Almost everyone has at least one scar somewhere on their body, whether it’s from a broken window or a childhood bike accident. Some scars are well-hidden and make for great stories, but others can be bothersome, especially if they’re somewhere very noticeable. Scar revision is a surgical method for improving or reducing the appearance of your scars. It can sometimes help to restore function to the area, as well as correct skin changes or disfigurements. Many patients seek scar revision after an injury, wound, or previous surgical procedure. No matter the reason for your scar revision, there are many options available to get the job done.
All about Scar Revision
There are many different approaches to the revising of scar tissue, including both surgical and nonsurgical approaches. Regardless of the approach used to improve or reduce your scars’ appearance, you should be in good overall health and have realistic expectations for your treatment. You should have a specific scar or scars that you would like to see removed and have a full understanding of the amount of change that is possible. The best way to assess whether you are a good candidate for scar revision is through a consultation with a plastic surgeon who offers these treatments.
Laser Resurfacing for Scar Revision
One of the nonsurgical treatment options for scar revision is laser resurfacing. This technique involves the use of a laser to send quick pulses of light into the skin, where it becomes heat energy. This heat gradually destroys the dead, damaged layers of skin one at a time, while also encouraging the new skin to grow and replace the removed layers. When applied to a scar, the damaged layers are removed and the healthy skin underneath can erase the evidence of scar tissue.
Laser resurfacing is an ideal treatment option for superficial scars, such as those caused by acne, surgery, and facial injuries. It may not be effective for thicker scars that are still growing, on the other hand. With the help of your plastic surgeon, you can seek other scar revisions treatments if your scars aren’t right for this type of approach. Laser resurfacing is typically performed on the face but can be applied to other areas of the body, if that’s where your scar is located.
Dermabrasion for Scar Revision
A gentle, non surgical approach, dermabrasion can help to revise facial scars on the surface of the skin. During this treatment, a specially designed wire brush called a burr is used to remove the upper layers of the skin. New skin will grow to replace it over time. Ultimately, dermabrasion is a safe way to make subtle changes to the surface of your scars. It can soften and reduce irregularities present in the scar tissue, leaving behind a much smoother and less noticeable scar. Dermabrasion treatments can be repeated as needed to achieve the desired results slowly and safely, under the guidance of a licensed skincare professional.
Skin Grafting for Scar Revision
Quite different from the previous strategies discussed, skin grafting is a surgical solution for deeper scars. During this procedure, a thin layer of skin is removed from another part of the body and placed over the scarred area. The scar tissue is then hidden by the fresh, new tissue on top. Plastic surgeons can use this technique for smaller scars that run deep into the skin or when an injury won’t heal and scar properly. Adding the new tissue can encourage the growth of healthy new cells in this area.
Skin Flap Surgery for Scar Revision
This dramatic approach involves the transplant of a full, thick section of skin, fat, blood vessels, nerves, and muscle to be removed from a healthy area of the body to the injured or scarred portion. Obviously, this is a large-scale procedure that must be treated like a major surgery. Plastic surgeons may turn to this approach when large amounts of skin have been lost, a scar will not heal, or when function has been impaired by the injury. Discuss your options with a medical professional if you are seeking help for a significant scar like this.
Dr. Philip Schoenfeld, MD FACS is the founder and Medical Director of RENU in Chevy Chase, Maryland and Washington DC metropolitan area. Dr. Schoenfeld is board-certified in facial plastic and reconstructive surgery.