A scar is a natural part of the body’s reaction to wounding or injury and is correlated with healing. Skin scars occur when the dermis (the deep, thick layer of skin) is damaged. The worse the initial damage is, the worse the scar will generally be. Most skin scars are flat and leave a trace of the original injury that caused them.
Scars come in all shapes and sizes depending on the type/severity of the wound. A scar usually takes 12 to 18 months to fully mature and some can take up to 24 months to develop a stable form and appearance.
How Are Scars Formed?
An injury does not become a scar until the wound has completely healed. Wounded body tissue grows too much collagen because the wounded collagen is not as strong as normal collagen. Scars form differently based on the location of the injury on the body and the age of the person who was injured.
For instance, scars on the face heal much better than scars on the chest or back.
There are several factors that determine the level of scarring that each individual patient will encounter, including:
- Nature of the wound
- Depth and size of the wound
- Location of the wounds
- Age of the patient
- Ethnicity and heredity of the patient
Scars can be treated with topical skin care, a variety of lasers, and injectable treatments. In our practice, we have several lasers that allow us to customize treatments based on the severity of the scar tissue that has formed: flatten raised scars and raise depressed scars, remove the lines of a scar and even the color of the scars.
The Active/Deep FX laser resurfacing treatment is fractional CO2 resurfacing laser, which is excellent at treating acne scars and surgical scars.
The Affirm Multiplex is a fractionated non-ablative laser that can improve a scars appearance.
The Q-Switched Nd:YAG, Alexandrite and Ruby lasers can remove the pigmentation in scars and are especially helpful in removing dirt from scars.
For red colored scars, we are able to use the Pulse Dye Laser (Cynergy or VBEAM) or the Intense Pulsed Light (Lumenis One or M22). They both use a beam of light at a specific wavelength and are specifically used for the vascular component of scars. In addition, they can also cause scars to flatten.
Our office offers complimentary cosmetic consultations to any patient wanting to get a scar removed.
Making a Comeback: Andrea’s Story
Andrea was in outstanding physical shape last October, in the midst of training for Ironman Arizona, when she experienced something that would change her life forever…a severe bike accident.
85 miles into a ride, riding downhill, she hit an abrupt raised part of the road in the bike lane and was catapulted through the air. The next thing she remembers is sitting on the side of the road with waves of pain rolling through her entire body. Everything hurt. She was immediately taken to one of the trauma centers.
Andrea spent the next four nights in the hospital, having suffered severe cuts all over her face. Two of the three cuts located near the eye went as deep as to the bone. She had 35 to 40 stitches in her face alone, with more all over her body.
Recovery has been long, painful and frustrating. She started physical therapy 4 to 6 weeks after the crash and relished in all of the small victories like being able to walk without a limp, using weights, box jumps and just sweating.
In the last few months, she has returned to training but still is not quite 100%. Her biggest issue now is the scarring on her face and body. In addition to the scars, dirt and asphalt is embedded under her skin. It’s uncomfortable and makes her self-conscious to the point that she sometimes just didn’t feel like leaving her house. She has to make sure that the scars are protected from the sun at all times, which is a challenge now that the weather is warming up. Andrea came to our practice and started seeing Dr. Goldman at least once a month for laser treatments with the pulse dye laser, intense pulsed light, q-switched Nd:YAG, and Deep FX lasers to reduce the appearance of her scars.
Andrea says, “I’ve learned so much from this whole experience. I’m so much stronger than I ever thought I was. I’ve learned a lot about what is important and what’s not. I’ve learned about the depth of the unwavering love and support from my Mom and husband. And, I’ve been amazed and humbled by the people who have been supportive, tolerant, patient and loving. Thank you Dr. Goldman! Because of you I’m no longer a hermit in my own house.”
Next, read our blog, Sleeping Your Way to Better Skin.