Scarring on the body is a fact of life that impacts almost everyone. Sometimes the scars are caused by a simple accident while other scars are a result of abnormal wound healing. Is there an effective way to treat excessive scars that are a result of abnormal wound healing? The answer is “yes” and the solution is laser therapy according to an article in the December 2013 issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. The magazine is the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
The article focuses on Dr. Qingfeng Li of Shanghai, China and her research on using laser treatment on hypertrophic scars. Dr. Li supports the use of lasers on hypertrophic scars but not necessarily on keloids. The difference in the scars is this: Hypertrophic scars are limited to the area that was initially injured while keloids have been known to spread beyond the area that was first injured. Also, keloids are more common in individuals with darker skin. What they do have in common is abnormal tissue responses that can result in areas with raised scarring that need to be addressed by cosmetic surgery.
Dr. Li, along with her colleagues at Shanghai’s Ninth People’s Hospital, analyzed a number of studies previously conducted on laser treatment for abnormal scarring. A majority of the studies focused on treating hypertrophic scarring with laser therapy. The remaining handful of studies focused on the treatment of keloids.
The data from the patients studied showed a very good laser treatment success rate. In fact, the success rate was around 70% for both types of scarring. Two specific lasers provided the best treatment responses: The 532-nm (nanometer) laser and the 585/595-nm pulsed-dye laser. Some studies showed if a patient is undergoing multiple laser treatments, the optimum time between treatment sessions is 5-6 weeks.
It should be noted that Dr. Li and her colleagues do not claim their research is the definitive word on the subject. They call for further research of laser therapy treatments. Interested in learning more information about their research? A good article about Dr. Li’s study on laser treatment for scars can be found here.
It is finally summertime which means outdoor activities are on the rise. Family vacations are more frequent, kids are taking trips to the pool with friends and bike riding and baseball games are happening on a daily basis. Unfortunately, all of these fun activities come with the increased chance of injuries. During the summertime, people tend to get involved in small accidents that result in cuts, scratches and minor skin injuries which can also lead to scars.
There are a number of steps that you can take to help reduce the potential scarring that result from these small, to medium sized, accidents. According to Dr. Ellen Marmur, an associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, “The appearance of a scar often depends on how well your wound heals. While scars from surgery or over joints like the knees and elbows are hard to avoid, scars caused by minor cuts and scrapes can become less noticeable by properly treating your wound at home.” Dr. Marmur shared this info in a recent (June 9th) news release from the American Academy of Dermatology.
Some of the tips offered by Dr. Marmur for reducing the appearance of scars include:
• Gently wash the injury site with a mild soap and water to keep germs out and also to remove any debris from the injury.
• Apply petroleum jelly to stop the wound from drying out and then forming a scab. (Wounds that result in a scab take longer to heal and the petroleum jelly will help prevent the scar from getting too large or itchy.)
• Once you’re applied the petroleum jelly to the wound area, be sure and cover the wound with an adhesive bandage. Changing the adhesive bandage on a daily basis will help keep the wound clean while it heals.
• Depending on the size of the wound, you might need to use more than petroleum jelly to clean and care for the wound. Larger scratches and wounds could require hydrogel applied to them if they continue to have persistent redness.
Some summertime scrapes and wounds might be so severe that they require surgery. If this is the case, follow the advice of your doctor on caring for your wound. The initial care, and subsequent advice, from your doctor can help minimize the lasting impact of the scar.
One more piece of advice from Dr. Marmur involves the use of sunscreen on the wound area when you go outside. The sunscreen needs to be SPF 30 or higher to help prevent scarring. According to Dr. Marmur, no scar can be totally eliminated but most do fade over time. She also recommends seeing a board-certified dermatologist because “a dermatologist can answer your questions and talk about ways to make your scar less visible.”
Summertime can be a lot of fun but it’s also a season filled with scrapes and scratches thanks to people having rambunctious fun. The best thing you can do (besides be careful while having fun in the sun) is tend to your wound as quickly as possible. The faster you tend to your fresh wound, the less likely your chances of having a permanent scar as a reminder of the summer of 2015.
Scalp MicroPigmentation is one of the newest non-surgical procedure which allows patients to improve the appearance of balding areas by the use of dermal pigments. This procedure can be done without the use of any anesthetics. The doctor performing the procedure is required to carefully match the dermal pigment with the color of the patient’s hair. After making the match the pigments will then be superficially introduced into the skin decreasing the level of pain and minimizing the risk of the pigments spreading.
Left: Before SMP; Right: After SMP
Scalp MicroPigmentation is an ideal procedure for those who have male patterned baldness, scalp scars, female patterned baldness. Patients who do not have enough donor hair to adequately cover the balding area can use this procedure to help add to the look of the area which is balding.
The only disadvantage that this procedure has is that patients need to have touch up once every few years as the color will fade away. In order to know if you are a candidate for the procedure and how many sessions you would require, you would need to call a doctor offering this service to schedule a consultation appointment.
