What’s Behind the Knife: Insights on Scar Removal Surgery

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What’s Behind the Knife: Insights on Scar Removal Surgery

Being one of the most exposed organs of the body, your skin is one of the first things people see, but the skin is prone to scarring. Something as trivial as a tear could leave marks. Small cuts fade right away, but wounds from trauma or burning could lead to noticeable scars.

Scars that can be concealed with ease do not pose problems; however, it is a different matter if you have a scar in an area that is hard to hide. Scars like this could make you feel ashamed, and in some cases, scar removal surgery may be required.

scarFor most people with them, looking for a way to get rid of their scars is a main concern. Even a treatment that could, at least, change how the scar looks and make it less noticeable would be an option. It is good to know that there are many options that you can employ to address this problem.

Before diving into the list of procedures that could decrease a scar’s appearance, you need to understand what scars are, and how they happen.

How Scarring Happens: Causes and Concerns

Scars result from your body’s natural healing process. After an injury, say a cut, scarring happens. The scar that results could vary due to a number of factors, like the wound’s depth, location and size. It would also depend on your ethnic origin, age, sex and genetic makeup.

Understanding the Many Types of Scars

  • Acne Scars: These are scars that results from severe acne. There are various types of acne scars which would depend on the acne type that you had.
  • Contracture Scars: This scar results from burning. Since this scar makes skin tighter, it could impair your range of movement. The scar could also affect nerves and muscles depending on its depth.
  • Hypertrophic Scars: This scar is red and raised. This scar looks like keloids, but it doesn’t go beyond the injury’s boundary. Often, scars like this are treated with steroid injections to reduce soreness. Silicone sheet is also recommended to flatten this type of scar.
  • Keloid Scars: These scars go beyond the area of the original injury. These scars result from a healing process that is highly aggressive. Keloids are also common in dark-skinned people.

Nonsurgical Scar Revision Treatments: Solutions Sans the Stitches

injectionsYou can address your scars without the need for surgery. Some scar treatment options include:

  • Steroid injections: When you have raised scars such as hypertrophic or keloid scars, steroid injections are a treatment option. You can use this type of treatment alone or you can combine it with other treatment options for optimal results. 
  • Prescription or Over-the-Counter Cream, Gel or Ointments: Using these products is the first option if you have an injury, a wound or a cut that leads to scarring. For sensitive or itchy scars, antihistamine cream or steroids can be used as a treatment option. Your doctor may also suggest silicone gel sheeting or pressure treatment as preventive care or as a treatment option.

Filler injections: For pitted scars, there are doctors who may suggest a collagen injection. Using other fillers may also be recommended to decrease the scar’s appearance, but this solution is not permanent.

All About Surgical Scar Removal Surgery

If the scar does not respond to any of the above treatments, the doctor may suggest surgical scar removal. There are various surgical scar removal treatment options that you can use along with other procedures. Laser surgery, for instance, is often used to smoothen and lighten scars after performing a surgical procedure.

surgeryFor those who are thinking about having surgical scar removal surgery, it is best to allow a year to pass before you make a final decision. Most of the time scars will fade over time and they may become less obvious.

Some surgeons also discourage surgical procedures unless ample time has lapsed, especially when the scar results from an injury. Waiting for a year, at least, would allow the body to have enough time to heal from any injury.

Deep and Stubborn Scar Solutions: The Benefits of Surgical Scar Revision

For deeper scars, surgery is an option. Surgical procedures can improve the scar’s appearance by:

  • Improving range of movement by releasing tight scars located near a joint
  • Changing the scar’s position
  • Changing the scar’s shape width

The main benefit of removing scars is to make the scar less visible. In fact, most scars don’t go away, they only become less obvious.

Scars in prominent areas, such as the face, neck and hands could impair self-confidence. To some people, they could be a reminder of a tragic experience. In both of these cases, scar removal plays a vital role in building self-esteem and emotional recovery.

Are You a Good Candidate for Scar Removal Surgery?

As a rule, any person irrespective of age could go through scar removal surgery. This is a viable option for people who:

  • physically fitAre physically fit and don’t smoke.
  • Have scars in an area that doesn’t have active acne or any other type of skin disease.
  • Possess a scar that has been worrying them.
  • Are positive about undergoing scar removal surgery.
  • Have realistic goals.
  • Suffer from scars that impair their movement.

