Updated January 8th, 2020
Scars are your body’s way of healing after several layers of your skin undergo trauma. Whether the result of severe acne, an injury, or surgery, it can be a challenge to find effective scar treatment.
Although there’s no way to make a scar disappear completely, there are ways to diminish it. Choosing the best treatment for a scar, however, depends on the type of scar you have.
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Types of Scars
Scars come in all different shapes and sizes. Knowing the kind of scar you have can determine the type of treatment you receive. The most common types of scars are:
- Keloid scars: If you have a scar from an injury, it’s most likely a keloid scar. Firm and either pink or dark red, keloid scars form as a result of extra collagen under your skin. Keloid scars also extend beyond the area of the initial injury.
- Hypertrophic scars: If your scar looks like a keloid scar but doesn’t go beyond the affected area, it’s most likely a hypertrophic scar. Raised and often red, hypertrophic scars are commonly mistaken for keloid scars but are easier to treat, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
- Contracture scars: If you suffer a severe burn and it leaves a scar, you have a contracture scar. Contracture scars are often deep and can tighten the skin, sometimes restricting movement.
- Acne scars: If you’ve experienced severe acne, your skin may be left with acne scarring. These are permanent textural changes and indentations left on the skin as a result of a serious acne breakout.
Effective Scar Treatment Options
Once you develop a scar, it becomes a permanent part of your skin. Thankfully there are ways to make scars less visible. Common scar treatments recommended by dermatologists include:
- Surgical procedure. Surgically removing a scar is the most invasive type of treatment. Your doctor may recommend a surgeon to evaluate your scar and perform a procedure to make it less visible. For instance, a surgeon can reduce the size of a wide scar or take skin from another part of your body to place it over the scarred area.
- Laser scar removal. For surgical scars in particular, laser scar removal is an effective, noninvasive option for scar treatment. Dermatologists use intense light to reduce the size, color, and shape of a scar. Different kinds of laser removal are more effective in treating one type of scar over another.
- Chemical peels. A dermatologist will place a chemical solution over the area of your skin where scarring occurs. When the peel is removed, a layer of skin lifts away to reveal a smoother layer of skin. Chemical peels require multiple treatments and are best for surface-level scars.
- Dermabrasion. Using a machine that looks like a small sander, a dermatologist can smooth away the top layer of your skin. Similar to a chemical peel, this treatment is a good option for smoothing a raised scar.
- Injections. For scars that rise above your skin, steroid injections can shrink the size of the scar and make it even with the surface of your skin. Other types of injections include dermal fillers or collagen, which fill in the area around a deep scar.
- Ointments. Over-the-counter scar removal creams and ointments are a good solution for minor scarring. Dermatologists can prescribe more effective scar treatment gels.
Side Effects of Scars
Though they’re a natural part of the healing process, scars can be emotionally devastating. scars can negatively impact self-esteem and result in mental complications, especially if they result in disfigurement or are in a prominent location.
Other side effects of scars may include:
- Anxiety and/or depression
If you have more questions about scar treatment or would like to know more about removing a scar, contact the UPMC Department of Dermatology.
The UPMC Department of Dermatology diagnoses, treats, and manages numerous hair, skin, and nail conditions and diseases. We care for common and uncommon conditions, and our treatments include both surgical and nonsurgical options. We operate several specialty centers for various conditions. The UPMC Cosmetic Surgery and Skin Health Center is a comprehensive dermatologic laser facility, offering a full range of cosmetic services and procedures. With UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we offer a Skin Cancer Program that provides complete care from screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and beyond. Find a dermatology provider near you.