Why Scars Heal Differently on the Body

Have you ever noticed that you can have scars on different parts of your body and they look dissimilar? When an injury breaches the layer of the skin, the skin cells and blood vessels become damaged and the body sends excess collagen to quickly repair the region.

Healing Rate of Different Types of Scars

This is the body’s way of forming a barrier to protect it from bacteria and germs. Depending on the amount of collagen sent, it can cause the wound to heal differently and result in scar tissue that looks and feels unlike the rest of the skin. Other factors that impact how a scar heals include:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Size and depth of the wound
  • Treatment methods
  • Location of the wound

Below is a quick rundown of different areas of the body and how scars normally heal in these regions.

Knees and Elbows

The knees and elbows are prone to heavy scarring since they are constantly being stretched. Therefore, the skin cannot properly regenerate and heal. The scar tissue may constrict mobility over the joints since the tissue becomes tight and less pliable. Severely limited mobility or pain may require scar revision surgery to improve functionality.

Chest and Shoulders

Per the National Institutes of Health, the chest and shoulder regions have the poorest results when it comes to extensive scarring because areas of tension produce thicker scars which appear more noticeable.

Legs

Scars tend to be thicker and more prominent on the legs since the skin is normally tighter and tougher than other parts of the body. Scars on the legs are inclined to be hypertrophic scars. Hypertrophic scars can be red in appearance and are raised above the surface of the skin.

Abdomen and Stomach

Scars on the abdomen and stomach generally heal well leaving a thinner, flatter scar. Surgical scars can usually be placed below the waistline or bikini line and are rarely seen while wearing everyday clothing. Additionally, this placement keeps the scar protected from the sun for optimal healing and to avoid hyperpigmentation.

The Mouth

When it comes to scars, the inside of your mouth is the best at healing. The intraoral tissue stays moist and can regenerate quickly. However, it is critical to keep the area clean to avoid infection. An infection will slow down scar formation and may generate a larger, denser scar.

Ears

A scar on the ear is generally thick and more prominent than others. This type of scar is generally a keloid scar. Keloids can be found on any part of the body but are common after an ear piercing. Like hypertrophic scars, keloids are red and raised. Unlike hypertrophic scars, keloids extend beyond the edges of the wound. Keloid scars can be minimized with pressure and topical scar treatments.

Preventing and Treating Scars

To keep scars at bay, you should keep the wound clean and moist until it has healed. Serious burns or deep cuts should be evaluated and treated by a doctor. Post-op instructions should be followed as directed to help minimize scarring. Silicone scar treatments can minimize scarring or reduce scars that have already formed. There are many different types of scar treatments available and each type of scar may respond differently to certain treatments. Consult with your doctor about which treatment might be right for your scar.

-SP

Are Scar-less Wounds Possible In The Future?

No Scar Incision

Have you ever stopped to think about how miraculous the human body really is? Each component in the body works in different ways to heal itself, sustain functionality and maintain its own lifecycle. The skin can heal the most horrific wounds leaving only scar tissue after it heals. Although it is effective mechanism, scar tissue is not visually appealing. Luckily, the possibility of scar-less wounds is making headlines thanks to to a recent study by The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

The University conducted a study using mice and human skin samples to do what was previously believed to be impossible. The team of scientists is confident that they discovered a means that allows skin to regenerate using fat cells. “Essentially, we can manipulate wound healing so that it leads to skin regeneration rather than scarring,” stated George Cotsarelis, MD, the Milton Bixler Hartzell Professor of Dermatology at Penn and chief investigator of the project.

Adipocytes are fat cells which are normally found in the skin but are lost when wounds heal as scars. Consequently, the most common cells found in the tissue during wound healing are myofibroblasts which are thought to only create scar tissue. Researchers also know that scar tissue does not have any hair follicles which gives it an atypical appearance from healthy skin. The research team used these distinctive features as the foundation for their thesis to manipulate the myofibroblasts into fat cells that won’t cause scarring. “Typically, myofibroblasts were thought to be incapable of becoming a different type of cell,” Cotsarelis stated. He went on to add that “our work shows we have the ability to influence these cells and that they can be efficiently converted into adipocytes.”

