Scarring is the mark that is left on the skin after healing of a wound or an injury to the surface of the skin. Scars are very common and a natural part of the healing process. Most people have at least one.
Scar tissue forms when your body heals itself. When the surface of skin is broken, the body produces additional collagen helping to heal and strengthen the wounded area. This boost in collagen production can last 3 months or more and the blood supply also increases. This is why wounds appear at first to become raised, lumpy and red. With time,collagen production and blood supply return to normal levels, so that the scar becomes paler, smoother and softer.
Scars usually fade with time, although this can take 2 years of even more. They never completely disappear.
Doctors and surgeons classify scars into 4 main types as follows:
hypertrophic scars – red, raised scars
pitted scars – (also called atrophic or ‘ice-pick’) – indented appearance
contracture scars – caused by the skin shrinking, e.g. after burn
keloid scars – a raised, lumpy scar with excess scar tissue
How your scar looks depends on a number of factors, such as the size of wound, where it is, healing time, your age, tendency to scar and lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol and sun exposure.
When the skin is wounded, you can encourage it to heal well by keeping the wound clean. It can be covered with vaseline or a plaster to protect it if necessary. Using silicone sheets or gel can help healing and reduce redness. Moisturisation with massage help the tissue to heal evenly. Finally, avoid the temptation to pick or scratch at the wound, which can aggravate it and cause it to reopen, causing greater damage.
The appearance of severe scarring can be a problem for some patients. Although scars will not completely go away, the appearance can in many cases be improved using the latest skincare technology and products.
Depending on the nature of scarring, the following may be considered: