The Truth about Scars, Scar Products, & Scar Reduction
The Truth about Scars, Scar Products, & Scar Reduction:
Why do we at My Plastic Surgery Group carry among our skin care products PSP (Processed Skin Products by Neocutis) and TNS (Tissue Nutrient Serum by SkinMedica)? These high-tech-sounding products are exactly that: peptides prepared from fetal cell lines and consisting of growth factors, cytokines, collagen, and antioxidants to subdue scars and to retard skin aging. Fetal animals have shown amazing healing abilities with negligible scarring, and have inspired much research in scar control. Please ask to talk about these products if you are contemplating surgery or skin resurfacing.
Now, let’s talk also about the general treatment of scars…..
In plastic surgery it seems that often we have as our goal to augment or to reduce body parts. Certainly, scars are something that we wish to reduce or to avoid in all patients. We are not magicians, but we do keep some time-proven tools handy.
Scarring begins at the time of wound closure. “Inflammation” occurs first, and includes our body’s immune “clean-up” cells, also the growth of new blood vessels to ferry these and the protein materials which build new tissue in the second “proliferative” phase. Then over many weeks the scar undergoes a gradual process of smoothing of its bed and softening the underlying collagen tissues, termed the “maturation” phase. End result – flat, pale, fine-line, soft scars. Such a nice result, the ideal, often proves elusive, however. Patients often inquire about the immediate appearance after surgery of a raised scar line. This elevation is created intentionally by the plastic surgeon in a suturing technique called eversion, to counteract the natural tendency of scars to sink inward and cast unsightly shadows. Gradually over weeks the elevated bead line levels out. Detrimental factors can derail this process: malnutrition, smoking, steroids, excessive tension or swelling, heat or cold injury, excessive sun, chemical irritants, or inherited genetic factors.
How can you as a patient help to guide your scar’s healing? Avoidance of the above unhealthy practices is a good start. Specific scar treatments require daily performance until the desired scar shape and softness are achieved. The two most import scar helpers are moisture and pressure. Scars benefit from at least twice daily application of a bland moisturizer and deep pressure in the form of compression or massage. Some areas of the body (e.g. arms) are well-suited for elastic compression bands or garments. Silicone sheeting or gel provides a smooth, moisture-preserving material, with possible additional benefit from its surface charge interaction with the skin. The greater the number of hours per day wearing the silicone strip, the greater its benefits are. Scar redness usually fades over 12-24 months, but may be hastened with the use of Broad Band Light treatment in our office. Avoidance of sunlight with SPF 50 or greater is the key to scar fading during the first 12 months. Despite the best efforts, scars may still be troublesome. There are other additional measures we can use to calm down unruly scars using injections of steroids or laser treatments. Contact us at My Plastic Surgery Group for more help in managing your healing and your scars.