When your skin is damaged from injury or surgery, your body works to heal the area by forming new collagen protein fibers known as a scar. The tissue that is formed has a different appearance, contour and consistency than your normal skin. For that reason, some patients make the decision to undergo scar revision procedures to improve the appearance of the scar. Before you take that step, you may be asking yourself, “Is scar revision surgery worth it?”
Different Interventions Can Produce Visible Improvements That Last
Depending on the location and severity of your scar, your doctor may employ one of several types of interventions. If your scar has left your skin bumpy, dermabrasion can flatten raised sections while injectable fillers can help to plump up recessed portions.
Surgical re-sculpting can actually change the shape of your scar to help it blend in better with the surrounding area. If your scar is too wide, it may be made thinner and more acceptable. A technique called tissue expansion can stretch out the surrounding “normal” skin. Once this is performed the old scar can be excised and the “extra” skin created by tissue expansion can be used to replace the unattractive scar. This way the unwanted scar is removed and replaced by normal skin.
A procedure called a “Z-plasty” can change the direction of your scar. This often helps to break up a straight-line scar making it look less obvious. Lasers can be used to blend in the scar by injuring the adjacent “normal” skin so that the color and texture mismatch between the adjacent normal skin and scar is less obvious.
Photorejuvenation can also be used to help blend a scar color mismatch. Your doctor can also use another technique to make the discoloration of scarring less noticeable. Using a device such as the ReLume can help increase the pigment within the scar making it less noticeable.
The Length of Your Recovery
How long it will take you to bounce back from scar revision surgery will depend on the invasiveness of the procedure. While some cosmetic strategies involve minimal to no recovery time and only leave you with minor redness, swelling and sun sensitivity, more involved operations may require up to a week or more of recovery time. You may also have stitches that need to be removed. Often to obtain optimal results a combination of the above treatments may be desired.
Scar Revision Surgery Isn’t Perfect
Only in rare cases can all of your scar be improved so that few will know you have a scar. However, this is possible. In general, the less obvious the scar is initially and combining treatment modalities, the greater the chance this will occur. Even then, the revision procedure itself will leave its own scarring that will need to be hidden in nearby folds or creases of your skin. The best way to think of scar revision surgery is that it minimizes the effects of scarring but does not erase them altogether as if nothing happened.
For most scars, the initial inflexibility and discoloration that is common with scarring will decrease with time. However, many patients choose to take surgical steps to further decrease the visual and functional effects of scarring.
Because every patient is unique, it is a wise idea to have a consultation with a knowledgeable, experienced plastic surgeon such as Dr. Kulick. During this meeting, you can explore all of your options and come to the decision that is best for you. In the end, only you and your physician can decide if the options provided are worthwhile for you.