As we progress through life, we all have encounters and experiences that injure our skin, leaving behind blemishes and scars. Any burn, injury, surgery, or other trauma can cause lasting marks, some of which can be severe. How your skin develops scars depends on multiple factors: the depth and size of the wound, your heredity, your age, and even your ethnicity and gender.
Since scar tissue is more fragile than normal skin tissue, it is more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Other characteristics are that sweat glands and hair follicles do not grow back after the wound heals.
If you find scarring is affecting your self-confidence and quality of life, you can learn more about the scar revision techniques offered by Dr. Daniel Ritacca and his team at Ritacca Cosmetic Surgery and Medspa in Vernon Hills, IL, by contacting him online.
What Causes Scars?
When an injury damages the layer of connective tissue below the epidermis, your body closes the wound with fibrous bands of collagen. These fibrous bands are different from normal skin in that they have a different texture and are stronger than the skin around them.
The difference in appearance between these two types of skin may be minimal, as many scars gradually fade with time. They may smooth out or become pale and easy to conceal with cosmetics. However, scars that are discolored, raised, pitted, or even sunken may be challenging to hide and become a source of embarrassment.
Raised scars, also known as keloid or hypertrophic scars, can form when the body produces too much collagen during the healing process. Pitted scars can result from a loss of sub-dermal muscle tissue or fat due to injury.
Superficial scars often disappear on their own with the normal shedding and regrowth of the dermis. However, when a scar extends into the dermis, normal cellular renewal may not reach its deeper layers; this is where scar revision therapies can play a role in rejuvenating severely damaged skin.
What Are the Different Types of Scars?
Scar tissue consists of collagen, which is the same tissue found in normal skin. However, it typically differs in appearance from healthy skin because the scar tissue collagen fibers form into a “cross-stitch” pattern, whereas normal collagen has more of a woven pattern.
Despite the typical characteristics of scars, they also take on different forms, each requiring specialized treatment techniques.
- Hypertrophic scars: These result from the body producing too much collagen in the form of red bumps in the scarred area. They typically form in shape and size a month or two after the wound has healed.
- Contracture scars: Often associated with burned skin, these scars tighten the skin, which can impair a person’s ability to move. These scars may also extend deeper, even affecting muscles and nerves.
- Atrophic scars: Making the skin appear sunken, this type of scar is generally the result of losing muscle or fat from an area of the body, causing the skin to sink. Acne scarring, burns, or surgical scars are examples of these.
- Keloid scars: A type of hypertrophic scar, not always forming as a result of a wound, these not only show as red bumps on the skin. They can extend beyond the original wound site and do not diminish in size over time.
- Acne scars: Almost type of acne can leave behind scars that vary in depth.
- Stretch marks: Caused by rapid weight gain or loss, which could be the result of pregnancy or growth spurts, these stretch marks are more of a cosmetic concern than a medical one.
If you are uncomfortable with a scar or have any concerns about treatment with a cosmetic scar revision, Dr. Daniel Ritacca would be happy to answer any questions you might have. You can contact him at Ritacca Cosmetic Surgery and Medspa.
Can I Prevent Scars?
Not every wound will form a scar, especially if it is only a simple knee scrape or a scratch. However, a deeper wound, especially one that takes longer to heal, will be more likely to form scar tissue. As a general rule, the longer it takes your skin to heal, the more likely it is to develop a scar at the site of an injury.
After an injury or surgical procedure, the correct treatment of the wound is vital in preventing the formation of raised, darkened, uneven scar tissue. After sustaining a deep wound, you should seek immediate medical attention to make sure a doctor can treat the injury, closing it with stitches as necessary. Scar prevention measures are most effective when a wound is still fresh.
During cosmetic surgery such as that performed by Dr. Ritacca, small incisions, laser, and endoscopic surgical methods minimize the risk of scarring. In the unlikely event that scarring does occur, scar revision treatment is available to rejuvenate the skin and restore a smooth, unblemished surface.
What Are the Best Ways to Treat Scars?
You can consider a variety of options for addressing unwanted scars, some of which might be more effective.
- Over-the-counter solutions: Typically, these are topical creams, ointments, or gels, some of which might be available through a prescription. They may reduce scars caused by burns, surgical incisions or other injuries and wounds. Treatment options could include corticosteroids or antihistamine creams if your scars are sensitive and cause itching. Pressure dressings or silicone gel sheeting can prevent acne scars and to treat existing ones.
- Surgery: Many options exist in this category, and these include skin grafts and scar removal surgery.
- Injections: In cases involving protruding scars such as hypertrophic scars or keloids, steroid injections can flatten the scars. These injections can be a stand-alone treatment or in combination with other therapies.
- Laser surgery: During laser scar revision, Dr. Ritacca uses light energy to treat the fibrous bands of collagen and to stimulate the healing of the scar within the dermis. This treatment encourages the skin to start regenerating. In the weeks that follow treatment, healthy skin cells gradually replace damaged cells, and the distribution of collagen evens out. The pro-fractional laser Dr. Ritacca uses is a specialized medical laser for cosmetic purposes, including scar revision.
- Exfoliation, chemical peels, or dermabrasion: Removal of the scarred layer of skin can often lighten the appearance of a scar. However, during your consultation with Dr. Ritacca, you’ll be able to discuss whether this type of procedure can help you.
- Fillers: While not permanent, fillers can introduce normal collagen into an atrophic scar. You may need to repeat the procedure every few months to maintain your desired results.
For your cosmetic scar revision, Dr. Daniel Ritacca can help you improve your confidence and quality of life. To learn more about the outstanding scar revision techniques he offers, contact him at Ritacca Cosmetic Surgery and Medspa, in Vernon Hills, IL, or by calling (847) 367-8815 to arrange a free consultation. He’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about scar treatment.