The power of your body to heal itself is amazing; when your skin becomes damaged from a cut, burn or other injury, your body goes to work producing new skin cells to replace those that were damaged. A scab forms and eventually falls off to reveal this new, healthy skin, but unfortunately, the area often features a scar.
The skin all over your body is constantly being replaced through the process of skin cell turnover. Since cells are continuously being shed all over, the process is gradual and the cells that comprise the tissue are uniform and even across the entire surface of your skin.
When you have a wound, skin growth is highly concentrated at the site of the injury and protein cells called collagen form the bulk of the tissue. As a result, the area of new skin has a different, fibrous texture that is distinctively noticeable. This area is what is commonly referred to as a scar. All skin wounds leave some amount of scarring; however, for minor wounds the marks are often too small to be seen with the naked eye.
If you have a wound, you can limit the amount of visible scar tissue that forms by taking care of the affected area. As soon as you have an injury that breaks the skin, clean the wound with cool water and remove any debris from inside of it. Avoid hydrogen peroxide, soaps and chemicals, which can actually interfere with the healing process. While your wound heals, keep the area covered and apply an over-the-counter antibiotic cream or ointment as directed on its packaging to help with healing. Never pick at or remove scabs, as this increases the likelihood of scarring.
Noticeable scars in prominent places can be a real detriment to your self-esteem. Some scars fade with time as the cells in their areas are continually shed and replaced, but many linger for life. If scars are affecting your appearance, there are a variety of treatments available to help make them less apparent.
The easiest scar removal treatments involve topical creams, ointments and other solutions that are applied directly to the scar. A variety of over-the-counter treatments is available and use different active ingredients to combat scar tissue.
The juice from regular white and yellow onions has anti-inflammatory abilities and limits the amount of collagen production in the skin. This can help to thin and flatten scars. Typically, scar removal treatment with onion juice takes several months to produce results.
Some specialty grocery stores sell onion juice that you can purchase to use as a home remedy. Alternatively, you can slice an onion, put it in a blender and then strain the puree for an hour, reserving the liquid. If your skin is still slightly abraded, onion juice may cause stinging, so you may want to dilute the liquid with water before applying it with a cotton swab or ball.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids
Obtained from fruits, alpha hydroxy acids are chemical exfoliators that dissolve the bonds that hold damaged and dead skin cells to new, healthy ones. Alpha hydroxy acids have the ability to reduce the appearance of some types of scars, particularly those caused by acne. A number of over-the-counter products contain alpha hydroxy acids.
Although doctors do not understand how, silicone has a unique ability to flatten scar tissue and make it less noticeable. After extensive clinical studies proved the effectiveness of silicone for treating scars, many hospitals began using silicone sheets under dressings for burn victims and others with severe, widespread wounds.
Topical creams and ointments that contain silicone are also available to help you remove your scars. You can use these products when you're not wearing silicone sheets to enhance their effectiveness.
For severe scarring that does not respond to topical treatments, clinical interventions are available to help remove the unwanted tissue. These treatments must be performed by a doctor, such as a dermatologist or plastic surgeon.
With laser resurfacing, highly concentrated beams of light are used to change the texture of your skin. Doctors either destroy the skin in the scar completely or eliminate just the collagen, while leaving the skin in tact. The procedure takes only a few minutes, but does cause discomfort, redness and swelling afterwards in most patients. The procedure poses a risk for infection, and as many as 40 percent of people with darker skin tones notice a difference in the pigmentation of their skin in the area after resurfacing. The results of laser resurfacing are not always immediately visible; you may need to wait several months to notice a difference.
Autologous Fat Transfer
A type of plastic surgery, an autologous fat transfer involves removing fat stored in some area of your body, such as your buttocks or stomach, and then injecting it beneath the scarred area. The fat plumps up the scar tissue, making it fuller and your skin tone more even. Like resurfacing, fat transfers pose a risk for infection. There is also a chance for excessive bleeding and nerve damage associated with the procedure.