During the study, the researchers found that they must influence the tissue to regenerate within a specific time period after the wound occurs. Otherwise, they lose the opportunity and a scar will form. To determine the window of opportunity, researchers had to discover where the signals were coming from. Eventually, they determined that Bone Morphogenetic Protein can instruct the myofibroblasts to convert into fat. They also found that the key is to regenerate hair follicles first and then the fat will regenerate in response to the signals from those follicles. In other words, the study showed that fat and hair develop separately but cannot develop independently. The hair follicles form first but the fat will not form without the new hairs. Converting the surrounding myofibroblasts by regenerating the hair follicles is crucial to creating fat cells. Once the new fat cells are formed, they are identical to the pre-existing fat cells. This discovery has opened the door to the possibility of scar-less wounds. Adipocyte loss, or fat loss, is a natural result of aging which results in saggy skin, gauntness and wrinkles. The loss of adipocytes is also a known side effect of certain medical conditions and treatments including HIV treatments.

The study is still in its earliest stages and was merely used to demonstrate proof of the concept. The experiment has not reached the point of successful hair follicle growth from a wound on a living human. Until then, doctors and patients can still use various types of scar treatments including injectable fillers, laser treatments and dermabrasion.

-SP

Why Scars Heal Differently on the Body

Have you ever noticed that you can have scars on different parts of your body and they look dissimilar? When an injury breaches the layer of the skin, the skin cells and blood vessels become damaged and the body sends excess collagen to quickly repair the region. This is the body’s way of forming a barrier to protect it from bacteria and germs. Depending on the amount of collagen sent, it can cause the wound to heal differently and result in scar tissue that looks and feels unlike the rest of the skin. Other factors that impact how a scar heals include:

  • Genetics
  • Age
  • Lifestyle
  • Size and depth of the wound
  • Treatment methods
  • Location of the wound

Abdomen Scar healing process

Here is a rundown of different areas of the body and how scars normally heal in these regions:

  • Knees and Elbows

The knees and elbows are prone to heavy scarring since they are constantly being stretched. Therefore, the skin cannot properly regenerate and heal. The scar tissue may constrict mobility over the joints since the tissue becomes tight and less pliable. Severely limited mobility or pain may require scar revision surgery to improve functionality.

  • Chest and Shoulders

Per the National Institutes of Health, the chest and shoulder regions have the poorest results when it comes to extensive scarring because areas of tension produce thicker scars which appear more noticeable.

  • Legs

Scars tend to be thicker and more prominent on the legs since the skin is normally tighter and tougher than other parts of the body. Scars on the legs are inclined to be hypertrophic scars. Hypertrophic scars can be red in appearance and are raised above the surface of the skin.

  • Abdomen and Stomach

Scars on the abdomen and stomach generally heal well leaving a thinner, flatter scar. Surgical scars can usually be placed below the waistline or bikini line and are rarely seen while wearing everyday clothing. Additionally, this placement keeps the scar protected from the sun for optimal healing and to avoid hyperpigmentation.

  • The Mouth

When it comes to scars, the inside of your mouth is the best at healing. The intraoral tissue stays moist and can regenerate quickly. However, it is critical to keep the area clean to avoid infection. An infection will slow down scar formation and may generate a larger, denser scar.

  • Ears

A scar on the ear is generally thick and more prominent than others. This type of scar is generally a keloid scar. Keloids can be found on any part of the body but are common after an ear piercing. Like hypertrophic scars, keloids are red and raised. Unlike hypertrophic scars, keloids extend beyond the edges of the wound. Keloid scars can be minimized with pressure and topical scar treatments.

Preventing and Treating Scars

To keep scars at bay, you should keep the wound clean and moist until it has healed. Serious burns or deep cuts should be evaluated and treated by a doctor. Post-op instructions should be followed as directed to help minimize scarring. Silicone scar treatments can minimize scarring or reduce scars that have already formed. There are many different types of scar treatments available and each type of scar may respond differently to certain treatments. Consult with your doctor about which treatment might be right for your scar.

