How To Reduce Scar Redness

layers in the human skin

After a wound has healed the scar is commonly red and in some cases raised. This is a normal phase of the skin’s recovery process and most scars will turn into a more skin-like color eventually.

Read on to find out how to reduce this scar redness how smoothen it, and how to prevent the scar from becoming raised. The advice given here is based on my experiences and on clinical trials and studies. Only proven treatments are recommended and some myths are debunked.

How To Reduce Scar Redness

The best remedy are silicone scar treatment sheets and in lesser amount (liquid) gels. These products are the golden standard in scar treatment.

Originally used by burn centers and later on cosmetic surgeons and hospitals, silicone sheeting is a clinically proven, effective over the counter treatment for red and raised scars.

Reduce Scar Redness with Silicone Patches

the best product to fade scar redness

I have used these patches myself on several types of scars. Mostly surgical and scars from cuts. These patches have to be applied daily for a minimum of 12 to 14 hours (preferably up to 24 hours) and this for several weeks at least.

For the optimal result a treatment of months may be needed. This may seem cumbersome (and to be honest, at times it is) but the sheets do actually work. My scars did improve and the redness was already reduced considerably after a few weeks.

Causes of Scar Redness

scar erythema

Scars can be red, itchy, elevated, indented, firm, contracting and even growing out of the original wound boundaries. Many red scars are so called hypertrophic scars. More on this type later.

Especially surgical scars can be red (erythematous) This has partially to do with the depth of a surgical incision.

How does a scar get red?

layers in the human skin

scar redness occurs when the dermis (the deep, thick layer of skin) is damaged

Initially, all scars are red. This is due to the healing process which involves the creation of new tissue and cells. In order to do so the body forms extra blood vessels which purpose is to support this new scar tissue. There is also an increased blood flow to aid this process which also adds to the red color.

How long will scars stay red?

This will take from about 9 months till up to 18 months. Scars in children tend to stay red for a longer period. It also depends on skin type, genetics, race, life style, and other factors.

How to reduce the red color of scars quickly?

Well, the answer is that it depends on what your definition of quick is. It can be done in a few weeks but this depends on various factors such as location on the body, skin type, general health, genetics, whether or not someone smokes tobacco, and more.

Clinical trial shows scar redness fades on average at 7 months.

Silicone Patches and Gels Reduce Scar Redness

silicone scar sheet

silicone scar sheet

Several studies have shown this to be the most effective product to use on red scars. (works also relatively well on other types such as keloids, burn and other raised scars)

The patches decrease the scar’s visibility by reducing the redness and thickness making it more skin color, flat and soft. They induce a decrease of redness and pain or itch almost immediately. This over the counter treatment often works whereas other conventional therapies do not.

“86% to 94% of scars treated with silicone sheets improved in appearance and elasticity within two months, compared with only 12% of untreated scars.

At two months and six months, the skin of the treated scars was significantly more extensible than the untreated scars.”

(Burns-1994 – Carney S.A. et el)

Reduce Scar Redness Tips

DIY Treatment

Here are some tips on how to reduce the redness of your scar and how to avoid it becoming even more red.

  • Keep the scar out of the sun at all times. Newly formed scars are very sensitive to sunlight. Sunlight radiation will make the scar more red and is also in other ways detrimental to its appearance. Use a sunscreen of minimal SPF 30 and cover the scar as much as possible by clothing or plasters. Keep in mind that many clothes do not provide much protection against sunshine. A simple white cotton t-shirt only has a SPF of 10 or less.
  • Massage the scar. Only when the wound has closed completely and always gently and carefully.
  • Keep the scar warm
  • Hydrate the scar. Internally by drinking enough and externally by using a petroleum based emollient (Vaseline)
  • Use silicone gel patches or creams. (creams are less effective than patches)

If you have a new scar it’s understandable you are searching for a quick fix. You have to deal with an unwanted, disfiguring part of your body that wasn’t there before.

