6 Ways to Improve the Appearance of Scars
Sometimes scars are inevitable. Whether a result of surgery (elective or emergency), an injury or even a positive experience like having a baby (via Cesarean section), raised, depressed or discolored scars can serve as an unwanted reminder of events past. New York City board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Mark H. Schwartz has a wide variety of ways to proactively minimize scarring, and improve the texture and color of existing scars.
Protecting “fresh” scars from the sun with either a broad-spectrum sunscreen or a Band-Aid is equally as important as applying any ointments recommended by your doctor after surgery or an injury. UV rays can cause scars to permanently darken, and this is quite difficult to correct.
- Silicone Gel or Silicone Sheet
Dr. Schwartz recommends the early use of BioCorneum Silicone Gel (Sientra) on scars for approximately two to three months. This gel has been shown to improve the appearance of scars when used daily. It has the added advantage of containing an SPF 30 sunblock. Alternatively, silicone sheets can be used over scars which may also help the final scar appearance.
Areas with a high degree of movement are more prone to scarring, whether caused by an injury or surgical incision, especially on the face. The same injectable used to prevent the muscle contractions that lead to wrinkles can help minimize the formation of scars through the same action. When injected during the healing process, Botox relaxes the muscles surrounding the wound, in turn reducing tension during the first few months — which is a crucial time in scar development. And when other precautions such as using sunscreen are taken, wounds treated with Botox are generally narrower and less visible (once healing is complete).
- Steroid Injections
When it is too late to take preventative measures, Dr. Schwartz may use diluted intralesional steroid injections to improve the appearance of scars that may be thickened or raised. Multiple injections spaced every four to six weeks may be necessary to achieve the desired improvement.
- Laser Treatments
Dr. Schwartz can use a variety of laser treatments to improve the appearance of scars; and the best option depends on the nature of the scar itself. Thickened, raised scars can be improved with ProFractional resurfacing, while IPL/BBL is effective for darkened or reddish scars. A combination of laser treatments that target different layers of the skin as well as the pigment that causes discoloration often provides the optimal level of improvement.
- Surgical Excision
When scarring is not effectively improved by any of the above measures, Dr. Schwartz may recommend surgical excision, which involves removing the actual scar and damaged surrounding tissue. He will then close the new incision with fine sutures to leave a less noticeable scar. Complex scars may require an advanced wound-closing technique called Z-plasty.
All scars are unique, which is why Dr. Schwartz takes an individualized approach to minimizing the formation and improving the appearance of each one. With so many tools that are effective for wounds both old and new, there is no need to live with disfiguring scars.
Call 212.737.9090 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mark H. Schwartz to learn more about scar treatment options.