Many of us will have the experience of getting scars, but some may wonder what is a scar? Scars occur when the skin starts to heal itself. Once the upper layer of the skin is damaged, a person’s body begins to form collagen fibers to close the wound. Once the wound is completely healed, scars will begin to form. There are many factors that can cause scars to form different shapes and colors.
Scars start off by appearing red in color, which is when the blood vessels are inflamed and damaged. This part is known as hyper pigmented scars. Once a scar matures, the skin pigment will be lost and the color will change to white, which is known as hypo pigmented. Scars take approximately six to twelve months to completely heal and become white. The size, shape, and depth of the scar are all factors that contribute to how the scar will look after completely healing. In order to prevent darker scarring and infection, it is important to always keep the scar area clean and moist, during the healing process.
Although you can never get rid of scars, there are many treatment options now that can help to camouflage the look of the scar. Some types of treatments are topical creams, surgery, dermabrasion, steroid injections, laser resurfacing, and filler injections. Depending on where your scar is located and the size of the scar, your doctor can recommend you to try one of the treatments.
When your hair curls around and can’t grow out of the skin it is referred to as an ingrown hair. This problem is commonly mistaken for pimples. Ingrown hair is known to be found on the cheeks and neck for men, especially after shaving. Women in most cases find ingrown hair on their legs and sensitive shaving areas. Those who have curly hair are more prone to getting ingrown hairs, especially because their hair can easily be curled underneath the skin preventing it from growing out properly.
Just like what is seen with pimples, when one has an ingrown hair, it produces a small raised red bump. That bump will be itchy and many times might be sore to the touch. Treatment for ingrown hair may not be necessary at all times because ingrown hair sometimes tends to go away on its own. However, if the ingrown hair does not go away, it is best to treat it as it may leave a dark spot or scar on your skin. If an ingrown hair becomes infected, a doctor’s visit is necessary where they can safely use a needle to release the hair.
If you have scarring from an ingrown hair, it is best to see a dermatologist so they can observe the scarring and recommend treatment options for you. Some treatment options may consist of using a bleaching cream, laser treatment, microdermabrasion, or chemical peels.
Scalp scars from any procedure such as scalp reduction, old plug surgery, trauma or neurosurgical procedures can be treated to minimize the look of the scar. Modern hair transplant yields natural, proven, and permanent results along with special wound closure techniques to minimize scars.
Here are some methods that a hair transplant surgeon can use to reduce the visibility of the scar:
Left: Before Scar Revision, Right: After Scar Revision
1. Simple Scar Revision: This method can be used if there is a wide scalp scar due to the initial technical problem during the wound closure.
2. Scar Revision and Trichophytic Closure: This method allows the hair to grow inside the scar, which helps to minimize the contrast between the scar and the surrounding areas of the scalp.
3. Hair Transplantation inside the Scar: In this method, the hair will be harvested from other areas of the scalp and will be transplanted inside the scar to blend the scar with the rest of the hair. The hair will be harvested through the FUE hair transplant technique. The benefit of using this technique is that with FUE, follicles are extracted individually, giving the surgeon the opportunity to place them into the scar without having new scarring.
4. Scalp Micro Pigmentation on the Scar: By introducing dermal pigments into the scar, the visibility of the scar can be significantly improved because it helps reduce the contrast in color between the scar tissue and the surrounding scalp area.
In order to know which technique would fit your needs, it is recommended to visit an experienced hair transplant surgeon.
Scarring is the result of tissue fibers replacing normal skin after a trauma. Scarring can result from surgery, burns, open wounds, or any other abrasion of the skin. Scars are caused when the deep thick layer of skin, also known as the dermis, is damaged. Once trauma occurs, the body forms a collagen fiber which aids in the healing process of the wound and causes a scar. Because the tissue is a different consistency and quality the scar becomes visible.
Some scars can be easily hidden, while other will always be visible. Even though scars can never be removed completely, there are procedures offered that will improve the appearance of the scar. Laser resurfacing can be used to remove the surface layers of the skin, resulting in a less visible scar. If a person has a larger scar, surgery is an available option to reduce the size of the scar. Scalp Micro Pigmentation is a new method being offered which uses dermal pigments to camouflage the scars on hair bearing areas of the scalp or face.
If a scar leaves an indentation in the skin, you can use filler injections to raise the scar to the level of the surrounding skin. This type of treatment will be temporary, meaning it should be done a few times a year. If you have a keloid scar, scars that are raised, steroid injections can help flatten the scar giving it an enhanced appearance.
To reduce heavy scarring, topical creams and ointments can be used directly after trauma. Certain scars will fade away after a year and will not need any special method of treatment. For all other cases, it is best to see a specialist who can further assist you.
Whether it’s a child bumping his head on the edge of a table or an adult slipping with a kitchen knife while cutting up vegetables, accidents happen no matter how careful you are being. Injuries and scars often- abound. After a cut it is impossible to not have a scar, but there are things you can do to lessen the severity of any lasting marks. Some scars are called sexy at times but for the most part people don’t like scarring.
