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Scar Treatment and Removal

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Scar Removal

Scars, unfortunately, are virtually inevitable whenever the skin is breached, be it by accident or by design, as occurs during surgery. The healing process begins with inflammation, which stimulates the production of collagen, a fibrous protein that connects and supports the body's tissues. It's this collagen production that produces a scar.

Scar types include keloid (an overgrowth of tissue at the site of a healed skin injury), hypertrophic (raised scars), and atrophic (depressed scars). How your skin scars depends on a number of factors including the depth and size of the wound or incision, where it's located, your age, genetics, gender, ethnicity, and scarring history. Scars often become less noticeable with time, but they never disappear entirely. They can, however, be made less obvious through a variety of options: over-the-counter or prescription topical creams, ointments, and gels; silicone gel sheeting or tape; injections; lasers; and surgical scar removal or revision.

Many med spas offer the removal of scars resulting from cuts, burns, bites, accidents, surgery, stretch marks, and acne. Some treatment options work best with a particular type of scar. For example, keloid scars are the end result of an overly aggressive healing process. They are thick, puckered, and extend beyond the original edges of the incision or wound, and they're usually darker in color than the surrounding skin. They can be treated with injections of steroid medication directly into the scar, but laser therapy is also successful.

Performed under local anesthesia, laser scar treatment is done as an outpatient procedure. It uses a Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) that vaporizes a layer of skin as it's moved along the scar, revealing a new layer below. The regeneration process begins as early as 4 days after treatment, and as it progresses the scar's appearance is minimized by between 50% and 80%. Laser scar treatment also lessens the chance that the scar recurs, reduces redness, flattens scars, resurfaces the skin, and promotes collagen growth and the body's natural healing process.

Lasers of various wavelengths and intensity can be used to recontour scar tissue and reduce redness around healed lesions. The type of laser used is determined by the results sought. For example, fractional carbon dioxide (CO²) lasers treat areas of discoloration close to the surface and penetrate deeper in to the dermis to eliminate damaged cells and stimulate new collagen growth. The new collagen lifts and supports the skin's surface, improving its texture and the appearance of the scars. The number of treatments (usually between 1 and 3) depends on the depth of the scars. Post-treatment redness may persist for several months. People with darker skin or disorders like psoriasis, acne, and dermatitis may not be candidates for laser scar removal.

Mild scarring can be treated with microdermabrasion, which uses crystals to produce mild abrasion that smoothes out the surface of the skin and removes discolorations, and chemical peels, which generally contain a blend of various acids such as lactic, kojic, glycolic, and salicylic, as well as enzymes and other nutrients that cause the upper levels of the epidermis to slough off in the days following treatment. 

Peels get rid of damaged skin cells by removing the outer layer of skin to reveal the uncontaminated layer below. Microdermabrasion and chemical peels are often used together on facial tissues. It is also effective for diminishing stretch marks and acne scars.

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