But reducing scar redness quickly isn’t possible. It will at least take a few weeks and possibly longer. So keep in mind to be patient and with the right measures the scar’s appearance will be reduced.

Redness of most scars will fade over time but not always. Treatment can be beneficiary in some cases.

Wound Healing

avoid inflammation

Making sure a wound heals optimally is one of the most effective ways to prevent and control scarring.

Hippocrates (c 400 BC) already recognized the importance of taking active care of a wound. He adviced:

 “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”

Prolonged or excessive wound inflammation might result in raised, thick, red scars. Studies indicate that inflammation may delay healing and result in increased scarring. (you can recognize inflammation when a the surrounding skin of a wound is red and elevated.)

there is substantial evidence that inflammation is an essential prerequisite for scarring

Inflammation can be prevented or at least kept at bay by keeping wounds in a moist and sterile environment. Research has shown this to be the most advantageous circumstances.

Scar Tissue and Sunscreen

why protect scars from direct sunlight

Fresh scars (up to 18 months) are susceptible to damage from ultraviolet radiation present in sunlight. The collagen structure can be altered and increased, elastin hardened and hyperpigmentation will occur.

In other words, not protecting your new scar from the sun might lead to a more discolored (red and eventually even purple) as well as a thicker and harder scar.

Sunscreen or sun block creams protect scar tissue from ultraviolet radiation.

Scar Massage and Redness

massage carefully and regularly

scar massage helps reduce scar redness

scar massage helps reduce scar redness

There are several scar massage techniques known to reduce scars. Important is to always apply gentle pressure and massage very carefully. When the scar tissue gets more red than before massaging it is recommended to stop the massage.

I liked to use an ointment when massaging my scars because it made it less uncomfortable. It depends on the person as well as the type of wound and scar but my scars did hurt when touched.

For some parts, especially the part of the scar on the middle of my chest, this discomfortable feeling maintained up to more than a year after surgery. By using a cream or lotion the process of massaging feels smoother, the tissue tends to get red less quickly and you also hydrate the tissue which seems to be an important factor in scar reduction.

Scar Hydration

studies show Vaseline to be an effective moisturizer

Among the few measures known to aid in reducing scar redness and improving its overall appearance is scar hydration.

Although many products are claimed to be the most effective moisturizers research has shown petrolatum based ointments (e.g. Vaseline) to be the most affordable option.

Studies show moisturizing scars helps decreasing itching, pain, and contraction.

…..as a result, it is to be expected that moisturizers may improve the signs and symptoms of scars.

several studies are reported in this review that demonstrates that moisturization is a key component to reducing the clinical signs and symptoms of scars and striae.

 

Scar Hydration With Manuka Honey Dressings

Medihoney alginate wound dressing

Medihoney wound dressing

If there’s one natural remedy which skin care benefits can’t be overstated it’s manuka honey. Much research on its unique abilities has been done the past decades and is still ongoing.

Extremely problematic wounds such as those infected with the nearly unbeatable MRSA bacteria are cured with this honey. Treating these wounds with manuka honey has two benefits.

  • it helps to kill MRSA and other superbugs,
  • it can also prevent bacteria from becoming resistant to antibiotics.

Professor Liz Harry, of University of Technology Sydney, said:

 ‘Manuka honey should be used as a first resort for wound treatment, rather than the last resort, as it so often is.’

Apart from that it has very potent hydrating properties. It is not a proven effective scar redness remedy but it does enhance wound healing and experts suspect it may help scar healing. Since it has such potent hydrating properties it is likely to help reduce scar redness.

Manuka honey boosts wound healing and may possibly aid scar improvement as well.

Keep Scars Warm to Reduce Redness

increased temperature reduces scars

Originally this was concluded after researching pressure therapy. Directly after wound closure pressure garments are applied to the scar.

It is thought the pressure decreases blood flow in the tissue among other effects. One of these effects is the increase in scar tissue temperature due to the tight garment weave.

This increased temperature, even by 1°C, will significantly increase collagenolysis and scar maturation studies have shown. Thus the use of for example heating packs or paraffin are considered a useful treatment modality.

