due to cosmetic reasons, chances are that your insurance company won’t cover the costs. But some insurance companies cover scar removal treatments, in case the scar is physically impairing you in some way, like it sometimes happens with burn victims. In these cases, your doctor should write a detailed letter describing your situation to make a strong case with your insurance company.

Learn more about “The Different Types of Scars


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About Victoria Strander

Writes about the latest beauty procedures. Her articles are available for syndication. Use Contact Page for inquiries.


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