Finding the right scar treatment
Having a facial scar can be bothersome. It can make you feel self-conscious and may even interfere with the function of your face. Whether the result of an injury, a surgery like Mohs reconstruction, or just a reminder of the acne you fought during your younger years, there are treatments to help address scars that have not faded over time.
If you are ready treat that facial scar, start with a consultation with a fellowship-trained facial plastic surgeon. Dr. Gregory Branham, Dr. John Chi and Dr. Emily Spataro are trusted experts at Washington University Facial Plastic Surgery Center.
Determining the right treatment
Whether you are trying to diminish the appearance of a scar or even restore facial function, it is best to identify the type of scar and how it will respond to treatment.
For those who want to treat a scar following an injury, it is best to wait at least six months to a year before treating the scar with anything invasive, says Dr. Spataro.
“This is because the scar is still healing, and some treatments may not even be necessary after the natural healing process of the body,” she explains. “For example, the color of the scar can evolve significantly over time, especially if it is kept protected from the sun. It can often lighten without any intervention.”
Determining the type of scar is the first step in choosing the right treatment. The following are a few types of scars the Facial Plastic Surgery Center physicians often treat:
- Severe burns that destroy large sections of skin may cause skin to heal irregularly, resulting in a puckered appearance. As the skin heals, this contracting movement may affect muscles and tendons.
- Keloid scars are a result of the skin’s overproduction of collagen after a wound has healed. These scars generally appear as growths in the scar site.
- Hypertrophic scars, unlike keloids, do not grow out of the boundaries of the scar area. Because of their thick, raised texture, hypertrophic scars can be unsightly and may also restrict the natural movement of muscles and tendons.
Burn scars can be difficult to treat because they often involve large areas of skin, Dr. Chi explains. “If the range of motion in your face is impaired, the scar may need to be replaced with healthy skin (like from a local flap after tissue expansion or a skin graft),” he says. “Burns represent a unique and challenging type of scar.”
While Keloid and hypertrophic scars are often dealt with somewhat similarly, if they are small, sometimes they respond to steroid injections or silicone sheeting, Dr. Spataro says. “Scars that require surgical removal are then followed by close follow-up, steroid injections and silicone sheeting so that they do not reform,” she adds.
What to expect
The best treatment for facial scars depends on the appearance of the scar, explains Dr. Spataro. “Surgical procedures often involve excision and repair/revision of the scar,” she says. “Procedures also include dermabrasion, which is essentially like sanding the skin, or peel or laser resurfacing, which can also address skin discoloration. Less invasive options include steroid injections, sun avoidance and topical treatments.”
The duration of treatment depends on the individual patient and the scar being treated. “For some patients, only one visit may be required, while others may need several visits and will need to be followed for a long duration of time,” Dr. Spataro adds. “This is best assessed at the time of consultation. For instance, patients with keloids have a propensity for them to reform, so these patients are often followed for a longer period of time and require more treatments.”
Recovery also depends on the type of treatment. Topical treatments or steroid injections have very little downtime associated with them, whereas scarrevision or dermabrasion may take several weeks to heal completely.
Whatever type of treatment you choose, your doctor can help you make the choice that meets your individual needs. For more information or to schedule a consultation with the physicians at the Facial Plastic Surgery Center, call 314-996-3880 or click here.