Scarring can have an emotional impact on those affected—lowering self-esteem and confidence—but fortunately advancements in medical technology have made it possible to diminish the look of scars. Although scar revision will not eliminate the scar entirely, in most cases it will make a noticeable improvement. Here at Boulder Plastic Surgery, we offer a variety of treatments to diminish scars, including:
- Laser Scar Reduction: Broad Band Light, or BBL/IPL, can gradually lighten the redness of new scars. This scar revision treatment uses low-frequency photothermal energy to eventually cause the scar to appear less bulky and red.
- Scar Reduction Surgery: Existing scars can be re-excised using a variety of techniques to minimize the visibility of the final scar. After revision, the scar will again have to go through a 12-24 month maturation period, but these techniques leave a scar that is less apparent.
- Scar Reduction Creams, Injections, Therapy: Sometimes, the most conservative methods of treatment may be the most effective. Simply injecting cortisone drugs, applying them topically, or using a special kind of tape can eliminate the need for surgery.
About the Procedure
- Length: 15 minutes to 1 hour
- Anesthesia: Local outpatient/usually office surgery
- Side Effects: Swelling, bruising, prominent scarring (requiring further surgery)
- Risk: Bleeding, infection, poor healing (ALL RARE)
- Duration of Results: Usually permanent, unless recurrence
- Bandages Worn: 24 to 48 hours
- Pain Meds: Ibuprofen
- Recovery: Cold pack for 24 to 48 hours. Wound care for 5 days. Full activity in less than one week.
Laser Scar Reduction: BBL and IPL Laser Treatment
When it comes to scar revision, there is a difference between traditional laser treatments and the more advanced BBL/IPL laser treatments. These devices use a flash lamp that is able to produce light energy with many wavelengths simultaneously. BBL and IPL devices also provide doctors with several different power outputs.
BBL and IPL are methods of scar treatment that are nonsurgical and noninvasive. Highly concentrated beams of light penetrate the top layers of skin to target redness and blood vessels, which helps to alter the process of scar formation and reduce scar visibility, during the actual healing process.
Acne Scar Reduction
Acne is one of the most common skin conditions that people endure. Many patients are worried about how to treat acne as well as what to do if acne scars occur. Due to advancements in medical technology, there are several safe and effective treatments for reducing acne scars and controlling active acne. These different therapies include:
- MicroLaser Peel: This form of laser acne scar reduction eliminates the outermost layers of acne scars as well as the surrounding tissue so that it can eventually be replaced by healthier skin.
- Profractional: Another type of laser acne scar reduction, this laser stimulates the production of collagen to help smooth out the scar and plump the skin.
- BBL: This form of treatment can not only decrease the appearance of acne scars, but also treat active acne. To treat active acne, pulsed infrared light energy is used to minimize the amount of oil secretions that produce acne. For removing acne scars, redness is reduced and collagen production is stimulated with this specific type of intense pulsed light therapy.
Combining these treatments gives us a powerful method of options to treat a sometimes difficult condition.
Stretch Mark Reduction
Having a baby or rapidly gaining weight can cause a variety of physical changes, one of which is stretch marks. Stretch marks are caused when the body grows faster than the skin is able to keep up with. Many people become self-conscious of their stretch marks, and there is no stretch mark cream that can prevent them from happening or make them completely disappear afterward. Stretch marks are actually scars within the dermis which are permanent. Surgical removal is the only way to completely remove stretch marks. However, there are laser stretch mark reduction treatments available that can reduce their visibility.
BBL can be quite useful for stretch marks that are red and obvious. The intense light can reduce the pigmentation in most cases. If they are treated when they first appear, BBL may be able to minimize their appearance in the future. With this form of treatment, blood vessels are targeted and shrunk, which helps to alter the process of scar formation. While the actual stretch marks will remain, their appearance can be minimized.
Scar Reduction Surgery
There are several different surgical procedures that may improve the appearance of scars. Depending on each individual case, one of the following may be considered.
- Re-Excision: To improve the look of some scars, all that may be required is a simple excision and re-closure of the wound. If the original cut was jagged and uneven, this procedure can transform it into a clean surgical incision.
- Serial Excision: For patients with scarring that is wide or extensive, one operation may not be adequate. A planned, staged approach may be necessary where several operations are used for optimal results. To help this type of reconstruction go more smoothly, doctors may use a tissue expander.
- Zig-Zag or “Z” Plasty: With this technique, a scar is excised and the line is replaced with one that is geometric and broken. This broken line scar is not only less apparent, but the wound will also heal with less tension. This procedure is one of the most common and most effective forms of treatment for facial scars that are tight and thick.
Scar Reduction Surgery Recovery
As part of the post-surgical healing process, some mandatory down time is required. Collagen will be laid down for the first 6-8 weeks and then remodelled over the next 18 months.
In the early postoperative recovery phase, massage, movement, stretching, and participating in normal activities is encouraged. Following the initial burst of high energy healing, the wound reaches a maturation phase where the scar thins and becomes less red. Over the course of 6 to 24 months, the scar tissue will mature further and stabilize. These long-term changes will happen more slowly and will be less evident than the changes that occurred in the first 6 to 8 weeks.
Additional Scar Reduction Treatments
- Pressure and Massage: For some patients, conservative forms of therapy may be the best possible option. The use of a special pressure dressing may be an effective form of treatment, and the appearance of scars can also be improved with simple creams and gels.
- Cortisone Drugs: Cortisone drugs may be able to improve the look of a scar to the point where surgery is not necessary. These cortisone drugs may be injected, applied topically, or included as part of a special tape.
- Hyaluronic Filler: With this form of treatment, a hyaluronic filler is injected into the scar, which is especially helpful for treating depressed scars. For some patients, the scar may flatten and be nearly imperceptible. This treatment is not permanent and will have to be repeated every 4 to 12 months.
- Silicone Pressure Therapy: To soften or thin out a scar, a silicone dressing may be applied. This treatment is safe and simple and has demonstrated proven results. A silicon sheet is cut to size and placed on a scar for anywhere between 12 and 24 hours a day. Effects are gradual, and are typically seen within a few weeks to a few months. Silicon tape is also an effective early preventative treatment for “fresh” scars (those that are in the first 2-3 months of healing)
Scar Reduction Cost
The price for scar reduction can vary depending on the type of procedure and the severity of the scar. Typically, the price can range from $250 to $2500. If you would like to learn more about scar revision, be sure to schedule a consultation at Boulder Plastic Surgery. At this initial meeting, your specific case will be discussed and our doctors will address any questions or concerns you may have.
“Thank you for taking such concern and care for me — I’m very pleased with my results. You listen to the patient and that means a lot. Your staff is wonderful and everyone made my surgery go smoothly. I had very little pain or discomfort and attribute this to post-op plan and your fantastic skills. I appreciate you very much!” – KM
“Thank you for working so quickly to get my surgery scheduled. Your staff is very professional and well organized–a rarity these days. And, thank you again for seeing me on such short notice.” – DG
“Oh by the way, you do great work!”