Scars are often thought of as battle wounds-reminders of a time and place when the body was put to the test and survived with a story. Anyone who has had a C-section can attest to this. After all, a scar-the fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after injury-is your body’s way of repairing itself and is a natural part of the healing process.
For instance, while a healthy baby is a good trade out for a C-section scar, some scars, especially those from cosmetic surgery, are not typically ones women want to show off. This explains why so much research continues to be done to improve the look of post-surgery scars. New strategies are constantly being developed and tested and now, scientists at New York University have found a new treatment to reduce or in some cases, stop scars from forming on the skin. Researchers found that applying agents that block certain receptors in healing skin can greatly reduce the scar, producing skin that feels more like the original, unscarred skin. Research is still in the beginning stages, but it could mean that post-operative scar care could be greatly improved.
At this time, there are some good options already available for scars. Nonablative lasers can stimulate the production of collagen from within the body to improve texture and tone on the surface of the skin. “In the past, the go-to in-office treatment for treating scars was cortisone injections and silicone-based sheeting, but today the trend is to use laser devices,” says San Francisco dermatologist Vic Narurkar, MD. “They are more predictable, offer better results in many (but not all) patients, and are especially effective at treating raised, red scars. Plus, they can safely be used on facial scars.” Injectable fillers can also be used with success to treat facial scars, especially those caused by acne.
Most doctors agree that it is also important to continue to treat your scars at home in conjunction with any in-office scar treatment. There are also over-the-counter options like Mederma.
However, “it is important to keep in mind that scars fade and usually improve over time without treatment, so the only way to know if a therapy works is to treat only half of the scar and compare to an untreated “control” half,” says Mountlake Terrace, WA, plastic surgeon Richard Baxter, MD. The good news is, much time and research is going into scar treatment, so hopefully one day, they really will be a thing of the past.
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