It goes without saying that scars are one face and body woe that can be incredibly difficult to remedy. And, what’s right for the person next to you might not work so well for you. Since “scars come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors,” New York dermatologist Jennifer Silverman Kitchin, MD stresses that the number-one step you can take before choosing a scar product is being evaluated by a board-certified dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Here, some of their go-tos.
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One of the best things you can do to reduce the look of any scar is to keep it protected from the sun. This bring-anywhere cream takes that into consideration with an SPF of 30, plus it’s clinically proven to improve the color, texture and overall appearance of scars, and even works well on old ones. “The Mederma Advanced Scar Gel is really great to use for older scars as it is affordable and if you are consistent with the application you will see improvement of your skin over time,” says New York facial plastic surgeon Konstantin Vasyukevich, MD. “Just a warning: You may have to go through multiple tubes until you start seeing significant improvement!”
Biodermis (prices vary)
Campbell, CA dermatologist Amelia K. Hausauer, MD always recommends a two-step scar protocol: silicone dressing and sunscreen. “Silicone sheeting and gels form a second skin–like barrier that helps aid in recovery and prevent the formation of thickened tissue like keloids. If the scar is in a covered area like the torso, I recommend the thick sheeting like Epi-derm by Biodermis. In more visible areas such as the face, gels are often preferable.” New York facial plastic surgeon Lee Ann M. Klausner, MD also gives the go for topical silicone gels.
Boca Raton, FL oculoplastic surgeon Steven Fagien, MD offers a different “treatment approach” to scar-minimizing products: “Neuromodulators like botulinum toxins, used largely for cosmetic enhancement, have been shown in certain conditions to dramatically reduce the appearance of scars when used appropriately.”
In addition to Mederma, Dr. Vasyukevich’s lists this product as a favorite to couple it with. “It is important to keep skin moisturized to prevent scarring and this is a light formula that is aloe-vera based so it is antibacterial and soothing.”
Docs recommend this tried-and-tested botanical-packed standby, which even burn centers rely on for its effective results. Besides helping to heal scars, it also improves the appearance of uneven skin tone and stretch marks, according to Dallas dermatologist Elizabeth Bahar Houshmand, MD who calls out its ability to help diminish the look of stretch mark scars, specifically. “It has chamomile, which is calming and reduced redness, calendula, which has antibacterial effects, and vitamins A and E, which help promote collagen and hydrate. It also is easy to spread and glides on to the skin.”
“Silicone all the way!” is the rally cry of Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew J. Elias and he’s particularly a fan of Swiss brand Strataderm (so is dermatologist Saddle Brook, NJ dermatologist Dr. Fredric Haberman, who categorizes it as a “unique medical device with proven efficacy in the prevention and treatment of old and new scars” and New Orleans dermatologist Mary Lupo, MD, who calls it her “go-to line”) and Stratamed by Stratpharma. Omaha, NE dermatologist Joel Schlessinger, MD also selects it as his pick.
“The key to supporting healthy wound-healing and preventing abnormal scarring is a treatment that keeps the scar moisturized and protected from bacteria. I like this product because it’s safe for sensitive skin (even babies) and is gentle enough for all areas, including the neck and face,” he says. “This gel is gas-permeable, yet waterproof, so it protects the scar while allowing it to breathe properly, as it works to soften, flatten and relieve redness and skin discoloration associated with the scar. Additionally, it is user-friendly and feels good on application.”
Another must-try from the manufacturer: “I love Stratacel silicone film wound gel—especially for open wounds to help healing and prevent scarring,” says Fairfax, VA dermatologist Brenda Dintiman, MD. “I have used it for patients and family members when they scrape their knees or arms from a fall from a bike or playing soccer.”
Chicago dermatologist Danny Del Campo, MD also stands by the belief that “silicone in any topical form is a good start” for treating scars and his star selection can be found in most drugstores. “My go-to is Serica Moisturizing Scar Formula—it has good clinical data, it is easy to find, and it has unique formulations of other ingredients including silicone. I highly recommended it.” In addition to Strataderm and ScarAway sheets, Davie, FL dermatologist Marianna Blyumin-Karasik, MD also lists Serica as a favorite.
An essential step in the post-recovery process that you actually apply during the scar formation stage (the part where it is still pink and raised, not yet flat and white), this gel relies on natural, plant-derived ingredients to support smoother, clearer skin. “We always recommend this product,” says Boston plastic surgeon Joseph A. Russo, MD. “When applied regularly in the a.m. and p.m., the gel helps improve the appearance of both new and old texturized scars. One of the key ingredients in this healing treatment is a synergistic complex that includes Centella Asiatica, an herbal extract and highly effective antioxidant, plus Centelline, which helps rebalance cells and promote healthy recovery.”
