Scars are extremely common. Often they are minor and quite inconspicuous. But sometimes they can be a reason for considerable distress. Scars result from a perfectly normal process of wound healing. Wounds could be as a result of trauma, burns, acne or many other causes.
Scars are composed of tissue which have different properties when compared to the native tissue it replaces. This leads to an alteration in appearance and function. Severe scars can end up with impaired function of the affected part.
What determines the extent and severity of scarring?
It depends on the severity of the injury. The wounds which are deep and take longer to heal usually end up as bigger scars. It also depends on an inherent scarring tendency of an individual. Some of us tend to get prominent scars with trivial trauma. Keloids are scars which grow beyond the boundaries of the original wound. Elderly tend to get better scars than younger individuals.
Can anything be done for better scars?
During wound healing steps taken to expedite the process helps. If a wound takes a long time to heal, the resultant scar tends to be more severe. Scars are living tissues which undergo remodeling. This leads to a change in dimension as well as appearance over time. A scar once formed can be modified with various surgical and nonsurgical methods. Various activities like massage, occlusion, use of pressure garment and application of silicone sheet help in obtaining more favorable scars.
What is the role of injections in scars?
Various agents like steroids are indicated in individuals with hypertrophic scars. Persons with hypertrophic scars have red and raised scars. Steroids act by modifying the remodeling of scars. These injections are often repeated at regular intervals.
Platelet-rich plasma ( PRP) is a platelet concentrate obtained from autologous blood used in the treatment of acne and burn scars. They help by locally providing growth factors.
What is the role of surgery in treating scars?
The indications are either cosmetic or functional. Treatment options depend on the type of scars. Different factors are taken into account like pigmentation, contour abnormality, the presence of contracture and orientation of a scar in relation to neighboring landmarks. Various surgical treatments include scar revision, dermabrasion, excision and coverage with graft or flap.
What can be expected with scar revision procedures?
Better scars. When properly planned and executed they lead to a more pleasing appearance. Scars can not be totally eliminated. But it is usually possible to make them less noticeable.
When can a scar be operated?
Once the scars are mature and supple. But if there are significant functional problems, the patient may be advised to undergo an early correction. This is decided on a case to case basis.