Scar Prevention: Do’s and Don’ts
To help heal the skin with as little residual scarring as possible, there are steps you may take, and mistakes to avoid. “The key to lessening scarring is to decrease the amount of work the body has to do to heal the scar,” Krant says. Here’s how:
- Stitches can be used if needed. Often times when you have a cut that is spread apart or deep its always better to have them stitched by a medical professional. Always keep in mind that when the wound or injury is fresh, stitches must be sewn as soon as possible. If you let too much time pass by since the injury, the wound can become contaminated with bacteria, germs, and the doctor will not want to stitch it closed because of the risk of infection. But the wound may start to heal, which can obstruct successful suturing. When having doubts if whether stitches are in order, contact a doctor in a timely manner and let him decide the best treatment for the wound.
- Applying petroleum jelly to the wound and covering it with a non-stick bandage, and alsokeeping the wound moist, can speed up the healing and minimize scarring, says Krant.
- Scar Creams and Ointments – There will always be advertisement for scar creams, don’t fall for them. You may have herd that vitamin E can help with reducing the scarring, but this actually has been proven in high-quality studies (a double-blind, placebo-controlled trail). As a matter of fact, there is no over-the-counter product claiming to prevent scars that has been scientifically shown to significantly improve scarring.
- Massage the wound – Krant claims, that by massaging the scar daily with vitamin E may help promote a less visible scar.
- Avoid the sun – By keeping the scar away from sunlight it can help minimize discoloration.
- Let it heal naturally – When using hydrogen peroxide constantly on a wound it would cause irritation and slow down the healing process. Krant says “Scabs are nature’s biologic dressing, Picking off a scab repeatedly when a wound is trying to heal will slow healing and increase scarring.” So it would be best to not pick on scabs.
- Healing takes time, perhaps a long time. So be patient. The first stage of healing takes three months, followed by the second stage that lasts another three months. One year after the injury the injury has already been formed, but the scar still may change in the following year. “The truth is, that scars never stop changing and improving unless they are keloid scars, which continually worsen unless treated by a physician,” says Krant.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Innovative Treatment for Scalp Scar RevisionFUE for Scar Revision
Follicular units (FUs) are the individual removal of the tiny organs that produce our hair shafts. Hair loss is a growing elective surgery but very beneficial for people who are suffering from low self image and quality of life issues from hair loss.
Like all surgeries hair transplants leave a scar. Dr. Parsa Mohebi, medical director of US Hair Restoration center is pioneering method of combining two procedures to render these scars virtually undetectable in many cases. The combination of FUE and SMP are small procedures that can be used in the revisioning of a hair transplant scar.
The surgeon can extract a small number of grafts from the permanent zone and artistically and strategically place them in the scar. This process of using FUE uses hair to obscure and blend the margins of the scar to the surrounding scalp. Scalp Micro-pigmentation (SMP) can be used to further blend the scar in many cases.
SMP for Scar Revision
Scalp Micro-Pigmentation is the process of using special pigments and fine needles to create the shade of stubble or shaved hairs on the scalp. SMP utilizes dermal pigments that match the patient’s hair color. Used in scars like FUE it can artistically applied revises the margins of the scars. This revision results in the obscuring or blending of the scars margins to the surrounding scalp.
FUE and SMP
FUE and SMP are a very non invasive way of revisioning a hair transplant scar. Patients can consult a hair transplant surgeon for recommendations on achieving the best results. These modern advances in scalp scar revision are performed in Los Angeles leading hair transplant centers like US Hair Restoration.
No single group deals with more debilitating scarring then victims of war; both military and civilians. The decade of wars heralding in the 21st Century has left millions of people suffering from life changing injures. Along with the emotional and tragic psychological scars are the physical scars as a reminder. There are organizations globally seeking to help people who unfortunately suffering from the life lone effects of debilitating human conflict. Share this resource with any person who can benefit.
Thanks the MEDSCAR team.
The Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) is a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary network working to develop advanced treatment options for our severely wounded servicemen and women. They develop advanced treatment for severely wounded servicemen and women. This organization is designed to speed the delivery of regenerative medicine therapies to assist the most injured service members. The five major research programs include Burn Repair, Compartment Syndrome Repair, craniofacial Reconstruction, Limb and Digit Salvage, and Scarless Wound Healing.
Air Force Wounded Warrior
The Air Force Wounded Warrior ensures great care, services, and assistance before and after wounded warriors separate or retire. They have a strong emphasis on ensuring wounded airmen individualized guidance and support to help them transition out of the Air Force and back to civilian life. The Air Force Wounded Warrior, working closely with the Secretary of Defense programs, will keep these men and women on active duty.
Iraq Star, Inc.
Iraq Star is a recently founded non-profit organization. It offers surgery for disfigured veterans. Iraq Star recruits plastic surgeons across the country to provide free cosmetic surgery for soldiers who want to fix their deformities including scars.
Scars To Freedom
Scars to Freedom Foundation, provides FREE scar revision to all Military Veterans. This is our way of thanking them for their sacrifice and service for our Country.