The problem with some scar treatments is that they don’t always totally stay put. These tiny ultra-thin discs help deliver patented silicone technology to smaller scars and won’t slip or come off during the day. And if you need something larger than the disc: “I recommend ScarAway scar sheets daily!” says Duluth, MN dermatologist Hilary C. Reich, MD. “They are a silicone scar sheet with a fabric backing. They are over-the-counter, inexpensive and most importantly, they work!” Shenandoah, TX dermatologist Lana Hawayek, MD agrees and offers this DIY tip: “You can get the ScarAway brand on Amazon and cut them into the size you need. Leave them on as long as you can until the scar looks better.”
Senté Dermal Repair Cream ($164)
With the ability to help the skin heal itself from sunburns and scarring, this wear-under-makeup hydrating cream also deeply nourishes and diminishes the appearance of fine lines. As an added bonus, it also works well after procedures like IPL, lasers, chemical peels, skin-tightening and injectables.
Delray Beach, FL dermatologist Dr. Brittany Smirnov is a fan of Silagen, “specifically the formulation with SPF for sun-exposed sites,” and so is Washington, D.C. dermatologist Sarika Snell, MD, who says she highly recommends it. “Silicone helps hydrate the skin, normalizes the collagen production, protects against bacterial infection and can also decreases the itch can be caused by scars.”
Blacksburg, VA dermatologist Dr. Aleksandra Brown—who also backs Silagen’s benefits—offers this tip for use: “Use twice daily with zinc oxide sunscreen over top of it in morning.”
Naples, FL dermatologist Anne Marie Tremaine, MD stresses that the used-in-tandem duo of silicone and sun protection are both VERY important when treating scars and she recommends BioCornium gel, which contains silicone and SPF. Centerville, VA dermatologist Liza A. Moore, MD agrees. “Silicone scar gel with SPF is perfect. It will keep the scar moist and protect it from the sun. Sun can make scars more red and less flat.”
Not convinced? Newport Beach, CA plastic surgeon Sanjay Grover, MD says “I have used Biocorneum silicone scar gel for years with good success.” And so does New York dermatologist Ritu Saini, MD. “As a Mohs surgeon, I recommend it.”
Germantown, TN dermatologist Purvisha Patel, MD prefers silicone scar sheets for raised scars, but for hyperpigmentation left post-scarring, she recommends Visha Skincare Advanced Correcting Serum (she created it). “It has retinol, vitamin E, ferrulic acid and a patented non-hydroquinone natural skin lighter.”
Houston dermatologist Farah Shah, MD says silicone gel sheets from Mepiform—which are commonly used in Europe and Dubai—are “amazing for all types of scars,” and points to the advantage of having “better adherence to skin than most other gel sheets” for its A-plus rating.
Embrace Scar Therapy ($25)
Pasadena, CA plastic surgeon Lily Lee, MD likes Embrace Scar Therapy because it is silicone-based and, as she says, “is the only scar product, that I know of, that takes tension off the scar while it is healing. It is based on sound science!” San Jose, CA plastic surgeon Kirk Churukian, MD agrees and likes the treatment for one very specific reason: “The liquid silicone preparation that is great for irregular areas on the face and body. It is great for incisions near hair and especially great for kids who may have trouble keeping a discrete sheet in place.”
Also hitting Dr. Elias’ list: Skinuva, which he goes as far to say will be a “holy grail” when it gets the addition of SPF to the formulation. “Currently, the silicon matrix combined with growth factors yields great results at improving scars, but to truly be next-level, it needs SPF.”
You know them as the go-to choice for treating numerous skin conditions—acne, sun damage, pores, wrinkles, pigment, texture, psoriasis to name a few—and Bloomfield Hills, MI dermatologist Linda Honet, MD says it should come as no surprise that retinoids are also an amazing treatment for scars, too. “My go-to regimen for scars includes a silicone gel like Strataderm ($23) applied every morning and a retinoid like tretinoin or tazarotene applied at bedtime. At times, I also will add Alastin Restorative Skin Complex ($195) or another peptide serum for an extra boost for improved and normalized collagen synthesis. Of course, when skin care is combined with office procedures like laser, radiofrequency, microdermabrasion, microneedling, subcision, and/or intralesional injections of corticosteroids and other medications, the degree, severity and appearance of the scar can be vastly improved. Since more often than not, scars pose quite a therapeutic challenge, it is essential to take a multimodality approach by combining effective home skin care with in-office procedures—but equally important is to maintain patience and persistence during the entire therapeutic process.”
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