No two scars are alike, yet they all share something in common: Every scar feels like it’s overstayed its welcome.
How do you get rid of them, then? To answer that, I need to explain first what a scar is, exactly.
Scars are evaluated by their size, location, and texture. Scar tissue is made of collagen, a tough, fibrous protein. When the tissue forms, it can appear red and raised and feel hard, but with time, it usually fades, flattens, and softens.
Almost every kind of cut results in a scar, but we don’t all form scars the same way. A keloid, for example, occurs when the skin creates an excessive amount of collagen while it heals and the scar tissue grows beyond the boundaries of the original wound, creating a puffy, round protrusion.
It’s thought that genetics may play some role in keloids, but it’s still not understood why some form them and others don’t.
Stretch marks are their own kind of scar. We know what they form: as a result of the skin expanding quickly during pregnancy, weight gain, and growth spurts. They also sometimes crop up when a wound’s near an elbow or a knee.
Now that we have an idea of what a scar is, let’s get into how we can treat them.
Beneath the surface
At first glance, it looks like there’s no shortage of remedies for stretch marks. But here’s the thing: A recent meta-analysis (a study of a bunch of studies) found that over-the-counter topical skincare products are ineffective at preventing and reducing stretch marks.
But, really, that’s only confirming what we’ve long suspected. Stretch marks occur deep in the dermal layer of the skin, so moisturizers and oils were never going to have an impact.
The good news: retinol sprays and creams, which contain 0.1 percent tretinoin, better known by its brand name, Retin-A, do penetrate the upper layer of the skin and rebuilds collagen. They’re available only by prescription, and not everyone seems to benefit to the same degree, but those who’ve responded the best have had new stretch marks. So, if you’re considering it, seek treatment sooner rather than later.
Sculptra Aesthetic, a dermal filler, works in a similar way, gradually rebuilding collagen at the dermal layer of the skin. It’s made from a biocompatible, biodegradable, synthetic material called poly-L-lactic-acid, which is gradually and naturally absorbed by the body during a series of treatments.
A one-two punch
One of the most effective treatments for keloids is Botox used in combination with laser therapy.
The Botox temporarily halts the excess collagen production. But in doing so, it can cause the skin or surrounding fat to atrophy, which leads to indentations around the site of the injection. So, a laser’s used to create channels in the skin, which will allow the Botox to penetrate the skin evenly.
The laser also reorganizes the collagen fibers, which helps to smooth and flatten the keloid.