A scar is a memento which serves as a constant reminder of an accident, surgery, illness, or trauma one has experienced. Scars take years to reach their final appearance and go through many stages of healing and tissue repair. Each person heals differently and therefore scars will have a diverse end result on different individuals. The healing process of a scar has many stages and each stage may be affected by an individual’s physical health and comorbidities. Health issues such as diabetes, smoking, poor circulation, and propensity to form keloid (or large raised scars) may all impact how a scar heals and looks.
The process of scaring and healing is long and complex. Scar formation begins with constriction of blood vessels and the body sending special cells called platelets to the site of injury to ensure that bleeding ceases. Next, inflammatory cells and special “healing” cells from our body’s immune system help to “eat up” and remove bacteria and necrotic tissue at the site of injury to allow for healthy tissue to remain. Following the inflammatory phase, a proliferative phase occurs whereby a foundation of new healthy tissue is laid down. During this stage, new blood vessels form to supply the tissue with nutrients and the edges of the wound begin to contract and close the wound. The final phase of wound healing consists of collagen remodeling and growth factor repair in the new tissue. All of the phases intermingle with one another and work together in a complex process to give you your final scar result. Knowing how intricate the healing process is, one can surely understand why each scar looks different.
A fresh scar may sometimes appear pink in color. Many times our patients describe reddening of the scar with exercise or sweating. This color change seen in the scar is often due to tiny blood vessels feeding the newly formed tissue. Some patients may notice bumpiness in their scars that does not allow for the skin to lay flat. Overproduction of collagen in the final maturation phase of healing may continue longer than necessary and produce scar hypertrophy or a keloid scar. Our acne patients are also often concerned with scarring that looks divots in their skin; this is known as ice pick and rolling acne scars, left behind from years of acne breakouts.
Scars can often affect self-esteem and may drive patients to apply copious amounts of makeup for coverage. Fortunately, at the USF Health Cosmetic and Laser Center, we can improve the texture and appearance of scars. Scars respond best to therapy when they are treated within the first 6 months of their development. Our scar treatments consist of a variety of modalities used to target specific scar concerns. If color of a scar is the concern, a pulsed dye laser can often be used to rid scars of their reddish appearance and any surrounding superficial blood vessels. Texture is best improved with the use of our eMatrix Sublative™ procedure to increase collagen and elastin in the area of the scar. Sublative™ is also one of our favorite treatments employed to improve the appearance of acne scars. Texture and color can also be improved with the use of Laser Genesis, a heat based technology with no downtime. Other modalities of scar treatment such as the use of our favorite scar products Scar Esthetique®, Scar Fx®, and Rejûvasil™ may also be part of your scar treatment plan.
The best way to go about improving the appearance of your scar is to set up a consultation at the USF Health Cosmetic and Laser Center so that one of our healthcare providers can assess your scar and work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Don’t let your scar get another day older, come in and see us!
By: Erika Dare, ARNP-C, Cosmetic Practitioner