As our largest organ, the living skin that surrounds our bones and muscle is really good at repairing damage. Those repairs can end up leaving scars, but you can help your skin in a number of ways to lessen those marks or make the nearly unnoticeable.
Plastic surgeons like Dr. Martin and I have a wide range of treatments that go beyond the steps you can take at home. But a combination of our expertise, for those hard-to-treat scars, and these skin-saving approaches that anyone can apply to a cut, abrasion or laceration, go a long way toward reducing the impact of a scar on the skin.
Scars most often form when the minor wound is not properly treated during the healing process. There are several steps you can take with minor cuts or scrapes, and they all make a difference:
- Keep the injury clean. Wash gently with warm soapy water and remove any dirt or debris.
- Keep the wound moist. Petroleum jelly is a great means of keeping the wound from drying out and forming a scab – those scabs can become scars. It can also cut down on the itchy quality that comes with healing.
- Keep the injury covered. Once you have applied the jelly, use an adhesive bandage to project it. Hydro-gel sheets can be used for larger abrasions. Change the dressing every day as it heals.
- Be careful using common over-the-counter antibiotic ointments. Some can cause allergic contact dermatitis, and that can make the scar worse. Always ask your physician before using these products. It can save time, money and possible inflammation.
These steps all will help reduce the scarring that can come from a minor cut or scrape. If your injury requires stitches, make sure to get face-to-face advice from the doctor or nurse who puts in the stiches on the best way to keep the wound clean and cared for, to avoid scars.
It might sound odd, but once the healing is complete, it’s a good idea to use sunscreen on the injury area, as it could help reduce the scar – or help it to fade more quickly. In cases where plastic surgeons are brought into help patients with injuries that can leave scars, there are more advanced options.
One of those is scar-revision surgery. It’s used in cases where the steps we discussed above were not carried out, or they weren’t done for a long enough period. Poor healing can lead to obvious, unsightly scars, with raised areas or recessions that make the scar more noticeable.
When these sorts of scars are on a prominent part of your body, such as your face, hands, arms or legs, treatment options can help you. We cannot erase scars, but we can use medical-grade skin-care products, as well as minimally invasive in-office treatments. Those methods, only available via a plastic surgeon, may help decrease scar appearance. Surgical scar revision also is another method that will reduce the noticeability of the injury.
Significant scar revision surgery can be the best choice for people of either gender or any age, but they are best for those who are physically healthy, who do not smoke and who do not suffer from active skin diseases, such as acne.
The most important steps are the simple ones; when they are not enough, a conversation with your doctor or with scar-treatment experts in plastic surgery or dermatology will give you additional choices that can help you look and feel your best.