SP

Don’t Be Ashamed Of Your Scar

Be Proud of Your Scar

Everyone reacts differently to having a scar. Some people simply accept having a scar as part of their appearance while others work to find ways to treat or remove it. One thing everyone should realize is that there is no reason to be embarrassed about having a scar. The current hit song, “Scars To Your Beautiful,” addresses this very issue.

Don’t believe there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to having a scar? Here are 5 reasons you should not be ashamed of having a scar:

  1. The story they tell

Scars interest others and leave them wanting to know more about you. They are a daily reminder of your journey in life. The scar can be from an accident or even a birth mark scar you’ve had your entire life. Look at the scar as a way that your body shares your history with others.

  1. Scars can encourage others

Scars can raise awareness for a number of issues and causes. In fact, scars that are related to an illness can often give others the encouragement they need as they battle the same disease.

  1. They show the passage of time

Many scars tend to fade and change color as they heal. The appearance of your scar shows others how long you’ve had it as well as how far you’ve come in life since the scar first appeared.

  1. A scar can be educational to others

While you might not like to discuss the reason you have a scar, some people just can’t help asking questions about it. Talking about your scar can help others learn more about certain diseases or situations and even make them more open-minded.

  1. They make you unique

Scars can add character to your body as well as your personality. They make you just a little bit different than others and help you stand out in a crowd. Embrace your unique status and show others that you are someone to be noticed.

How the Sun Affects Scars

Sun and Scar

Did you know the sun can affect the appearance of scars both during the healing period and after they have healed? After the skin has been damaged and scar tissue forms, the new skin is very sensitive. Exposure to the sun can cause further inflammation in the tissue and create a multitude of side effects. Avoiding the sun helps with patient recovery by reducing the swelling, avoiding potential skin burns, minimizing tissue damage and scarring.

The sun plays a big part in how noticeable your scars will appear. It can darken a scar long after it heals and this is especially true for people who already have a dark skin tone. Many people believe tanning helps even out the skin tone between healthy skin and scar tissue to make the scar less noticeable. However, the UV rays of the sun can have a damaging and lasting effect on sensitive scar tissue. Healthy skin produces more melanin, or dark brown to black skin pigment, while tanning. The pigment absorbs the UV radiation and protects the skin cells from damage.

Scar tissue does not produce melanin which makes the scar tissue, as well as the surrounding skin, more susceptible to sunburn after a surgery or injury. Furthermore, scar tissue can sunburn more rapidly than healthy skin and alter the pigmentation of the scar tissue resulting in a discoloration or darkening of the scar. It can also cause the scar to thicken which creates the possibility of tissue damage.

The damage from UV rays can be permanent and the skin discoloration may never lighten to match the tone of the healthy tissue. Patients should completely avoid the sun for at least a week after surgery and limit any exposure thereafter.

It can take a full year for scar tissue to finally settle down. During this time, take precautions to protect the scar from harmful UV rays. Whenever possible, shield yourself from the sun to avoid exposure. Stay in the shade or cover up a scar with clothing. Sun hats and dresses are great for providing some protection but don’t forget to use sunscreen on a regular basis. This is especially true if the scar is on an area which can’t be covered easily. You should apply sunscreen each day before you go outside.

Be sure and use an SPF that will protect your scar from sun damage. An SPF number means the sun protection factor and an SPF of 30 or higher is recommended for the best results.

Healing the Emotional and Physical Pain from Scars

Scars: Physical and Emotional PainScars on the body can be caused by a number of factors and they can result in emotional pain for a longer length of time than the actual physical pain and discomfort from the scars.

Long term emotional distress can result from the memory of how the scar occurred as well as unhappiness from the scar being seen by others on a daily basis.

Many people with visible scars feel that they are perceived in a different manner by the general public and often worry that their appearance is judged negatively by others. One other feeling that often occurs when people have a visible scar is that they feel less attractive than those around them on a daily basis.

Psychological effects of scars are especially apparent on individuals with scars visible to others. Many people suffering from scars are known to have low self-esteem and embarrassment around others. This is especially true when the scars are visible on areas such as the face, arms and neck.

