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Guide To Cosmetic Surgery - Scar Improvement
Scars are the body’s response to an injury or illness. They can form after an accident, illness or surgery and are the body’s way of repairing broken skin.
However, they can be a sensitive issue for many people. Some people see scars as an interesting part of a person’s character whereas others find them totally unacceptable.
Small scars may not cause too much of a problem but larger, thicker scars can cause embarrassment and distress for many people.
Most scars do fade over time but some can cause problems such as itching, pain, redness and a thickened raised appearance. Some can even restrict the movement of a joint.
There are three types of scars which are:
Keloid scars are thick, round, angry red scars which are more serious than the other two types. They tend to form in younger people and those with darker complexions. The risk with these is that they can spread beyond the confines of the scar itself.
A hypertrophic scar is a red, raised scar which appears above the skin but will not show any abnormal growth. These too form in younger people and those with dark skins. They are red, thick and raised and can be itchy or painful but they don’t spread beyond the boundaries of the scar.
Atrophic scars are small round scars which have a ‘pitted’ appearance and can form following chickenpox or acne.
This is affected by these factors:
Younger skin can ‘overheal’ which leads to thicker, raised scars such as keloids. Older skin tends to take longer to heal.
- Skin type
People with dark complexions such as those of an African or Asian descent are prone to abnormal scar formation.
- Poor wound healing or complications
If a wound becomes infected then this increases the risk of abnormal scarring.
- Location of scars
Areas of the body which are regularly used such as the legs, back, shoulders and arms are prone to scarring. These scars tend to be more visible and can spread much more easily than those in less active areas of the body.
Can cosmetic surgery help? The answer to that is yes. There are a range of treatments available which include steroid injections, Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) technology, z-plasty, scar revision surgery and silicone gel sheeting.
If you opt for surgery then skin grafting or the z-plasty procedure can help. Skin grafts involve the surgeon removing a section of skin from a ‘donor’ site of the body and grafting this onto the offending scar.
The z-plasty procedure involves, firstly, the removal of the scar (excised with a scalpel). And secondly, the surgeon will make a series of small incisions around the scar. Finally, he or she will
re-stitch the scar to form a ‘z’ shape.
This will hide the scar within the natural creases of the skin.
There is the option of using laser surgery, at a later date, to hide the scar even further.
Silicone gel sheeting
Silicone gel sheeting is a slim, adhesive backed sheet which can be attached to the skin. There are two types of sheeting – clear and fabric based.
The clear version is flexible and minimises the risk of abnormal scar formation. It is self-adhesive and can be washed and then reused.
The fabric version has one side lined with silicone which helps to reduce the risk of keloid and hypertrophic scars. This silicone side is used to stick to the skin.
The other side is lined with a soft, smooth material which enables this to be worn comfortably under clothing. This sheet can be washed and re-applied as and when necessary.
It is marketed under the trade name ‘Dermatix’.
Scar revision surgery
Scar revision surgery can be undertaken. This can involve the surgeon removing any excess scar tissue and then repositioning the scar so that it heals in a less noticeable manner.
It is important to bear in mind that no scar can be completely removed. Even though they can be removed they will always leave a slight trace. Many scars do fade over time to the point where they are hardly noticeable but they don’t disappear altogether.
And, there are a few risks attached to scar revision surgery. All surgery carries the risk of infection, bleeding, swelling and even a bad reaction to anaesthesia. These are a few things to take into account when considering surgery.