“The Healthy Geezer” answers questions about health and aging in his weekly column.
Question: I have a nasty-looking scar that shows only when I wear a bathing suit. I’d like to get rid of it, if possible. What’s available?
Answer: There is no procedure yet that will make a scar disappear completely. However, there are treatments to make a scar less noticeable. These include:
Surgical Scar Revision: This is a method of removing a scar and rejoining the normal skin. Wide scars can often be made thinner. Long scars can be made shorter. Using broken-line incisions can make scars harder to notice. Sometimes, a surgeon can hide a scar by redirecting it into a wrinkle or a hairline.
Dermabrasion: A surgeon uses an electrical dermabrasion machine to remove the top layers of skin. This process gives the skin a smoother surface. Dermabrasion is used for treating acne scars, pockmarks, some surgical scars, or minor irregularities.
Laser Scar Revision: Another method of improving scars is laser scar revision. High-energy light is used to treat damaged skin. Different lasers are available for treating a variety of scars. For example, a pulsed dye laser uses yellow light to remove scar redness and to flatten raised scars (hypertrophic scars or keloids).
Soft Tissue Fillers: There are injectable substances such as fat, collagen and hyaluronic acid, that are used to treat indented soft scars.
Punch Grafts: Punch grafts are small pieces of normal skin used to replace scarred skin. A tiny circular cutter is used to cut a hole in the skin and remove the scar. The area is then filled in with a matching piece of unscarred skin.
Chemical Peels: This procedure uses a chemical to remove the top layer of the skin and smooth depressed scars. It is most helpful for superficial scars.
Pressure bandages and massages: These can both flatten some scars if used on a regularly for several months.
Silicone gels: Silicone-impregnated gels can be used at home to remodel elevated scars. They must also be used regularly.
Cryosurgery: This technique freezes upper skin layers and causes blistering of the skin to remove the excess tissue at the scar.
Cortisone injections: These are effective in shrinking and flattening very firm scars. This treatment is popular for hypertrophic scars and keloids.
Interferon: This is a chemical that is injected into the scar. It may improve the appearance of a scar.
Cosmetics: Make-up applied correctly can be very good at covering up scars.
If you would like to read more columns, you can order a copy of “How to be a Healthy Geezer” at www.healthygeezer.com.
All rights reserved © 2012 by Fred Cicetti
Maria is our expert for medicine, fitness and general health. Her contributions are particularly convincing through completeness, accuracy and her own personal experience. Maria also writes for other health magazines, which has enabled her to build up her expert status.