Scars are part of the natural healing process of skin lesions.
These marks can affect body aesthetics, and although for some people they can be a source of pride, for others they can cause shame and insecurity. Fortunately, there are different ways to lessen their presence.
What are scars?
Scars arise when the first and second layers of the skin (epidermis and dermis respectively) are damaged.
The body produces collagen fibers to form a kind of “patch” that covers the wound. They usually appear after cuts, burns, sores or scrapes.
Scars can also be caused by surgery, skin infections such as chicken pox, or other skin conditions such as acne.
The appearance of the scar will depend on different factors, such as the size and depth of the wound, location, healing time or the age of the affected person. In turn, there are different types of scars:
- atrophic: This type of scar is usually linked to acne or chicken pox. It is characterized by loss of tissue, which is why they usually have a flat appearance against the upper layer of the skin and a darker pigmentation.
- hypertrophic: in this case, an excess of tissue stands out on the skin. They tend to have a darker pigmentation and their growth is limited to the affected area.
- keloids: They are thick and inflamed scars due to an excessive production of tissue. Unlike hypertrophic ones, they can grow outside the affected area.
Treatment of scars
When a wound occurs on the skin, it will seek to heal itself through the healing process.
For this reason, the scar cannot be “erased” or “disappeared”, although it can be tried to make it look as “normal” as possible. This means that different treatments seek to make the scar resemble the skin in color, flexibility, or texture.
To do this, an evaluation of the skin is carried out in order to determine what type of scar the person has, analyzing variables such as relief, functionality and color.
The most widespread method for evaluating scars, which determines a score based on the pigmentation, vascularization, elasticity and height of the scar, is called the Vancouver scale.
After making an assessment of the scar, you can choose different techniques to treat it:
The apparatus, in this case, covers all the techniques that are performed using different types of machines or devices to reduce scars:
- dermabrasion: It is a skin rejuvenation process in which a rapidly rotating device is used to remove the outer layer of skin. It can diminish facial lines, marks, wrinkles, and even improve the appearance of scars.
- Radiofrequency: It is a technique that through the application of heat seeks to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, and thus reduce different marks found on the skin, including scars.
- 3MHz ultrasound: the use of mechanical waves is used to produce movements in the cutaneous tissues (alternating compressions and decompressions). These different pressures cause thermal effects (due to the friction of the tissues), improving blood circulation and the appearance of the scars.
- Vacuum therapy: It is a procedure that is performed by means of equipment that exerts negative pressure on specific areas of the body. This treatment is effective against scars as it increases blood supply, stimulates the production of collagen and elastin, and mobilizes subcutaneous fat.
Massage therapy consists of the use of different massage techniques for therapeutic purposes, that is, to treat different diseases and injuries.
In the case of scars, it can be useful to increase the elasticity of damaged skin, and decrease inflammation and edema (accumulation of fluid in the tissues).
Depending on the type of scar that is present, the health professional may choose to apply:
- chemical peel: it seeks to detach the upper layer of the skin from a chemical product.
- injections: hyaluronic acid, collagen or steroids can be applied, depending on the type of scar.
- Surgery: seeks to restore the appearance of the skin by removing skin tissue. There are also alternatives such as cryosurgery, where the superficial layers of the skin are frozen to reduce the size of the scars.
- Neuromuscular bandage or kinesiotaping: cotton tapes with an acrylic adhesive are used. This seeks to improve circulation and lymphatic drainage.
Traditional medicine recommends different natural remedies to complement the treatment of scars, because they speed up the recovery process and help control pigmentation. Among the most used options are:
- Coconut or olive oil.
- Aloe vera or aloe.
- Sodium bicarbonate.
- Lemon or potato slices.
- Apple vinager.
Until there is meaningful scientific evidence from human trials, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should be very careful.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, but first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: US National Library of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases