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Everything You Need to Know About Scars

Everything You Need to Know About Scars

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, we each will develop at least one scar at some point in our lifetime. While scars are generally harmless and some will fade away over time, for others, they can be a constant reminder of an injury, skin condition, or a simple mark they’d rather forget about. Scars—from their causes to their appearance and their response to treatments—can be very complex. Fortunately, all of this complexity can be boiled down to some simple facts to help you understand why scars form and how you can reduce the appearance of unwanted scars for smoother, more even toned skin.

What Are Scars?

Skin is smart. When it experiences an injury, your skin naturally launches into repair mode to mend the tear. How well skin is able to repair an injury without any sign of damage depends on the depth of the injury. For those that extend to the inner layers of the skin (the dermis), skin kickstarts rapid production of collagen fibers, a protein considered to be one of the basic building blocks to healthy-looking skin, to mend the wound. However, in a rush to heal the wound, skin might mess up the neat lattice-like structure in which collagen is usually built. The thicker, less flexible skin that results from this quick repair is a scar.

When scars first form, they often appear pink or reddish in color and darker than your natural skin tone, lightening over time to appear white or silvery. If skin produces and directs too much collagen to the damaged area, scars will appear raised and may even grow to be larger in size than the initial injury. If excess inflammation occurs in or around the injured area during healing, the resulting scar will appear sunken, as inflammation will deteriorate the added collagen.

Who Gets Scars and What Causes Them?

While some of us are more susceptible to some types of scarring—thanks to genetics—anyone can get a scar and most of us will. Some skin and health conditions can increase skin’s fragility and may inhibit healing, resulting in a higher risk of scarring. Some common causes of scars are acne breakouts, rashes, burns, cuts, scrapes, surgery, and more.

Common Types of Scars

There are a few factors that can impact the way a scar forms and appears, including the cause of the scar, the appearance of the wound, where the skin was wounded, and how the wound was treated, alongside genetics, age, skin tone, and medications. The following are the six main types of scars:

  1. Flat scars (cicatrix): Initially pink to reddish in color and slightly raised, these scars eventually flatten out and match your skin tone. Flat scars are most common with proper wound care.
  2. Raised scars (hypertrophic): Rising above the skin’s surface, these scars are common on the chest, upper back, or shoulders. Flattening of these scars can take as little as a few months to as many as a few years.
  3. Depressed scars (atrophic): Sitting below the skin’s surface, these scars may be described as sunken or pitted and are most common on the face. Chickenpox or acne are common causes of depressed scars and, unfortunately, their appearance increases with age.
  4. Keloid scars: A type of raised scar, keloids tend to grow larger in size than the original wound. Keloids cannot be completely erased and may appear months or even years after the original injury.
  5. Contracture scars: When scars tighten skin to a point that makes it difficult to move, they’re defined as a contracture scar. Severe burns are the most common cause of contracture scars.
  6. Stretch marks (striae): Often the result of rapid fat or muscle growth, stretch marks may first appear to be bruise-like in color, but lighten over time, often appearing silvery. Stretch marks vary between being raised or slightly sunken.

Can You Get Rid of a Scar?

Once scars have formed, there is no way to completely remove them, so the best way to minimize the risk of scarring is to take good care of a wound while it’s healing. Keep it clean and moisturized with a medicated ointment, avoid skin-damaging hydrogen peroxide when possible, get stitches when needed to better mend skin, and never pick at a scab or blemish.

Once a scar has formed, it may be possible to reduce its appearance, though treatment varies with type of scar and its overall impact. For example, treating scars that restrict movement may require surgical intervention, but acne and other scars, including stretch marks, may be treated with a series of customized skin resurfacing treatments. While there are a variety of skin resurfacing options, advanced radio frequency (RF) skin resurfacing treatments offer a safe solution for all skin tones. These treatments utilize tiny pins to safely deliver heat deep below the skin’s surface via NanoFractional RF energy, creating tiny micro-dermal wounds. This spurs the body into a sort of controlled healing mode to repair signs of skin damage, including stretch marks and scars from acne, injury, surgery, or other skin conditions.

Finally, advanced stem cell therapy serums may assist in the proper healing of skin during recovery from a skin resurfacing treatment—a concentrated formula of stem cells works to suppress inflammation and promote healing. Products with hyaluronic acid also support proper healing by providing a moisturizing boost to prevent dryness.

Interested in learning more about whether RF skin resurfacing treatments are the right choice to minimize your unwanted scar? Locate a certified treatment professional for a consultation today using the search field below.

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