Scar Revision Procedures: Know All the Risks Involved

Just like any other procedure, scar removal treatment comes with risks. The risks related to scar removal surgery often depend on a number of factors, such as the patient’s health and the tissue area. The related risks differ depending on the procedure, but in general, your risks include:

  • Delayed healing and possible infections can happen.
  • You could suffer damage to the skin’s deeper structures including your lungs, nerves, muscles and blood vessels.
  • Hematoma, bleeding and persistent pain are possible.
  • Skin discoloration, contour irregularities and sensitivity.
  • Pulmonary and cardiac complications can also occur.

Specific risks involved can vary depending on the procedure involved. A more detailed discussion on the risks linked to each procedure is detailed on the next sections.

Always keep in mind that the decision to remove your scar is a personal decision and there will always be risks. In fact, you would also be asked to sign a consent form before the procedure. If you have any concerns, it would be best to ask your doctor.

Surgical Expenses: Breaking Down the Cost of Treating Scars

Surgical ExpensesThe total cost of scar removal surgery can vary widely. The cost could depend on where you live, as well as the procedure that needs to be done. In any kind of elective surgery, the cost is always a basic consideration and it includes:

  • Medical tests
  • Surgeon’s professional fees
  • Anesthesia fees
  • Cost of being admitted to a surgical or hospital facility
  • Medication
  • Post-surgery garments

The average cost of each procedure will be discussed in greater detail below.

Scar Removal Procedures: Know Your Options

Surgical scar removal is a catchall term that covers a wide array of procedures. The following outlines the most common procedures performed by surgeons to reduce the appearance of scars.

Dermabrasion for Serious Scarring

This technique involves getting rid of the skin’s upper layer in the area has been injured or wounded using a diamond wheel or a wire brush. Since the skin is scraped, the appearance of various flaws including scars, skin pigments, lesions and wrinkles become less visible. On average, this procedure costs $1,075.

Designed as an acne scar removal surgery, dermabrasion is also effective for traumatic and surgical scars. In both cases, this is best performed six to eight weeks after the injury. This surgical scar removal technique also yields hopeful results in treating burn scars and injuries.

dermabrasionDermabrasion-related infections and delayed healing are higher in patients with diabetes mellitus, bleeding disorders and immunosuppression. Plus, this procedure is not ideal for people with scars in freckled areas or areas with an excess facial skin. Pregnant or nursing women, those who are hepatitis C or HIV positive are not ideal surgery patients. The same goes for people with active herpetic lesions.

After the surgery, continued medication last up to 14 days after the procedure. Discoloration slowly fades from eight to 12 weeks after the procedure. In most patients, the best results can be seen after six months.

Surgical Excision for Old, Stubborn Scars

This procedure involves removing an old scar. In this procedure, the scar needs to be lengthened minimally. This procedure is often used in modifying scars that are depressed, wide and/or thick; hence, this is often applied to keloids and hypertrophic scars.

After excision, itchiness, swelling and pain may be observed in the area where the scar was located. One the greatest risk factors in this surgical procedure is that the scar appears again.

Success rate for surgical excision alone is only 28 percent, but success rate increases to 52 percent when used with steroid injections after the operation. The rate increases up to 75 percent when used with radiotherapy as assessed in the text Principles of Surgical Practice.

Based on an estimate in Real Self, a punch excision’s cost ranges from $250 to $750. This is the cost that is charged per scar.

Laser Surgery: The Gold Standard for Scar Removal

Laser scar removal surgery is deemed to be the gold standard in scar removal. Light pulses that target blood vessels in excess scar tissues helps reduce the scar’s redness. The skin’s top layer can be removed using laser which could collagen production.

Laser surgery
Photo by Etan J. Tal / CC BY-SA

Laser surgery could also serve as a stretch mark removal surgery. Needless to say, it can be used to remove other types of scars.

Laser surgery usually costs from $1,500 to $2,500 per session. The amount may be higher or lower depending on a number of factors such as the kind of scar and its location.

Just like any other surgical procedures, there are people who may not be ideal candidates for laser surgery. Laser surgery may not be the best scar removal procedure for those who are taking prescription medications. Anyone with immune system problems, dark skin or those who scar easily are not ideal candidates for this procedure.

The average healing time for this procedure is two weeks. By this time, a new skin later should have grown and the area which has been treated has fully healed. The skin may still look pink or red for weeks or even for months for some patients. For minor procedures, your recovery can be completed in just a week.

With laser surgery, there could be more than one treatment. But, the number of sessions would depend on how severe you skin condition is.

Skin Graft: Hope for Healing

This process involves using healthy skin from another area of the body which is not affected by scarring. This is done to replace the damaged or lost skin. This is also a process that is often performed on burn victims especially those who suffered from third degree burns.

