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Get Scar Savvy

Article-Get Scar Savvy

Dr. Schlessinger

Define it!

A natural part of the healing process, a scar forms as a result of new collagen fibers that reconnect damaged skin and create a "seam," or scar. Your options for getting rid of that scar may depend on the type of scar you have:

> Atrophic or depressed scars have a sunken or pitted appearance. Acne is a frequent culprit.

> Hairline scars are thin, flat and easy to hide.

> Hypertrophic scars are firm, raised accumulations of tissue that develop from an overabundance of collagen production, and sometimes grow larger than the wound. These scars can also be painful.

> Keloid scars are larger-sized hypertrophic scars.

Prevent it!

The most important tip is prevention. For acne patients, a qualified dermatologist can put together an effective skincare regimen with specific products that will help to prevent acne scarring. One of the current methods for treating acne is blue light LED therapy (see Beauty Smarts, page 10).

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If you're at risk for developing hypertrophic or keloid scars, protective dressings, compression therapy and corticosteroid injections provided by your doctor may reduce that risk. Your doctor may recommend applying a product like ScarGuard to reduce your risk.

Another way to prevent? Ask your doctor about his or her suturing technique and strategies to minimize scarring before you undergo a surgical procedure.

Reduce it!

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During the healing phase, simple topical treatments (ScarGuard, KeloCote, Mederma) and steroid injections can help to minimize the unsightliness of a scar. Scarabrasion (either by laser or a fine-tip abrading brush) is helpful in the first six to eight weeks after a scar has formed. Lasers can improve scars to some degree. Red scars are treated with Intense Pulsed Light (IPL), but white scars or acne scars have very few options that result in a greater improvement than 25 percent to 50 percent. To reduce hypertrophic or keloid scars, steroid (cortisone) injections, steroid creams and tapes provided by your doctor may help. Plastic surgeons will often encourage you to wait because some scars improve with time, or they may eventually want to perform a scar revision procedure.

Hide it!

Have your dermatologist recommend a good makeup to conceal your scar. If it's a tummy tuck or c-section scar, consider innovative products that have entered the market such as ScarArt, a temporary tattoo, to mask those imperfections.

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