There are a number of ways that people attempt to hide their scars including covering them with long hair and clothing. They also normally stay away from activities that require them to show the areas of the body where the scars are visible. In general, women are more self-conscious about their scars and they often suffer from feelings of embarrassment, anxiety and sadness. It should be noted that scars resulting from accidents generally cause women more anxiety than scars resulting from caesarean sections and other child birth methods.

One way to reduce any negative feelings that result from scars is to reduce the amount of scarring visible on the body. Scar reduction surgery can be used to make new scar lines that are straighter and less noticeable. Scar removal products, such as scar creams, can also be used if the scar is relatively new or fresh on the body. These products help reduce the amount of scarring on the skin. As the scar becomes less noticeable, and the skin heals thanks to the scar treatment, its physical and emotional reminders will become less prominent as time passes.

While the memories of how the scar was created and caused any disfigurement of the skin might never completely go away for a person, the physical effects will lessen and become less prominent. This allows the patient to overcome feelings of embarrassment as well as feel less anxiety, depression, sadness and even post-traumatic stress disorder.

-MA

Removing Surgery Scars on the Breasts

Scarring after breast surgery.Patients who had surgery to increase their breast size, reduce their breast size or have undergone a mastectomy will normally see some scarring from the procedure. With most breast augmentation techniques, the scars may not be easily seen due to the fact that they are hidden beneath the bikini line.

Breast surgery incisions are usually made around the nipple, in the armpit or within the inframammary fold. The inframammary fold, or the natural fold below the breast, is the most popular technique as it provides many benefits. However, even incisions made in this region will divulge a scar when lying down. Many prospective patients are not necessarily concerned with the procedure itself but are more worried about the appearance of scars afterward.

Since each person heals differently, how well the skin heals is an important factor for the final appearance and severity of the scar. Even so, there are some methods which can be used to improve or remove scars on the breast.

Silicone gel treatments

Scarring on the breast tissue can be treated with silicone gel treatments. Simply paint the gel mixture onto the scar and leave it on. Some brands of silicone gel treatments are Scar Fade and ScarGuard. Talk to your doctor about what type of gel treatment he or she recommends.

Allium cepa

Scars need hydration to heal and patients can hydrate the scars using an ointment which contains Allium cepa. Allium cepa is extracted from onions and reduces the inflammation and redness of scars. Mederma is one brand of ointment which contains these scar reducing properties.

Rosehip oil

Apply rosehip oil every night before bed by massaging the oil into the scar site. After applying the oil, wear loose clothing to allow the oil to penetrate the skin. Continue this method for 2 to 3 months in order to fade the scar drastically.

SPF

Although scarring from breast surgery is generally covered by a bikini, any visible scarring such as the armpit should be treated with SPF sunscreen whenever going out in the sun. The sun can play a negative role in how noticeable your scars will appear. In addition, the sun can darken a scar long after it heals and this is especially true in people who already have a darker skin tone.

Laser Therapy

At times, scars from breast surgery can heal poorly and undergoing concentrated heat via laser therapy can remove prominent scars. In extreme cases, an additional surgery to excise the scar might be required. Be sure to learn about all the risks and benefits of these procedures beforehand.

Making the decision to have breast augmentation can be an easy one for some people and difficult for others. Patients should talk to their doctor about any concerns and medical issues and also follow all recommended instructions and restrictions. A well informed patient who follows instructions can be the key to a successful breast augmentation procedure as well as any scars healing nicely and being nearly undetectable.

-SP

Natural Ways to Get Rid Of Scar Tissue

Scar Tissue RemediesScar tissue is a beauty concern for many people. When the natural skin has been damaged beyond its first layer, scar tissue is the tissue which replaces it. Scar tissue is the same tissue as healthy skin even though it looks different. This is because the fibers are arranged differently within the tissue.

Scars can form for a variety of reasons including cuts, scrapes, acne, minor burns, bites, surgery or fungal infections. Anyone is prone to getting a scar at one time or another. The important thing to remember is that scars will eventually fade. The extent to which they fade depends on genetics.

However, there are some natural ways to get rid of, or lighten, scar tissue. Do you know what to use and how to use it?