Skin grafting is the best option when the part of the skin where the scar is in an area that has already lost its ability to heal. The total cost for this procedure could range from $4,000 up to $9,000. Cost tends to be higher when the skin is sourced from a donor.

a donorThe risks that can be linked to this surgical process are the same as with any other surgical process. If the skin is sourced from a donor, transmission of infections may be a risk. Failure of the graft is also a risk as blood could collects on injured tissues and forms. This is what is called as hematoma.

For those who undergo the skin grafting process, staying at the hospital for a week or two may be required. Moving the grafted area is inadvisable for the next three to six weeks. Supporting the graft by using stockings or bandages may be recommended for several months after the surgical process.

 

Which Scar Removal Surgical Treatment Is Best for You?

Given all this data, the real question would be which one is best for you? The answer to this question would depend highly on the type of scar that you have. The appearance, depth and many other factors are also a consideration.

Some treatment options are better than others depending on your scar. The best person to talk to is your doctor. Be sure to consider other options and more procedures that may be needed.

Preparing for Your Scar Removal Surgery Consultation

The success rate of any surgical removal procedure would depend on how honest you are with your doctor. While being assessed as a candidate for surgical removal, you will be asked many questions about your lifestyle, health and what you expect.

You should disclose any previous surgeries that you have undergone. You also need to disclose any medical treatment and condition, as well as drug allergies. If you are taking drugs, tobacco, alcohol, any supplement or medication, you also need to tell your doctor.consult your doctor

When you consult your doctor, your general health’s status would be assessed. They will also assess your scar. Pictures may be taken as part of your medical records. The options and treatment courses, as well as the potential risks and problems will also be discussed with you at this point.

Choosing Your Surgeon: What You Need to Look for in a Scar Revision Professional

In any kind of cosmetic surgery, it is vital to consider who would perform the procedure. If you are looking into surgical scar removal, you should make sure that your doctor:

  • Is a board certified cosmetic surgeon.
  • Has a high success rate in performing similar procedures.
  • Has a proven track record in his field.
  • Going to perform the procedure with a qualified anesthesiologist.
  • Is going to perform the procedure in an accredited facility.
  • Makes you feel at ease and knows your full medical history.

It is vital to keep in mind that the success of any surgical procedure would depend on the qualifications of the surgeon; hence, you need to assess the credentials of any doctor that you plan to consult.

What to Expect After Your Treatment

rednessAfter going under the knife, it is normal to feel a certain degree of distress. Swelling, redness and bruising in the area that has been operated on are to be expected after the surgery. Keep in mind that skin will take some time to heal, hence its appearance.

There is no need to be alarmed unless you are feeling an uncommon symptom as a consequence of surgery. It is always better to ask your doctor what you should feel, so you wouldn’t be alarmed afterwards.

In most cases, surgeons will recommend that you limit your physical activities at least for the first few days or weeks after the procedure. Should you feel any swelling, applying a cold compress can help to lower the inflammation. In the case of highly invasive treatments, it would also be ideal to keep your head propped up when you are lying down.

Tips to Make Recovering From Your Treatment Easier and Faster, Too

Recovery time depends on the kind of surgical scar treatment that you have gone through. It could range from weeks to months. At this stage, aftercare plays a vital role. You need to follow your doctor’s orders on the best thing to do to ensure that you will get the best results.

Take any medication that has been prescribed by your physician. It could help your skin heal faster. Also, be sure not to take any kind of medication without consulting your surgeon. There may be some drugs that you should not be taking.

In any kind of procedure, avoiding too much sun exposure is recommended. Apply sunscreen on the affected area especially when you go out. Certain creams that could relieve irritation or swelling may also be recommended.

Follow up checkups to monitor the healing process is also required in any type of scar revision surgery removal process. You should not be skipping these checkups so your doctor can address any problems that could arise right then and there.  If something bothers you after the surgery, you should ask your doctor about it right away.

Insurance Coverage: Help with Costs

health insuranceIf you have a scar that can impair your freedom of movement, the cost of getting rid of your scar may be covered by your health insurance. You may ask your doctor to explain your case in detail. Your physician may also be required to take pictures to document your case.

Of the surgical scar removal methods mentioned, skin grafting is the one which is often covered by insurance. The main reason for this is the fact that it is often performed on burn victims. In cases such as this, the procedure is vital to a patient’s physical recovery.

However, if the scar removal surgery is only for cosmetic reasons, it is not covered. It would be ideal to check with your health insurance provider and see if it is covered and if you are can get a refund.

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