Pressure therapy in general shows to be effective but not as effective as the use of silicone gel dressings. Source:rehabpup

Reduce Scar Redness with Zinc Tape

or cream?

zinc tapeA 1982 study among 41 persons reported a reduction of scar redness using adhesive zinc tape in all patients.

Keloid and hypertrophic scars from 23 of the 41 patients turned out to be “reduced to the level of the surrounding skin”. Also itch was decreased in all patients who complained about itch and had disappeared completely in half of them.

Zinc is known to stimulate the process that reduces excessive scar tissue growth. (collagenase)

I’m not sure about cream. It seems to me it has the same action as zinc tape but zinc also has a moisture repelling action. So I am not sure if this interferes with scar hydration which is known to be a beneficial scar reduction factor. Also tape has a function itself. Paper tape for instance is used to reduce tension on the fresh scar thus preventing scar widening.

The Hypertrophic Scar

red, elevated and sometimes painful

Some scars will fade eventually and become a thin white line. This is not always the case. Many people tend to develop problematic scars. Whether someone is prone to this depends on race, (dark skinned people have a higher risk on hypertrophic scarring), genetics, life style and habits, and the location on the body.

Hypertrophic scars usually start to appear 4 to 8 weeks after wound closure.They are results of overproduction of scar tissue. Hypertrophic scars are most likely to develop in case of deep wounds (such as surgery wounds) and burns. (source)

The center of the chest, where I had a hypertrophic scar a few years ago, is a very delicate part of the skin which needs extra care in order to prevent problems.

Hypertrophic scars are elevated and can take the form of a red raised lump on the skin. They do not grow beyond the boundaries of the original wound such as keloids and their appearance often improves after a few years. Hypertrophic scars can sometimes cause contracture. This can lead to limited movement and can be painful.

You could say hypertrophic scars are the opposite of atrophic scars which are indented / depressed.

The Keloid Scar

benign expanding scar tissue

Keloids are non malignant tumor type scars growing out of the original boundaries of the wound area. They are caused because the body does not stop creating scar tissue. Keloids are hard, raised and permanently red. Although they are not dangerous they are perceived as unsightly by many. Treatment can exist of silicone patches but if these don’t work (in the more extreme cases) other measures can be taken. More about this later.

Hypertrophic vs Hyperpigmented Scars

Hypertrophic scars are red, raised, bumpy, and may cause pain or itch. Hyperpigmented scars are not necessarily red but more often dark colored. E.g. brown or other tints. The latter have another cause which results in overproduction of melanin (skin pigment).

In order to define the optimal mode of treatment it is wise to make a distinction between these two types. Here’s more info on thethe best cream for scar lightening based on whether a scar is hypertrophic or hyperpigmented.

It takes about 12 to 18 months for a scar to mature. This means it is in its final state and will probably have become less noticeable.

Scar Redness will Fade in Time

two phases of natural scar healing

The natural, the body’s own, scar healing process consists of two stadia. The immature and mature phase

The immature phase starts directly after a wound has closed. At this point it is no more a wound but a scar. During this period a scar will evolve. Many scars improve naturally while others tend to worsen. They might get sensitive, itchy or painful. New scars are commonly red but can also be thickened, raised and hard.

When a scar is in its final state, which means it has stopped evolving and collagen production has ended it is considered a mature scar. It will take up to 18 months for a scar to get mature although for smaller, less severe scars this will be a shorter period.

Does Mederma Help Reduce the Redness of my Scar?

onion extract creams not effective

Conclusion of several studies have shown hydration of scars to be an important factor in reducing redness and improving overall appearance. This can be achieved with topical petrolatum-based ointment such as Vaseline.

There seems to be no need for dedicated (mostly more expensive) scar ointments. So although Mederma is a very popular cream for scar treatment its efficacy isn’t backed by substantial clinical evidence.

