How to reduce the appearance of scars
Any process that disrupts the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin, can cause scarring. From inflammatory disorders such as acne and chickenpox to other forms of trauma such as cuts, falls or burns. While it’s not possible to altogether remove scarring from the skin, you can still guide a scar to become lighter, smoother, and more faded without the need for invasive treatments.
Types of scarring
Skin scars are on a broad spectrum, from tiny specks and neat, barely recognisable scars to larger, more aggressive scarring resulting from significant trauma. Keloid and hypertrophic scars are common types of scarring characterised by the build-up of excessive scar tissue, which usually extends beyond the boundaries of the initial skin injury. They usually occur after the skin has been injured, such as a cut, tattoo, piercing or graze and are caused by the over development of collagen in the dermis.
Hypertrophic scars look very similar to keloid scarring but don’t expand and can result from surgery or local trauma to the skin.
Atrophic scarring is dipped scarring, where rather than causing a raised scar a slightly dented often pale scar is formed.
Acne scarring comes with its own subcategory of scars – boxcar, rolling scars and toothpick scars – including a wide range of atrophic scars with concave or superficial surfaces that can often be improved thanks to various specialised skincare products and treatments. Some acne scars are flat and red or brown in appearance (post-inflammatory erythema or pigmentation), and these can also be quite simple to improve.
The right treatments depend on the type of scar, but hydration is critical in the first instance to help reduce redness, swelling and expansion. Scars caused by an injury need time to heal before they can be treated. The body has a natural means of healing scars, including by producing collagen, and using treatments too soon can interfere with that process.
Sun protection is also crucial during this stage. Sun exposure not only damages your skin, but it can worsen the appearance of scars. The cells that produce pigment in the skin become overactive during the healing stage and produce more pigment than normal, which is why scars are darker in the early stages of healing.
There are many treatments available to help fade the various forms of scarring. Acne scars that lead to textural changes within the skin usually require collagen-stimulating treatments to remodel the skin and correct these structural deformities, whilst keloid and hypertrophic scarring will likely respond better to steroid injections.
RF Microneedling: Best for acne scarring
There are many different treatment options out there to help acne scarring, but Radiofrequency microneedling trumps them all. This powerful combination rebuilds collagen and elastin using microneedling and radiofrequency technologies for an advanced skin rejuvenating effect, resulting in a tighter, smoother and more radiant appearance in the treated area.
Dermal fillers: Best for acne boxcars
Not many people are aware that the same product commonly used to build volume in the face can also help an array of skin problems, one of them being acne scars. A minuscule amount of hyaluronic acid filler can temporarily plump and smooth indentations left behind from acne. However, depending on the type of filler used, the treatment will need to be repeated at regular intervals (usually every six months) to maintain the results.
Keloid injections: Best for hypertrophic and keloid scarring
If your scar is hypertrophic or a keloid, there is a significant amount of inflammation that’s occurring. Steroid injections act as a powerful anti-inflammatory, suppressing the abnormal scar tissue from forming and reducing its appearance.
They work by breaking the bonds between collagen fibres, reducing the amount of scar tissue beneath the skin. Steroid injection treatments reduce the size of scarring by actively reducing the amount of scar tissue that develops. The injections are normally given once every 4-6 weeks, and usually, six treatments are required.
AHA Chemical Peels: Best for anti-inflammatory hyperpigmentation
Not to be confused with deep acid peels, an AHA skin peel is a non-invasive option for lessening the appearance of scarring in the superficial layer of the skin. Affecting the epidermis (top layer) of the skin only, they are particularly effective against acne scarring and work by brightening the skin, removing dead skin cells, and stimulating the development of new healthy cells in their place.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.