Scars form nearly anytime the skin is broken or badly scraped. Scars are the signs that a wound has healed, so are an unavoidable consequence of surgery or an injury. The formation of scars is unpredictable, which can present a challenge. Wounds that do not heal optically may result in an unsightly, even disfiguring, scar. Some scars are recessed while others are raised. Some have a rough texture and some are discolored from surrounding tissue, making their appearance obvious. There are a few common ways to treat scars. When simple topical treatments like scar cream or silicone sheets do not work, a skilled physician can recommend appropriate clinical techniques.
What Is Scar Revision?
Scar revision is a treatment that is performed to reduce the visibility of a scar. This common procedure can be performed nearly anywhere on the body. It is done with the goal of making the scar look smoother and more consistent with surrounding tissue. If you are seeking scar treatment, consult with a qualified plastic surgeon who offers both non-surgical and surgical options.
Who Is A Good Candidate For A Scar Revision Procedure?
Patients of all ages may be good candidates for scar revision treatment provided that they are in good physical health. Patients should not smoke (or should be willing to quit for several weeks). Part of the consultation process for scar revision is to carefully examine the affected tissue and set realistic goals for treatment. Patients must understand that, while a scar may be significantly improved through appropriate treatment, some signs of scarring may persist indefinitely.
What Are My Treatment Options When It Comes To Scar Revision?
Scar revision may be achieved in a number of different ways. When topical treatments fail to achieve the desired outcome, a doctor may explore surface treatments or scar revision surgery. Surface treatments work by smoothing the surface of the skin. Some treatments may also reduce discoloration, making the scar blend in more harmoniously with the surrounding skin. Examples of surface treatments include dermabrasion, chemical peels, and laser or light therapies. Injectable dermal fillers are sometimes used to reduce the appearance of sunken scars. For more severe scarring, the doctor may inject a steroid solution to stimulate collagen remodeling that can refine the texture and size of raised scars.
Surgical repair may be needed for some types of scars. Dr. Leedy has extensive experience with advanced reconstructive procedures and has treated scars on the face, hands, and other areas of the body. Surgical scar revision may involve one of a few different techniques. Some improve the appearance of the skin while others restore the function of an area that has become restricted due to the formation of scar tissue. Examples of scar revision surgery include:
- Skin grafts or flaps. Grafting procedures involve the removal of healthy tissue from one area of the body and attaching it to the area that has developed scarring. Skin flaps are types of grafts that involve creating a flap of skin that sustains its own blood supply as one edge of the flap remains connected to its original location.
- Z-plasty surgery may be advisable for more severe scarring. This type of revision involves the creation of angled flaps of skin along the length of the scar. This zig-zag pattern can reduce scar tension and reposition tissue in such a way that the scar becomes much less visible.
- Tissue expansion. Some scars restrict the movement of an area of the body. In such cases, the skin near the site of the scar may need to be gently, gradually stretched to "grow" extra skin to cover the scar.
Is The Procedure Painful?
Nonsurgical scar revision treatments may feel slightly uncomfortable. Our team performs these treatments with extraordinary care for each patient. It is our goal to help our patients look and feel their best with minimal disruption to their peace of mind. When appropriate, we may use a local anesthetic that gets applied to the skin before various treatments. In general, most treatments are well-tolerated without any anesthetic or with the use of topical numbing cream. If you choose to undergo one of our non-surgical scar treatments, your provider will discuss what you can expect every step of the way. Surgical scar revision is performed using anesthesia as needed based on the complexity of the procedure.
What Types Of Anesthesia Are Used During The Procedure?
Surgical scar revision receives appropriate anesthesia depending on the extent of revision being done. Common pain management options for surgical scar repair include:
- Local anesthesia, administered via injections into the upper, then the lower layers of the skin.
- Regional anesthesia, delivered via an injection or IV line, blocks pain signals from the surgical area to the brain.
- General anesthesia, which involves IV anesthesia that puts the patient to sleep.
How Long Is The Recovery Period Following A Scar Revision Procedure?
Recovery after scar revision may look slightly different for every patient. It comes down to the type of treatment that is performed and the way in which the patient's body responds via collagen remodeling. Generally, patients need several days to recover after more intense scar revision treatment. Initially, the area may look worse. Patients may rely on prescription or over-the-counter painkillers for a few days to manage soreness and tenderness. For lighter scars that are treated nonsurgically, such as with dermal fillers, no downtime may be needed. Patients who visit Cleveland Plastic Surgery Institute can expect to receive very clear directions about their post-operative wound care and activity limitations.
Are The Results Immediate?
Several factors influence the timing of cosmetic results after scar treatment. Milder scars that are treated with dermal fillers may look better immediately after treatment. More significant scars that are treated with laser or light therapy or with surgery can take one to two weeks to begin making visible improvements. While the recovery from scar revision surgery may take one to two weeks, it may take months for the anticipated cosmetic outcome to reach an appreciable level.
Are There Any Risks Or Complications Associated?
Scar revision is not without risk no matter which clinical method is used. Even dermal filler injections carry a very low risk of infection simply because the skin is broken. Laser and light treatments carry the risk of causing hyperpigmentation. Surgical scar revision comes with the risk of infection, contour irregularities, changes in skin sensation, and poor aesthetic outcomes. All scar treatments could result in worse scarring in certain situations. Dr. Leedy is careful in his consultation and examination of scars so patients may achieve the very best cosmetic outcomes.
Is Scar Revision Covered By Insurance?
Scar revision is rarely covered by insurance. That said, patients whose scars inhibit the movement of the affected area or that cause persistent symptoms such as pain or itching should speak with our office or their insurance provider. In some situations of functional decline, it may be possible to obtain coverage for at least part of the cost of scar revision treatment.
Contact Cleveland Plastic Surgery Institute for Your Scar Revision Consultation
When you visit our Cleveland area plastic surgery office and medical spa, Dr. Leedy will thoroughly examine your scar and discuss all treatment options that are available to you. This may include non-surgical or surgical techniques or a combination of different therapies. After your consultation, you will be presented with all appropriate treatment choices so that you can make the most informed, confident decision based on your goals. We look forward to helping you eliminate troublesome scars. Contact our office at 440-340-3734 to schedule your initial consultation. We serve patients in Cleveland, Akron, Chagrin Falls, and nearby areas of Ohio.