Coconut Oil

Contains fatty acids that act as an antioxidant. This oil can prevent and reverse radical damage. It can also stimulate collagen production while softening the skin to speed the healing process.
• Warm 1 teaspoon of extra-virgin coconut oil in the microwave.
• Gently massage the warm oil in a circular motion on the affected area until it is absorbed into the skin.
• Repeat several times on a daily basis until the desired results are achieved.

Aloe Vera

Well known for regenerating skin tissue. It can also help to reduce the size and appearance of scars.
• Peel the outer green leaf off the plant.
• Apply the gel-looking substance, from the plant, and massage for several minutes.
• Leave it to dry on the skin and then rinse with warm water.
• Apply several times a day for 1 to 2 months.

Vitamin E

Has extraordinary antioxidant properties and can also stimulate collagen as well as moisturize the skin while healing scars.
• Extract the liquid from a Vitamin E capsule or use Vitamin E cream.
• Gently massage in a circular motion for about 10 minutes or until completely absorbed.
• Repeat 2-3 times a day.
• Also, incorporate foods high in Vitamin E into your diet. Foods such as hazelnuts, safflower oil, almonds and peanut butter are all high in Vitamin E.

Lemon Juice

Works as a natural bleaching agent due to its alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) and can fade scars. AHA is known to remove dead skin cells while regenerating and repairing damaged skin. Note: When using this technique, be sure to use sunscreen on the treated area whenever going out into the sun. Lemon juice will make that area sensitive to light.
• Extract fresh lemon juice from a lemon and apply it to the scar.
• Allow the juice to dry on the skin for approximately 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly and pat dry.
• Apply some moisturizer.
• Repeat twice daily for several weeks

Apple Cider Vinegar

Has various exceptional properties including being an astringent and a natural disinfectant. It can exfoliate the skin and also remove dead skin cells.
• Dip a cotton ball into the apple cider vinegar and apply it to the scar.
• Leave it on the scar for 10-15 minutes before washing it off.
• Apply moisturizer.
• Repeat this process a few times a day for a few weeks.

Lavender Oil

Can rejuvenate the skin cells. lavender oil helps to increase the cell turnover rate which will prevent the scars from becoming permanent.
• Apply a few drops of lavender essential oil to the scar.
• Gently massage the scar in a circular motion for approximately 10-15 minutes.
• You can also mix equal parts of the lavender oil and olive oil and then apply this mixture to the scar and massage for a few minutes.
• Repeat either method twice daily for several weeks.

-SP/MA

How to Care for a Sore Surgical Scar

ScarScarring is a common concern for patients who undergo surgery. No matter how you care for your surgical wound, it can still end up with some form of scarring. It doesn’t matter if the surgery is minor or major nor if the incision is deep or shallow. Add to that the fact that some patients are more prone to scarring than others and that some body parts develop scars worse than other parts. Some scars may even continue to grow long after the healing process is complete.

In a world where smooth skin is one of the measures of physical beauty, having an unsightly scar can be truly distressing especially on areas where they can easily be seen. Fortunately, taking care of surgical scars is not difficult at all thanks to these tips on how to take care of them.

Tip #1

Protection from sun exposure, particularly during the first year after surgery, is extremely important to prevent scars from getting worse. UV rays from the sun cause scars to darken and get thicker which makes them even more obvious. To prevent this from happening, dermatologists recommend using sun protection products that contain titanium dioxide or zinc. These agents block the effects of UV rays of the skin. Find products with SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. Tanning beds must also be avoided as they practically produce the same UV rays as the sun.

Tip #2

Keep the scar hydrated by applying moisturizing creams or gels. Don’t let it dry out. Gently massage the moisturizer on the scar to stimulate blood flow in the area. Use a hypoallergenic product and find ones that contain vitamin E and shea butter. Vitamin E is an antioxidant which also promotes faster healing while shea butter is natural oil that has been effectively used as a skin softener and moisturizer for hundreds of years. While shea butter is incorporated in many skin products, dermatologists recommend using the pure form and rubbing it directly on the scar for a much faster effect.

Tip #3

Aside from commercial moisturizers, there are also some home remedies that you can employ to keep your scars hydrated. These include raw honey, St. Johns Wort and aloe vera. Raw honey is one of the most frequently used traditional home remedies for many skin-related concerns including scars. It contains enzymes which act as an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory healing agent. Honey can be applied directly on the skin.

