Scars are physical evidence of your body’s amazing healing powers. If your skin has been injured by burns, lacerations, or a condition such as chicken pox or acne, it repairs itself by rushing collagen to the injury site and “sewing up” the wound with collagen’s long protein fibers.
So, scars are a good thing. However, your body usually produces too much collagen to be sure the wound or damage is sufficiently repaired. The collagen fibers are disordered and overlapping, much as if you’d sewn a ripped piece of fabric in a rush.
Your new skin, therefore, looks and feels different than your healthy skin. If your scar is tucked away in a discreet area, it may not bother you at all. But when scars appear on your face or other areas of your body that you’d normally show off proudly, they can make you feel self-conscious and even ashamed.
Dr. Imad El Asmar, an expert dermatologist at Vermont Med Spa in Los Angeles, California, talks about the different types of scars your body produces and how you can improve their appearance with lasers and other innovative therapies. He stresses that while the appearance of a scar can be improved so dramatically that it’s nearly invisible, it can never be fully restored to the look of uninjured skin.
If you had severe acne or chickenpox, you may still have the scars to show it, even if it’s been decades since your last breakout.
Acne tends to leave three types of scars:
- Icepick scars — deep, narrow puncture scars
- Boxcar scars — shallow or deep with sharp edges and angles
- Rolling scars — wide, shallow, and wavy-looking
Chickenpox scars are depressed and shallow. They tend to be round, just like the lesions that caused them.
Dr. El Asmar smooths out shallow depressed scars with the Icon® Aesthetic fractional laser. In three to five 30-minute treatments, the Icon resurfaces your skin, removing the outer layer, so that newer, fresher skin can take its place. The Icon also stimulates the production of healthy, new collagen and elastin that fills in the depressions left by your scars.
If your depressed scars are deep, Dr. El Asmar may also improve them with microneedling, which breaks up the disordered collagen in your scar tissue. Sometimes surgical excision may also be necessary. Any slight surface irregularity can then be improved with hyaluronic-acid dermal fillers.
Keloids are raised scars that can be highly visible and even grow larger than the original wound. They arise gradually and may not begin to grow until many months after the initial injury. Men, women, and children with darker skin are prone to get keloids.
In addition to being unsightly, keloids can be itchy and may even be painful. Large keloids can limit your movement if they form over a joint. Keloids never fade or diminish on their own and always require medical treatment.
Dr. El Asmar usually recommends against the surgical removal of keloids because the trauma of surgery can cause new keloids to form. Instead, he may use a variety of treatments to improve your keloids, including:
- Corticosteroid injections
- Icon laser resurfacing
- Interferon or other medications
If you’re prone to keloids, Dr. El Asmar may give you silicone gel sheets to apply to the site of a new injury. The pressure helps prevent future keloid formation.
Stretch marks occur when your skin stretches to accommodate a sudden change in volume faster than it can produce new skin cells.
You may get stretch marks if you grew rapidly as a teenager. Most pregnant women develop stretch marks as their abdomen expands. Bodybuilders can also get stretch marks from their increases in muscle mass.
The Icon laser is Dr. El Asmar’s preferred treatment for stretch marks. The heat from the laser stimulates your skin to produce new collagen and elastin that help create healthy, new skin cells that take the place of scar tissue.
Severe burns can cause a complicated scar called a contracture scar. The tissue that forms when this scar is healing is tighter and thicker than your normal skin. Because contracture scars actually contract your tissues (pull them together), they can inhibit your movements, especially if they’re around a joint.
Contracture scars may reach deep into your body, even affecting your muscles. Dr. El Asmar may perform laser resurfacing or surgical excision to improve the surface scar. Complicated cases may require a referral.
Don’t suffer your scars any longer. Get safe, effective treatment with lasers and other therapies at Vermont Med Spa today. Call or use the online booking form to set up a consultation.