A scar is your body’s repair mechanism, made up of collagen fibres that stitch areas of skin together. A scar is not brand new regular skin, like for like, but a sort of patch that behaves differently. For example, hair doesn’t usually grow out of scars, and scars can get sunburnt because they can’t produce melanin.
The size and depth of a scar depend on the original injury to the skin. When just the top layer of skin cells is damaged, you’ll likely get like for like skin repair; for example, a child’s graze tends to heal entirely with fresh skin and no scarring. An abrasion is a superficial wound. Deeper wounds require your body to patch up the gap with collagen fibres.
How types of scars look as they age
At first, scars tend to be pink or red, and as they age, they will lighten or darken. Scars almost always look different to your normal skin, but they can blend in or gradually disappear over time.
Scars are usually flat, though some scarring can be raised. The scar’s surface might be texturally different from other surrounding skin.
Some scars respond very well to scar treatments, while others are trickier.
Scars that restrict movement
Sometimes scars heal a little tight, restricting movement. Scars that need a bit of loosening up can benefit from our collagen remodelling treatments, such as micro-needling. While we can’t remove the collagen (unless surgical excision is an option for your scar), we can reshape it, making it less prominent and less restrictive.
Raised scars (keloid scarring, hypertrophic scars)
If your body made a lot of collagen to fill the injury site, you might end up with a scar that bulges above your other skin, also known as a keloid scar or hypertrophic scar.
Keloid scars are different to other scars in that if you are susceptible, a big scar can appear for minor reasons, such as getting your ears pierced, a picked pimple or a scratch, and spread.
When it comes to understanding keloid vs hypertrophic scars, keloid scars spread while hypertrophic scars do not. They’re just raised. Hypertrophic scar treatment differs from keloid scar treatment, which requires significant care to avoid further trauma to the skin and an increase in the scar.
Raised acne scars can also appear since acne can create a unique situation inside the skin, whereby scars can vary considerably.
Sunken, depressed or pitted scarring can occur when the wound is associated with inflammation, such as acne or chickenpox. A cavity develops under the skin, which leaves a dip in the surface once it heals. These sunken scars create a slight shadow on the skin.
Acne scar treatments vary depending on the type of scar (pitted, rolling, etc.). Talk to your dermatologist at ENRICH Clinic in Melbourne, and we’ll explain which types of acne scars you have and how to best treat them.
Proper wound care to help prevent scarring
How you deal with a wound after an injury can make a difference in how healing progresses and the scar looks. We aren’t always thinking about how a wound will heal when it first occurs, but remembering a few essential items can help minimise scarring.
Always keep a wound clean and free from infection. You can use antimicrobial solutions such as iodine or alcohol and wash the wound gently with soap and water. Avoid harsh agents that could further inflame your wound.
After cleaning and drying the wound, apply a barrier ointment to help keep the wound flexible such as pawpaw ointment or Vaseline. This moisture can be a pleasant relief from tight scabbing, particularly on flexible body areas like the knees or elbows.
Check with a medical professional to see if you need stitches. Stitches can make a huge difference in terms of scar size since if you draw together the sides of a wound, your body doesn’t have to fill such a big gap with the scar.
Taking care of scars
Every scar is different with a unique location, size, shape and depth. Getting good advice from your healthcare provider regarding wound healing is recommended, with care possibly involving massaging vitamin E oil or another cream into the scar and using other topical treatments to reduce the risk of infection.
Keep scars from the sun – the collagen fibres do not contain melanin and thus cannot protect themselves. Scars increase your risk of skin cancer, so be sun smart.
If a scar is causing you grief, see an experienced dermatologist at ENRICH Clinic in Melbourne for advice and treatment.
Reducing the prominence of scars with treatment and scar removal
We usually can’t altogether remove scars, as they are a permanent mark on our body, but we have a handful of effective strategies to minimise the appearance of scarring.
Scars can be a reminder of an event you would rather put behind you, so efforts to reduce their appearance can be very healing. At ENRICH Clinic in Melbourne, we understand scarring can be difficult to live with and work hard with our patients to remove, fade, shrink or remodel all types of scarring.
The type of treatment we recommend will depend on the scars we’re dealing with. Treatments range from laser and radiofrequency to micro-needling but can involve several effective treatment strategies.
Get in touch to talk over your scarring, and we’ll put together a plan to help you feel better in the skin you’re in.