St. Johns Wort is a powerful antidepressant which also produces effective healing results on the skin. It induces collagen formation and facilitates faster and healthier wound healing. According to studies, patients who have used St. Johns Wort on their surgical wounds experienced faster healing, less discomfort and flatter and less discolored scars.

Lastly, aloe vera is another herbal remedy widely popular for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. Its ability to penetrate deep layers of the skin promotes faster repair of damaged cells and increased amount of collagen production. When applied on scars, aloe vera extract significantly reduces the redness and swelling of scars.

Tip #4

Putting silicone gel sheets on the scar may help it fade away over time. These sheets are particularly useful for keeping scars flat. Some companies that produce silicone sheets also claim that these sheets can combat redness, swelling and itching of both new and old scars. Silicone gel sheets are available at drugstores and you can also buy them from a dermatologist. This product produces noticeable improvements after three months of regular use.

Tip #5

If you are a smoker, it is strongly advised that you stop the habit immediately. Smoking, or more specifically the nicotine in cigarettes and tobacco, causes blood vessels to narrow. This leads to decreased delivery of blood to the site of the scar. Blood contains oxygen which speeds up healing. If there isn’t enough oxygen, healing is compromised and slowed down. A lack of oxygen may lead to a breakdown of tissues that can cause the creation of an open wound that will take weeks, or even months, to completely heal.

While surgical scars are a not-so-attractive reminder of the surgery that you underwent, it is the body’s way of protecting us from damage. While scars tend to fade away over time without any intervention, the tips given above will help speed up healing and minimize the appearance of the scar a bit faster. The tips discussed in this article are a rough guide and should not replace any advice given by your surgeon. Also, there are other tips and techniques out there that will help you. The overall effectiveness of these techniques is still largely dependent on the individual’s physiology and his or her efforts in following the advice of their doctor.

Types of Scars

Scars tend to appear on the skin during the healing process of an injury or cut of some sort. While scars are part of the healing process, there are different types of scars that vary in their appearance on the skin.

Flat and Pale Scars

The scars that look flat and pale are the most common type of scars found on the body. They form as a natural part of the healing process of the body. The scars are not always flat and pale when they first form. In fact, there is a good chance that they might be dark, raised or red after the wound is first healed. However, they will become pale and flat as time passes.

The change from red and raised to flat and pale can take up to two years to complete. Even after the healing process is complete, there will always be some evidence of the original wound. Overall, this type of scar is not usually painful but it can be itchy as well as unsightly.

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars are characterized by being raised above the skin as well as their size. They can also often be itchy, painful, tender and burning. This type of scar occurs when too much collagen is produced at the wound site and the scar keeps growing even after the actual wound has healed. It is basically an overgrowth of tissue. Overall, a new keloid scar can be either purple or red but it will become pale as time passes. They are most likely to form on the upper back, the upper arms and shoulders or around the sternum.

Hypertrophic Scars

Much like keloid scars, hypertrophic scars are also a result of too much collagen production in a wound that is healing. However, they do not extend any further than the boundaries of the original wound which is a typical feature of keloid scars. A hypertrophic scar is characterized by being red and raised and can continue to become thicker for up to six months.

Hypertrophic scars also become pale and flat as time passes. These scars can restrict some movements due to the scar tissue not being as flexible as the original skin. While they eventually become flat and pale, the overall redness can persist for a number of years.

Pitted/Sunken Scars

Also known as “Ice Pick” scars, these are the result of conditions such as chickenpox or acne can have an appearance that is best described as pitted or sunken. It’s not just skin conditions that can cause scars with this appearance. Injuries which include the loss of any underlying fat have been known to cause this type of scar.

Pitted scars don’t normally fade away as time passes. However, there are a number of treatments that can be used to try and reverse or mask the scars. Some of these treatments include topical creams to boost collagen, dermabrasion to sand away the top layers of the skin with a brush in order to allow new cells to develop and laser resurfacing which can get rid of the damaged layer of skin so new cells can develop where the damaged skin was located.