When you think of a scar, probably only one image comes to mind. However, there are many different types of scars, and while some fade over time, others actually get bigger and more aggressive. While most of the time, scarring is manageable and barely noticed (and sometimes even considered a badge of honor!), sometimes extensive scarring or scarring in a prominent location like the face can affect self-esteem, first impressions, or even affect everyday activities. If you’re struggling with a difficult scar, read on to learn more about different types of scars and what you can do to improve them.
What Causes Scarring?
The skin is one big organ, and it is constantly replacing old skin cells to make way for the new. However, injury or trauma to the deep layer of skin (the dermis) causes a rush to heal and renew that area as quickly as possible. The body creates new collagen (a structural protein that give skin its flexibility and support), and a scar forms— tissue that looks very different from the rest of the skin and leaves a telltale sign of past injury.
Different Scar Types
There are several different types of scars, depending on the nature of the injury. These scars have their own particular appearance and behave in unique ways.
The most common scars people get are the everyday flat and pale scars that often start as a darker color but fade gradually over a period of months. This type of scar often fades to the point that it becomes nearly invisible, and generally does not need treatment unless the scar is particularly large or prominent.
A more persistent type of scar than a basic scar, hypertrophic scars are raised, but do not exceed the boundaries of the original injury. This type of scar is unlikely to fade on its own.
While almost everyone has experienced acne at some point or other, acne scarring is generally only a problem for people who struggled with cystic acne, a severe and often chronic type of blemish. Acne scarring is shallow and pitted, and can be concentrated across the face.
Burn-related injuries often lead to a type of scarring known as contracture scars. This is because these scars tighten the skin, particularly when they cover a large area. Severe contracture scars can also affect the muscles and nerves of the affected area.
The body is aggressive when attempting to heal a deep wound, and unfortunately, sometimes it goes a little overboard. Keloid scars refer to continual production of collagen that extends beyond the bounds of the wound and forms a large, raised scar that resembles a growth, often dark in color. Keloids can get so large that they interfere with movement, or become simply distracting, and they can be very embarrassing for people who get them. There seems to be a genetic link to keloids, so the problem tends to run in families, and is most common in people of African, Asian, or Hispanic descent.
Attempting to prevent scarring in the first place is always a good idea, though it doesn’t always work. Cocoa butter and vitamin E are often applied for this purpose near the end of the healing period. Any chance to minimize the eventual impact of a scar is worth a try.
Steroid injections are often used to reduce and flatten a raised scar, but this takes a series of many injections long term.
Surgical treatment is a good option for large or prominent scarring, and there are many different techniques used to camouflage or reduce the size of a scar. While there is a recovery period associated with surgical treatment of scarring, many people find the boost to their self-esteem following surgery well worth the discomfort and inconvenience of surgery.
Other options for certain types of scars include skin resurfacing, often using lasers. This type of treatment is usually reserved for shallow scars that cover a broad area.
Only a skilled plastic surgeon can help you figure out what treatment is right for you. Regardless of the procedure you choose, you will want to find the best doctor you can to help you reach your goals.
Finding a Plastic Surgeon
Surgery in itself is a traumatic experience for the body, so it takes a very skilled surgeon to be able to surgically improve the appearance of an existing scar. It is very important to seek out the best plastic surgeon you can find for your scar repair procedure, particularly if your scarring is located on the face.
Dr. Edward Buckingham is a skilled and experienced in improving the appearance of scarring using a number of different techniques. Dr. Buckingham believes in tailoring the procedure to suit the patient’s needs and produce a beautiful, natural result. If you would like to speak with a facial plastic surgery expert who focuses on compassionate and customized care, call Buckingham Center in Austin, Texas today at (512) 401-2500 and schedule a consultation with board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Edward Buckingham.