Surgical Scar Correction

Understanding Scar Treatment

When the skin is injured from a cut or tear, the body heals by forming scar tissue. The appearance of the scar can range from nearly invisible to very obvious and disfiguring. A plastic surgeon has many options for treating and improving facial scars.

Understanding Scar Revision Surgery

Surgical techniques for scar revision are designed to make the scar as smooth and invisible as possible. Whenever the skin is cut there will be a scar, therefore the goal is to always create as small, fine and invisible scar as possible. This can involve recreating the incision, moving skin around or even moving the scar to make it less visible. Our Illume plastic surgeons will evaluate you and discuss the options for revision surgery.

A surgeon may use aesthetic techniques to move a scar to a less visible place. With scars on the face, a surgeon may remove and reposition the scar formed by an incision closure so that it is broken up or heals along a natural fold in the skin, making it less noticeable. For example, surgeons may reposition a scar located on the cheek closer to the ear, making it almost imperceptible. With large burn scars, a surgeon may reduce and realign the scar tissue to more naturally follow the contours of the body.

Other cosmetic techniques include injecting a small amount of fat—which surgeons typically remove from another part of your body, such as the thigh or belly—to fill in any sunken areas caused by an open wound that healed by itself or by a wide zone of injury.

Types of Scars

Some scars, especially when raised, may be improved with dermabrasion and laser resurfacing. These are methods our surgeons use to make “rough or elevated” scars less prominent, by removing part of the upper layers of skin with an abrading tool or laser light. The scar will remain, but should be smoother and less visible.

Keloid or hypertrophic scars are often treated first with injection of medications like steroids to reduce size. If this is unsatisfactory, the scars can be removed surgically, and the incisions closed with fine stitches, often resulting in less prominent scars.

For scars that cover large areas of skin—for example, a burn scar—a surgeon may use a reconstructive technique, such as skin expansion, to allow for replacement of the burn scar with normal skin. In skin expansion, surgeons first implant a small balloon beneath healthy skin next to the scar. In the weeks before surgery to remove the scar, the balloon is slowly filled with saline water during office visits to expand the healthy skin. Then, when performing surgery to remove the scar, the surgeons use this expanded skin to replace the damaged or burned skin. The new skin heals naturally.

What to Expect After the Surgery

You can expect to feel some discomfort after scar-revision surgery. Some degree of swelling, bruising, and redness is expected in the early phase of healing. It is important for you to follow your surgeon’s after-care recommendations to the letter. Though the sutures will be removed within days after the surgery, your skin needs time to heal. Patients are encouraged to decrease activity after surgery and to keep the wound elevated when lying down, to use cold compresses to reduce swelling, and to avoid any activity that places undue stress on the area of the incision.

It is important to remember that no matter how bad a scar looks, it usually can be made to look better. Scar revision treatment results can take a year or longer to mature.