Scars-whether they're caused by accidents or by surgery- are unpredictable. The way a scar develops depends as much on how
your body heals as it does on the original injury or on the surgeon's skills. Many variables can affect the severity of scarring, including the size and depth of the wound, the
blood supply to the area, the thickness and color of your skin, and the direction of the scar. How much the appearance of a scar bothers you is, of course, a personal matter.
While no scar can be removed completely, plastic surgeons can often improve the appearance of a scar, making it less obvious
through the injection or application of certain steroid medications or through surgical procedures known as scar revisions.
If you're considering scar revision, this will give you a basic understanding of the most common types of scars, the
procedures used to treat them, and the results you can expect. It can't answer all of your questions, since a lot depends on your individual circumstances. Please be sure to
ask your doctor if there is anything about the procedure you don't understand.
Making the decision
Many scars that appear large and unattractive at first may become less noticeable with time. Some can be treated with
steroids to relieve symptoms such as tenderness and itching. For these reasons, many plastic surgeons recommend waiting as long as a year or more after an injury or surgery
before you decide to have scar revision.
If you're bothered by a scar, your first step should be to consult a board-certified plastic surgeon. The surgeon will examine you and discuss the possible methods of treating your scar, the risks and benefits involved and the possible outcomes. Be frank in discussing your expectations with the surgeon, and make sure they're realistic. Don't hesitate to ask any questions or express any concerns you may have. Insurance usually doesn't cover cosmetic procedures. However, if scar revision is performed to minimize scarring from an injury or to improve your ability to function, it may be at least partially covered. Check your policy or call your carrier to be sure.
All surgery carries some uncertainty and risk
While scar revision is normally safe, there is always the possibility of complications. These may include infection, bleeding, a reaction to the anesthesia, or the recurrence of an unsightly scar.
You can reduce your risks by choosing a qualified plastic surgeon and closely following his or her advice, both before surgery and in follow-up care.
After scar revision
With any kind or scar revision, it's very important to follow your surgeon's instructions after surgery to make sure the wound heals properly. Although you may be up and about very quickly, your surgeon will advise you on gradually resuming your normal activities.
As you heal, keep in mind that no scar can be removed completely; the degree of improvement depends on the size and direction of your scar, the nature and quality of your skin, and how well you care for the wound after the operation. If your scar looks worse at first, don't panic-the final results of your surgery may not be apparent for a year or more.