SECOND QUARTER 2000, VOLUME 14, NO 2

Surgical scar revision can help minimize scars

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Ethnic differences and facial plastic surgery

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Surgical scar revision can help minimize scars

A facial scar can be not only unsightly, but also emotionally taxing, a constant reminder of an old injury. Fortunately, much can be done to make a scar less visible.

Scars form whenever deep layers of skin are torn. They look worse initially, and can take from six months to two years to shrink and soften. Some, however, don’t improve with time. Those resulting from severe injuries, for example, may remain visible, and raised from the surface of the skin.

Others pucker the surrounding skin or are especially visible because of the way they cut across the contours of the face. Some even interfere with the normal function of facial features.

Scar revision surgery can improve the appearance of a scar. It won’t eliminate a scar, though. The goal is to make it less noticeable, by making it smaller, moving it to a place where it can be more easily hidden, or changing it so that it attracts less attention.

There are several techniques that a facial plastic surgeon can use to minimize a scar. One is to excise, or cut it out. For larger scars, it may be necessary to remove small sections over time. Several special techniques may be used to make scars blend more easily into the natural skin texture, or to smooth-out contracted skin surrounding a scar. Sometimes a surgeon resections a scar into tiny triangles that make it less visible.

Extensive scars from burns or severe injuries may require a flap, which is a section of healthy tissue that is placed over the damaged area.

Scar revision surgery may involve only one procedure, or a series of procedures over time. Surgical techniques may also be combined with other treatments, such as skin resurfacing, to achieve the best results.