Scarring can have a severe effect on both the physical and emotional well being of an individual. Getting rid of scar tissue used to require an expensive and invasive procedure performed by a plastic or cosmetic surgeon.
These days, other options are available to reduce the visible appearance of scars. Chief among these is the use of lasers to resurface the skin and to diminish scar tissue. It is however important to understand how laser scar removal works before signing up for the procedure.
First, you need to know that not all types of scarring are treated in the same way. Different types of laser treatments, depending on the depth of the scarring as well as the type of scar tissue, are used. For example, regular laser treatment can successfully reduce minor burn scarring whereas CO2 laser treatment is used for severe burn scars.
There are three types of scarring that you can be diagnosed with – keloid scars, hypertrophic scars and atrophic scars. Keloid scarring occurs when there is a build up of collagen during the healing process resulting in raised scar tissue that has a reddish-purple appearance.
Hypertrophic scarring is contained within the initial wound area. Although these scars are also slightly raised and reddish in color, they are not as dense or visible as keloid scarring.
Atrophic scarring is indented instead of raised. Normally this is as a result of a disease such as chicken pox or treat acne scars. Mole or wart removal can also leave this type of indented scar tissue.
While all three of these types of scar tissue can be treated with a laser, there are certain other factors that might eliminate you as a candidate. Some chronic medications are contra-indicated for laser treatment. Individuals with skin disorders such as eczema, acne, dermatitis or other conditions may also not be the best candidates.
In some cases, laser scar removal can take place once the skin condition clears up or if the individual stops taking their medication for a specified period of time.
Next you need to understand that laser treatment is not a once off procedure and repeat visits may be necessary to obtain the best results. The treatments can also be slightly painful and your treating physician will tell you that you may experience some discomfort. Cooling gels as well as a local anesthetic can be used to minimize this discomfort. In very severe cases, general anesthetic may be required to limit the stress on the patient.
Unless you have received general anesthetic, you should be able to leave the laser treatment center directly after the procedure has been completed and resume your normal activities. General anesthetic may require a few hours of recovery time or even an overnight stay for monitoring purposes.
The procedure can last anywhere from a few minutes to a maximum of 1 and 1/2 hours depending on the size of the scar, the depth of the scar and the type of scar tissue.
Laser treatment can also be harmful to your eyes. Make sure that your physician provides you with a pair of protective eye glasses that will prevent any harm being done by the beam.
The laser beam is very focused and releases pulses of light directly into the scar tissue which means that the surrounding healthy tissue cannot be harmed during the procedure. These pulses of light, or energy, basically remove a layer of skin containing the scar tissue exposing healthy skin layers that are contained beneath the scar tissue.
For deep scar tissue, laser treatment literally repairs the tissue from the inside out. The laser beam bypasses the outer layers of skin and targets the scar tissue contained in the lower regions. The removal of the underlying layer of skin then stimulates collagen production and the natural healing process. That is basically how laser scar removal works.
You should receive a list of aftercare procedures that you need to pay careful attention to. The treatment area needs to be treated with great care and sensitivity. It is important not to use any harsh soaps, cleansers or moisturizers.
You may be given a topical antibiotic cream to keep the area clean and free of infection. The treating physician could also apply a light bandage that you will be required to wear for a few days.
It is imperative to stay out of the sun and away from UV lighting for a few weeks following treatment as this could cause pigmentation changes. These pigmentation changes can appear in visibly lighter or darker spots and patches throughout the treatment area.
To ensure that laser treatment is successful, don’t just choose any laser treatment specialist. Take your time to do some research and find physicians who are experts in their field and have a good reputation. The professional you choose should be able to answer any further questions that you may have regarding how laser scar removal works.