“no statistically significant difference between pre- and posttreatment evaluations of scar erythema and pruritus in patients using topical onion extract gel was found. A statistically significant reduction in scar erythema was found in patients using a petrolatum based ointment.” source:Wiley Interscience

One study on rabbits showed some benefits of onion extract on scars. A report of this study can be found here.

Can Vitamin E Help Reduce the Redness of your Scar?

topical vitamin E can cause allergic reactions

Of the different studies conducted on vitamin e and scar redness none have shown efficacy. In fact dermatologists and other medical personnel discourage this home remedy because the same studies did show the topical use of vitamin e capsules did in fact cause skin irritations such as a so called generalized erythema multiforme reaction. (redness, itch and rash)

The Best Cream For Scar Redness

reduce scar redness with silicone cream

I have used both silicone patches and gels. Some studies state that patches are more effective while others say that ointments are just as good. For locations on which patches are hard to keep in place such as the face I would use a cream such as Kelo-cote. For other locations I would personally choose patches, just to be sure.

Kelo-cote is probably the most well-known, very well reviewed silicone cream. After application the gel dries and forms a thin film which covers the scar tissue.

Best Cream To Fade Dark Scars

Invicible

Although I haven’t used this cream myself I think InviCible Scars is the best cream to fade dark scars. Invicible scar cream is fairly new but already awarded for its efficacy and safety of use.

It contains proven effective, safe ingredients such as stable vitamin C and licorice extract. Apart from that it also contains silicones which is another proven effective scar reducing agent.

For raised, red scars I recommend silicones. For dark, red, or otherwise discolored scars I recommend Invicible.

 

Image skin layers: Wikimedia Commons.

Posted in General Info, Red Raised Scars | Tagged | 2 Comments

Does Glycolic Acid Peel Treatment for Acne Scars Work?

Alpha Hydroxy Glycolic Acid peel
Alpha Hydroxy Glycolic Acid peel

Alpha Hydroxy 10% Glycolic Acid peel

Using a glycolic acid peel to treat acne and acne scars is a very effective method which is often done in high end day spas, but can also be applied in your home.  Several studies (see below) indicate this treatment actually works.

How Does It Work?

These treatments work by helping to stimulate new skin cells, and also encouraging increased collagen production in the skin.

This process then eliminates the old, scarred skin which will both help prevent new acne from forming and also reduce the appearance of old acne scars.

Which Strength Do You Need?

People new to glycolic acid peels will want to start out with a product which is around 10% acidity, which can be purchased from most drug stores, or applied by a professional at a day spa.

Once your skin is used to this level (typically after just two or three uses) you can gradually move up to stronger products based on your need. For particularly bad cases of acne scars doctors can use products which are up to 70% acidic.

Most people will not need anything near that strength and it is often considered better to just use a lower dose like 50% for longer than to get something to strong which could cause the skin to become painful.

For many people it takes several treatments to find the perfect strength which will be most effective without causing pain and discomfort.  Most people can tolerate higher levels as their skin gets used to the process so it can be fine tuned over time to get maximum results.

How Long Will Recovery Take?

Glycolic acid peels are very popular because, if applied correctly, there is little recovery time needed.  For most people there is very little irritation or blistering on the skin and there are visible results quite quickly.

While full results may not be completed for months or even longer, it is a gradual process with steady improvement.

As your skin begins the process of replacing the old, scared skin with new skin the scars will appear lighter and lighter over time.  Any bumps or craters in the skin will slowly fade as well.

Most products will include moisturizers in them as well so they are not only encouraging the new skin to eliminate the scars but also helping the new and existing skin to be much healthier.

Does It Hurt?

This whole process is typically a pleasant experience since there is normally very little pain or discomfort associated with it as long as it is done correctly.  Some people who try to jump right to a very strong product may experience burning or redness.

But if you follow the recommended process or allow a trained cosmetologists to do the treatment for them they will almost certainly be very satisfied with the results and experience little if any discomfort.

Which Brand Should I Choose?

