Treatment for Noticeable Scars
Scars are the visible reminders of a wound from an injury or surgery. Many scars fade over time, but may never completely disappear. They may look red, raised, indented or otherwise disfiguring. Depending on the location and size of their scarring, an individual may feel supremely self-conscious of their appearance. Dr. Mark H. Schwartz offers several scar revision treatments, ranging in severity, to minimize the appearance of bothersome scars as much as possible.
Types of Scars
Dr. Schwartz treats three primary types of scars:
Hypertrophic scars – raised, red scars that develop directly at the site of the wound. The thick clusters of scar tissue are filled with excessive amounts of collagen. Hypertrophic scars may be darker or lighter in color than the surrounding tissue. They may be itchy or slightly painful, but they are considered harmless. They do not grow beyond the boundaries of the initial wound.
Keloid scars – larger than hypertrophic scars. They may be raised, pink or red and irregularly shaped. Keloid scars may also be painful, itchy or puckered. They can appear anywhere on the body (most commonly where there is little underlying fatty tissue, like the face, neck, ears, chest or shoulders). They have a high rate of recurrence.
Contractures – the most severe scars. They usually occur after a significant amount of tissue loss (e.g., a burn injury) or from wounds on a joint. Contractures may restrict movement because of the tissue in the area pulling together during the wound healing process.
Scar revision treatment options range in intensity. The goal of any scar revision treatment is to make the skin look as smooth and uniform as possible. Dr. Schwartz recommends treatment based on the appearance and location of a specific patient’s scar. Options include the following:
Chemical peel gently removes the top layer of skin to lessen a scar’s prominence. A specially formulated chemical solution is applied to the surface of the skin to slough off the outermost skin cells. Fresh, healthy skin cells are revealed. This process corrects minor irregularities on the skin’s surface for a smoother result.
Skin bleaching with hydroquinone is another topical treatment option to reduce uneven pigmentation. Medication is applied topically to the skin to lighten hyperpigmentation.
Laser energy can also be used for resurfacing purposes. Laser skin treatment gently removes the damaged outer layer of skin and reveals fresh, new skin underneath. The laser energy also stimulates the body’s production of collagen for further gradual improvements. The Sciton BBL, Halo and ProFractional lasers offer unparalleled precision, allowing Dr. Schwartz to target only damaged tissue and leave surrounding healthy tissue intact. Click here for more information on laser treatment of scars.
Steroid injections are an invasive way to improve the appearance of a scar, and typically the first line of defense in minor scars. In many cases, Dr. Schwartz uses Kenalog, which shrinks the scar and reduces redness and itching. Depending on the size of the scar, multiple injections may be needed to achieve the desired results. If multiple injections are necessary, Dr. Schwartz spaces injections out every four to six weeks.
Some scars, including facial scars and scars with contractures, need to be completely excised. Dr. Schwartz makes an incision and surgically removes the scar and surrounding damaged tissue. Then, he closes the incision with small sutures to leave a thinner, less noticeable scar. He may use a skin flap or skin graft to restore normal function and appearance to areas with larger scars. Dr. Schwartz can incorporate a Z-plasty, which is an advanced wound closure technique that improves the functional and cosmetic appearance of a scar.
Recovering from Scar Revision
Side effects and comfort levels vary after scar revision, depending on the specific technique used. Minor swelling, bruising and redness are common. Dr. Schwartz provides comprehensive instructions for caring for the treatment area, including medications to take and wound care. Initially, patients must avoid activities that could place stress on the treated area while it heals. Dr. Schwartz follows up with the patient periodically to ensure recovery progress.
Moles are small growths of the pigment cells in your skin. These growths can be raised or flat, dark or light, or in some cases will look like same color as the surrounding skin. A mole may be unchanged throughout your life, or in areas that have substantial sun exposure, new moles may develop over time. Moles that appear on the face and body can be particularly unattractive and distracting.
At his practice in New York City, Dr. Schwartz will examine each mole you are interested in having removed. With a local anesthetic, the moles can be surgically excised and the tissue is sent to a pathologist for analysis. Every precaution is taken to assure that the moles heal with as little visible scarring as possible, by placing the scars within the direction of natural skin lines. Also, tiny sutures are used to repair the excision. Occasionally, a raised mole can be shaved to make it flat. While this technique does not require sutures, there is a good chance the mole will return at a later date. Regardless of technique, excised moles are sent to the pathologist for analysis.
The cosmetic advantage of mole removal is obvious–your appearance will improve once a disfiguring mole is removed, giving you clearer skin and improved self-esteem. Mole removal also offers an important health benefit. Removal of a suspicious mole and examination by a pathologist is the best way to detect skin cancer. In general, the main risk to mole removal is the chance of a thin scar, which will likely fade with time. Most patients consider this a small trade-off for removing an unsightly or growing mole.
Learn More about Scar Revision and Mole Removal Treatment Options
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Mark H. Schwartz or to find out more about scar revision and mole removal treatment options.