Topical Scar Therapies
Among the preventative scar treatments mentioned, two are simple, consistently improve scars, and cost-effective:
1) Silicone – can be applied to the scar as a gel or as a sheet. Consistent application of silicone has been shown to improve scar texture, reduce color changes, and diminish scar height. Simply put, silicone therapy tends to result in a flatter, softer scar. Silicone also reduces the chances of developing a hypertrophic or keloid scar.
2) Taping – consistently apply tape to the scar (usually after sutures are removed) reduces tension on the newly formed scar. This technique has been shown to reduce the bulkiness of the scar and help prevent hypertrophic scars from developing.
Since it can be difficult to apply silicone and tape the same incision, a surgeon will typically recommend one of the two. This will depend on the location and size of the scar as well as surgeon preference. Either treatment often begins within 2-4 weeks after surgery and will need to be consistently performed for 2-4 months.
Scar therapy depends on the location, age, type, and size of the scar. Skin type and genetic factors may also be considered.
It is critical to keep in mind that scars take a year or more to full mature. Recently, there has been a stronger emphasis on treating the scar during this maturing time to optimize its final appearance. These treatments to control the scar while it is evolving include topical treatments, taping, injections, and lasers.
Keloid Scars – Hypertrophic
The type of scar one forms has a strong genetic component. As a result, poor scarring can result despite a surgeon’s best efforts. Certain areas of the body are more likely to form poor scars, such as the chest. We can generally classify poor scarring into 2 categories:
1) Keloid scars – large, raised scars where the scarring extends beyond the borders of the original injury and into the normal skin.
2) Hypertrophic scars – these scars are similar to keloids but less severe and do not spread into the surrounding normal skin.
Hypertrophic and keloid scars can result in symptoms such as tenderness or itching. In addition, their appearance is often considered unsightly and many people desire correction in order to make them less noticeable.
Embrace© is a unique technology developed by plastic surgeons at Stanford University that combines BOTH the hydrating effects of topical silicone therapy and the tension-relief of taping. This innovative dressing mechanically relieves any tension on the incision line and reduces pulling forces that may occur with movement. In addition, the portion of the dressing in contact with the scar contains 100% medical grade silicone. Multiple clinical studies have found embrace© reduces scar formation and decreases the risk of hypertrophic and keloid scars.