Scar removal is a complicated process. There are a lot of factors involved and all scars will heal differently. You skin color, skin type, family history, age and the type of scar will affect how successful removal will be. It will take at least a few months to start seeing results, so don’t expect miracles right away. It is best to treat scars as early as possible, but you can improve the appearance of many old scars as well.
In order to choose a scar treatment, you need to know what type of scar you are dealing with. Scars form when there is injury to the dermis. The skin reacts by creating more collagen in that area, causing a scar. With normal scarring, the mark will usually be thinner than the original wound, with a slightly tougher consistency than the surrounding skin. Discoloration is normal for the first year or more, but eventually becomes less noticeable over time. Sometimes, the skin starts producing more collagen than normal and will form a hypertrophic scar or a keloid scar. Hypertrophic scars are typically as large as the original wound, are darker than the surrounding skin, and are thick and raised. These scars also become less noticeable as they get older. Keloid scars go beyond the borders of the original wound. They are usually darker than normal skin and are often red or brown. Keloids have a rubbery texture and can be raised significantly off the surface of the skin. Pain and itchness is often associated with keloids, and this type of scarring does not improve over time.
Normal scars and hypertrophic scars respond well to at home scar removal treatments. Only professionals should attempt keloid scar removal. Trying to treat your keloids at home will make them worse. If you think you have a keloid, get it evaluated by a dermatologist before attempting any at home treatments. If you have had keloids in the past, you are much more prone to developing them. Trying to remove a normal or hypertrophic scar could cause another keloid to form, so you should seek the services of a good dermatologist for scar removal.
If you have a wound that you think will scar, you should try to prevent scarring rather than attempt to get rid of scars in the future. Treat the wound with an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin. This will help it heal faster and will often reduce the size and severity of the eventual scar. After the wound has healed and no longer has a scab, treat the red mark with a silicone sheet. This is one of the best ways to prevent a scar from becoming hypertrophic and heal normally.
Scar removal at home is best achieved by combining products and techniques that exfoliate and rejuvenate. Strong exfoliation removes damaged skin and exposes newer skin that has a smoother texture. Treating this new skin with skin care actives that rejuvenate skin cells will cause the scar to get smaller and smaller. Doing this over and over again will make the scar much less noticeable and for some people, remove it completely. This process works best for normal scars, but it is effective for hypertrophic scar removal as well. It will also work better on younger skin than on older skin, and on newer scars. You need to wait until the scar has healed completely and the skin isn’t thin.
The type of exfoliation you use should be strong enough to peel the skin. One of the most convenient methods is to use chemical peels such as a glycolic acid peel. The strength of the peel and number of applications you’ll need will depend on the severity of the scar and the area of the body. Body skin is thicker than facial skin and will need stronger exfoliation. Men have thicker skin than women and will need stronger products and more applications. Alpha hydroxy acids like lactic and glycolic acid can irritate and burn your skin, making the problem worse. To avoid complications start off using mild products in the beginning and work your way up to the stronger peels. Use a gentle exfoliator like a glycolic acid lotion with a 10% concentration for a few weeks before using a mild glycolic acid peel. 15% – 20% is a good range to start out with for your first few peels. Gradually work your way to using peels in the 30% to 50% range. Tough scars on thick body skin may need to use the strongest peels available, which are typically around 70%.
Normal chemical peel side effects include stinging and redness, followed by peeling and flaking skin. Severe side effects include burning and scabbing, which can result in further scarring. It is very important to give your skin time to adjust to the acidity of the peels by gradually increasing the strength. Do not pick at the flaking skin, this can lead to scabbing and scarring. Let it slough off naturally. Products that contain alpha hydroxy acids will make your skin photosensitive, meaning it will burn easier, and is also more prone to developing discoloration due to sun damage. Use sun block daily for at least two to three weeks after every peel. Let your skin completely heal before repeating the peel, which will usually take between 2 to 6 weeks, depending on the strength of the peel and your skin type. It will take several months to a year to get complete results, but you will see improvement along the way.
