It may have been a burn or a skin condition, a nasty fall or even the result of your first pregnancy, but we all wear scars.
Once the wound has clotted and we no longer feel as much pain, we give little thought to the minor injury until our scar is formed and noticeable yet the process with which this happens is fascinating and an example of the beautiful intricacy of our own bodies.
A scar is made when we damage our skin beyond its first layer, the dermis.
Our skin is made up of three layers; the epidermis, dermis and finally the hypodermis. It is injury to this middle layer which begins the process of healing and scar tissue formation, finally resulting in the visible ‘scar’ itself.
After the initial damage the body will begin to form blood clots to seal off the wound
When this has been done fibroblast cells are produced which help repair skin tissue and begin to break down the clots and produce proteins one of these primarily being Collagen which is what the scar tissue will consist of.
Despite being made of the same collagen, regular tissue and scar tissue appear different because of the formation the Collagen takes. In regular tissue the Collagen is arranged in random directions overlapping itself but in scar tissue all of the Collagen will be commonly pointing in the same direction. This results in a different texture to regular tissue as well as being less flexible. With the formation of this tissue there is also a subsequent lack of normal blood supply, sweat glands and hair.
The final appearance of a scar depends on factors such as the nature of the wound, severity of the puncture and even skin tone.. Wounds in areas where the skin is pulled tight may result in a larger scar as the body’s attempt to prevent it from opening up.
There are five primary scar formations:
Numerous treatments exist for scars ranging from massages and supplementary lotions to surgical procedures all with varying levels of invasiveness.
Collagen build up can be significantly reduced through regular massage with lotion or a gel prescribed by your doctor and is particularly recommended for those with the aforementioned Keloid scars.
Another option for Keloid formation is silicone sheets. Placed over the scar as you would a bandage, the sheets help flatten out scar tissue formation and although scientists have not been able to definitively identify the reason for this there is a theory that the increase in water around the scar results in continuous rehydration which in turn softens the tissue to a more pliable state therefore encouraging the flattening process.
Although effective over time and with some patience, these sheets have a reputation of falling short of the miracle results displayed in their advertisements but can reduce the appearance of your scars.
One of the more widely known treatments is dermabrasion. In this process, a doctor will use a specialised wand to remove the top layer of skin and allow the fresh, undamaged skin underneath to appear. This treatment can be effective for those with minor scars, surgical, acne or otherwise.
A slightly less invasive and popular option is steroid injections. Although they do improve the appearance and treatment of scars, the effects are very temporary and the obvious cost of such a treatment repeated over time adds to the impracticality of this method.
Although there are some scars which will eventually fade into the painful memory of how you got them, there is no way to remove them entirely. Treatments will increase healing and flattening but the damage has been done. As with all medical treatment, swift action with an effective remedy will offer you the most efficient and immediate results. The finest cure will always be prevention and making sure you stay safe is the best way to deal with getting scars.