For many people, scars are reminders of an accident, injury, or even disease. Those reminders can be painful and stir up underlying trauma.
Some feel embarrassed or ashamed, but for others, the psychological effects are much deeper.
The impact of scars can diminish your mental health.
In this post, we’ll answer the most common questions about scars.
How do scars form?
When the skin is cut or damaged, the body sends a signal that there has been an injury, and it needs to produce new collagen fibers to seal up the broken skin.
These fibers form to mend the damage, resulting in a scar. The new scar tissue will have a different texture and quality than the surrounding tissue.
There are keloid, hypertrophic, contractures and pitted or sunken scars. Read more about each type here.
A scar matures over time becoming less visible and more set in its final appearance. This can take between 6 months and 2 years, depending on skin type, age, and location of the scar.
A lot of people are not aware that scars mature over time. It’s important to know when you should start treating a scar so that it doesn’t become too noticeable or permanent.
The best time to treat damaged skin is early on. As soon as the wound starts to form a scab if possible.
A key to not ending up with a permanent mark is to not let the wound site dry out. This can lead to “pulling” on the surrounding skin which can cause more damage. A larger scar site and possible infection of the wound can be the result.
Whatever scar treatment you choose, start as early as possible. Consult with your physician if your injury or accident required medical attention.
How long will it take for a scar to fade?
This is very difficult to predict, there are many factors that determine how long it takes to heal and fade.
Some factors include the type of surgery, the level of trauma sustained during surgery, smoking habits, and skin type.
The healing process also depends on your immune system, the body’s ability to produce collagen, and whether you treat the wound or let it heal by itself.
If you’re wondering how to get rid of scars, the answer lies in how (and how quickly) you treat them.
Regardless of what type of scar you have and the initial cause, how you care for your scar will influence how it looks long-term.
There are many different scar treatments available today. These can vary in price, effectiveness, and availability. Here are a few of the most common options.
Background Low-fluence (low irradiation energy density) pulsed-dye lasers (PDLs) have been used for atrophic acne scarring, and anecdotal experience suggests that long-term improvements in inflammatory acne can be seen after one PDL treatment.
Most patients usually need between 1 and 3 treatments.
Laser treatment for scars is not usually covered by insurance. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average out-of-pocket cost for laser skin resurfacing is $1100 to $2,000.
Removes the outer layer of skin and eliminates the damaged skin cells at the surface level. Your doctor may use a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser for deeper scars, or an erbium laser for surface scars.
Scars may need up to 6 treatments depending on the severity of the scar.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons: In 2019, the average cost of this procedure was $1200 to $2,000.
A non-ablative treatment option that uses an intense but gentle beam of light to treat scars without damaging surrounding tissue.
You’ll need to be seen one to three times a week for weeks or even months.
In general, expect $25 to $200 per treatment.
Works by penetrating the top layer of skin with tiny needles which increases collagen production at the wound site. The excess collagen acts as a ‘filler’, smoothing out the skin around the scars and improving overall appearance.
You will need at least 3 to 4 sessions if you have moderate scars and as many as eight sessions if the scars are severe. Microneedling done by a dermatologist is considered a cosmetic procedure, so it is not covered by insurance.
Microneedling may cost anywhere from $200 to $700 per session.
Typically used for keloid scars. A steroid is injected directly into the scar. This can help soften and then shrink hard scars. Keloids and hypertrophic scars often soften after this treatment.
After several injections with cortisone, the keloid usually becomes less noticeable and flattens in three to six months’ time. Hypertrophic scars often respond completely, but keloids are notoriously difficult to treat, with recurrences commonly seen.
Typically costs around $200 per treatment.
An inexpensive, At-Home Option
Unfortunately, most of these options are painful, expensive and require many visits.
Yet, there is an inexpensive and effective self-treatment option that will help speed up your healing and reduce scars.
With very little effort!
This is where scar creams come in.
Dr. Dendy Engelman is a board-certified, award-winning, New York City dermatologist. Dr. Jaliman, known as one of the top dermatologists in the nation, is an expert in the field of cosmetic dermatology as well as medical dermatology.
Here are some expert tips to help minimize your scars
1. Act Early After an Injury
It isn’t always possible to tell when an injury or surgery will lead to scarring after it has healed. That said, the earlier you act, the less likely you’ll be to experience severe scarring.
Dr. Engelman’s biggest piece of advice when using scar creams is to start using them as soon as a scar forms, because “it’s easier to treat scars when they are fresh.” Dr. Jaliman agreed, adding, “It all depends on the severity and depth of the scar. Taking proper care of your trauma initially is crucial because it will ultimately dictate how it heals.”
Dermatologists recommend that you keep the wound
- Clean with mild soap and water
- Hydrated with a cream, lotion, or balm
- Covered with an adhesive bandage to keep bacteria out and moisture in
Change the bandage and clean the wound at least once a day and protect it from direct sunlight. Following these steps will protect the wound from infection. It will also aid in the body’s natural healing process, thereby minimizing scar tissue.
2. Stay Cautious in the Sun
Some people think that getting some color from the sun will help their scars blend in, but any sun exposure can actually cause further discoloration. Scar tissue is more susceptible to sun damage so it is very important to protect your scar from the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
The best way to do this is by covering the scar completely for at least the first year! Use a flesh-colored bandage to blend in and don’t worry about having a funny tan line. It’s much more temporary than a darker scar. If you do venture out into the sun, use sunblock. After the first year, apply an SPF of at least 30 and wear protective clothing when you will be in the sun for prolonged periods.
3. Apply Topical Treatments
While existing scars cannot always be erased without a trace, you can speed up the fading process by regularly applying certain topical creams, lotions, and gels. Some effective ingredients in these scar treatments include coconut oil, rosehips, Gotu Kola, Vitamin E, and other hydrating materials. If your scar is painful or itches, consider a scar cream with CBD. Keeping your scar hydrated is very important to the healing process.
To Sum it all up
Though our physical scars can be treated, the emotional baggage they leave us with can sometimes linger on.
As your scars heal, the psychological implications of having them will also begin to fade. For some, this can take months, and for others, longer.
If you are dealing with the lingering mental effects of your scars try to focus on confidence-building exercises, and affirmations. And always practice self-acceptance.
Are your scars hampering your self-esteem? Learn more about our scar-reducing solution for your skin.