Other methods of exfoliation are also effective for scar removal. Microdermabrasion treatments are good for smaller, less severe scars on the body, and for acne scars. Mechanical exfoliation like microdermabrasion is milder than chemical peels. It doesn’t have as many side effects as chemical peels, but will also not be as effective on thicker, older scars. Dermabrasion is a strong form of microdermabrasion done by skin care professionals. This is a more invasive process, but is better at removing skin and causing peeling, and can be a good choice for people who cannot use hydroxy acids.
Another good scar remover is skin needling. This process is complex and has only recently become available for home use. A skin roller or needle roller is a tool that breaks up scar tissue by puncturing it hundreds of times with extremely tiny needles. This breaks up irregularities in the skin matrix, and causes your skin to produce more collagen and elastin. This technique can have serious negative side effects if done improperly, including infection. You can have this done in office by a professional, or you can order a roller for home use. Needling will typically form a scab, which you must let heal and fall off on it’s own before repeating the process. It will take several treatments to see results, but it is very effective, especially as an acne scar removal treatment. Remember; never, ever try to remove keloid scars yourself.
Removing damaged skin and breaking up scar tissue is just one part of the process. You need to treat the newly exposed skin with products that contain ingredients that help the skin heal faster and more regular. Scar removal creams are sometimes effective, but other skin care products may work better when combined with exfoliation. Facial skin care products often contain good concentrations of active ingredients that repair the skin matrix and stimulate collagen production. Don’t discount products designed to get rid of wrinkles; they are often very effective for scar removal as well.
The best ingredients for skin regeneration are Vitamin C, retinoids, and certain peptides. Vitamin C skin care products are good at boosting collagen production and eliminating discoloration. Most products contain Vitamin C as L-ascorbic acid, which is very acidic and potentially irritating ingredient. These products are most effective at concentrations of 15%-20%. This strength is too acidic to be applied to freshly peeled skin, so wait a few days to a week after a peel before applying it. Lower concentrations are typically used in a Vitamin C lotion or cream and can be helpful to heal freshly exposed skin. Retinoids like retinol or prescription retinoic acid have an exfoliating effect, so they should also not be used for several days after a peel. Retinoids are popular skin rejuvenators and should be used in the evening to be the most effective. Once the skin has had some time to recover, applying these products will help the skin heal smoother and make the scar smaller. Using these ingredients too soon after a peel can lead to over exfoliation, so be sure to use caution. The stronger your exfoliation treatment was, the more time you’ll need to give your skin time to recover. As with alpha hydroxy acids, don’t start off using the strongest product you can find. Start out with lower strengths and work your way up gradually.
After using a scar removal peel, you’ll probably need to soothe and moisturize your skin. Using natural ingredients like oatmeal, aloe, lavender, comfrey, and chamomile are very calming for irritated skin. Try to use a natural moisturizer that is full of botanical ingredients for the first few days after a peel. One of the best active ingredients to use post peel is a certain peptide called the GHK-Cu copper peptide. Many products containing this peptide are designed for use immediately after a peel. This ingredient helps the skin heal much faster and remodels the skin matrix. Don’t use this ingredient in the same session as Vitamin C products because the two actives interact and become less effective.
If you decide to visit a skin care professional, you’ll have more options for scar removal. They have access to more advanced methods of scar reduction that can only be done in office. Excision is a scar removal surgery where the scar is cut out of the skin and the wound is sewn together in a clean line. The new wound can be treated with scar prevention techniques and will be easier to treat down the road because it is smaller. You can also try cryotherapy, where the scar is frozen off. Laser ablation uses heat to break up scar tissue. Localized streroid injections can correct over production of collagen found in hypertrophic scars and keloids. Dermatologists and plastic surgeons also offer chemical peels, skin needling, and dermabrasion treatments for scar removal. If you have a keloid scar, visit a professional to discuss your options.
Scars are not always permanent and there are many things you do try to make them look better. Remember that most scars will improve over time on their own, so don’t despair if you have a fresh scar than is making your self-conscious. Treating scars at home is an option for most people unless you are dealing with keloids. Scar removal will take at least several months of treatments, but virtually every scar can be improved and many can be removed entirely.