All of our scars tell a story, but sometimes you just want to forget the past and move on. Scars are the result of injury to the skin and while you can never truly remove them, there definitely are ways to lessen their appearance.
What Is a Scar?
When your skin is damaged by cutting, infection, scraping or burning it seals the wound with an overproduction of collagen. The collagen produced doesn’t form in the same way as normal skin so it looks whiter and shiny and won’t contain the pores, hairs and sweat glands. The edges of the scar may also be discoloured resulting in the scar sticking out even more.
It can take up to 2 years for a scar to fade on their own. To help them along you need to use products that reduce inflammation and pigmentation.
You need to look for products marked as anti-inflammatory. These will usually contain ingredients such as rosehip, colloidal oat or azelaic acid that calm the skin reducing puffiness
There are two ways to fade hyperpigmented skin. Stop the melanin production that causes the pigmentation or remove the top layer of skin that contains the pigment. For this our two favourite ingredients are vitamin C and A. Vitamin C inhibits the enzymes that produce melanin (the stuff that makes our skin dark) and vitamin A causes rapid cell turnover meaning you lose the pigmented skin quicker. You might also consider exfoliation with Alpha Hydroxy Acids such as Glycolic or Lactic.
Types Of Scar and How To Deal With Them
There are several types of scar depending on how you received the wound.
Sunken Scars (Atrophic)
Sunken scars are usually caused by infections such as chicken pox of acne. Because these infections go deep into the skin you may lose fat or muscle tone resulting in a pitted appearance.
There are several types of sunken scars and, depending on which one you suffer from, a different approach will be needed for treating them.
Ice Pick Scars
These are deep narrow scars typically caused by acne and found on the forehead or cheek. Because these scars are so deep only semi-surgical techniques will improve their appearance. Here is a list of procedures to try in order from least to most invasive.
Microneedling: Small needles puncture the skin stimulating collagen regrowth
Laser resurfacing: High power lasers take off the top of the skin and stimulate collagen regrowth
Dermabrasion/Microdermabrasion: The surface of your skin is mechanically removed by a blade or blasting with crystals. Dermabrasion is more full-on than microdermabrasion.
Punch Grafting/Incision: This involves cutting out the ice pick scar and either replacing it with skin from elsewhere or sowing the wound shut.
Rolling or Boxcar Scars
These types of scar are usually found on the cheeks where large groups of pox or acne have accumulated to produce a rolling uneven skin surface. Here’s a list of treatments for you to try.
Microneedling: Inserting needles into the scars stimulates collagen production raising the scars to make the skin surface more even.
Fillers: These can be permanent and temporary. They are inserted beneath the scar to raise it and give an even skin surface.
Laser Therapy: Lasers can reach deep into the skin stimulating collagen production evening out the skin surface.
Chemical Peel: This method peels away the top few layers of skin so that it can regrow afresh.
Subcision: In this procedure a needle is used to separate the top layers of skin from the rest of the epidermis. Collagen is then produced which fills the gap raising the sunken scars to produce even skin.
Raised Scars (Hypertrophic/Keloid)
These types of scar are usually caused by physical injury to the skin via cuts or burns. As part of the healing process collagen production goes into hyperdrive and produces more collagen than it needed to fill the wound causing a raised bump. Keloid scars are more often found on dark skin and are large raised lumps of tissue much larger than the initial cut.
To reduce the appearance of raised scars you have a few options.
Chemical Exfoliation: The user of AHAs such as Glycolic acids can lessen the appearance of mild scars.
Microneedling: This involves puncturing the scar with needles to stimulate more regular looking collagen production.
Dermabrasion: This can be done with a scalpel or by firing fine poder at the skin. It removes the top layer of skin of the scar promoting regrowth.
Chemical Peel: This is a procedure using high levels of acid to take off a few layers of skin forcing it to replenish itself.
Laser ablation: Burning away the top layers of skin on scar tissue with a laser can lessen its appearance and promote new skin regrowth.
As you can see there is a lot to think about when deciding how to deal with a scar. You first port of call should be a qualified dermatologist. They will be able to diagnose the type of scarring you have and the best procedures to use to get the result you want.