As long as the expectations are reasonable, most people are very satisfied with the results of glycolic acid peels for acne scars.  It is not an overnight fix for complete elimination of all acne and acne scars but it does work quite well and allows people to have a very safe and effective way to get rid of the unsightly acne scars.

A best seller among 10% glycolic acid peels is Alpha Hydrox Enhanced Lotion 10 percent Glycolic AHA — 6 fl oz

Make sure to apply sunscreen because glycolic acid peels make your skin more sensitive.

But Does Glycolic Acid Peel Treatment for Acne Scars Really Work?

Let’s have a look at what clinical studies have to say.

There have been a number of reputable and professional academic studies carried out around the world over a significant period of time, which are free from bias – and therefore it is perfectly possible to be able to validate the claims that have been made.

 

To take one example, the March 1999 edition of the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology published a report, by Cagliari University in Italy, which specifically set out to answer our important question. Here is a brief synopsis and the conclusion of the report:

  • 80 women, aged 13–40 years, were selected for the study – 32 had comedonic acne, 40 had papulo-pustolar acne and 8 had nodule-cystic acne
  • The chemical peels were performed with a 70% glycolic acid solution, for times that varied in a range between 2 and 8 minutes, depending on the intensity of the clinical response.
  • The most rapid improvement was observed in comedonic acne; the papulo-pustular acne needed an average of six applications and nodular-cystic forms needed eight to ten.
  • A significant, painless improvement of the post-acne superficial scarring was noted
  • Conclusion – the peels are an effective treatment for all types of acne scarring, resulting rapid improvement and restoration to normal looking skin.

 

The January 1997 edition of the Journal of Dermatological Surgery contains a ethnocentric test on acne-related issues:

  • 40 Asian candidates were treated with four series of 15%, 35% and 50% glycolic acid peels.
  • Consistent and repetitive treatment with glycolic acid was needed for the apparent improvement of acne scars and cystic lesions.
  • Only small percentage of patients (5.6%) developed side effects.

 

The January 1994 edition of the Journal of Dermatologic Surgery and Oncology also reports impressive results:

  • Without other skin preparation, 70% glycolic acid was applied to the entire face and diluted with water after 2 minutes.
  • Biopsies were done on selected patients after 24 hours and 30, 60, and 90 days.
  • Although the peel resulted in medium depth injury, improvement in pigmentary dyschromias and actinic damage was impressive.

 

Finally, a more recent study was published in the January 2009 edition of the Journal of Dermatological Surgery which produced some interesting results; they illustrate that there are alternative treatments available which may give even better results than glycolic acid peels. Especially when treating active acne instead of acne scars.

  • Forty-four patients with facial acne and post-acne scarring and hyperpigmentation were divided into two groups, with one receiving 35% Glycolic Acid peels and the other 20% salicylic/10% mandelic acid peels (SMPs) every two weeks for six sessions.
  • The conclusion was that both the agents were effective, but SMPs had a higher efficacy for most active acne lesions (p<.001) and hyperpigmentation (p<.001).
  • Side effects were also lesser with SMPs.

The full reports noted above are searchable online if any further scrutiny is required.

References

Glycolic acid peeling in the treatment of acne – Wiley Online Library.

The Effect of Glycolic Acid on the Treatment of Acne in Asian Skin – Wiley Online Library.

Posted in Acne Scars | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Best C-Section Scar Treatment

c section scar
c section scar

c section scar

The best C-section scar treatment consists of a few things one can do. Read on to learn about which options will help your scar heal quickly.

C-section scars are very common among women because the caesarean section is the most commonly performed surgery in the United States.

A C-section delivery can be daunting both physical and emotional. The period direct after this surgery is generally very hectic. There’s the care of the newborn child, lots of social activity, and recovery of the surgery. In these hectic times the treatment of the c-section scar might get passed up.

Here’s an overview of which options are available on treating your c-section scar optimally. From effective scar treatment, how to reduce scar pain, to abdominal binders and massage after c-section.

The C-Section Scar

The c section scar is the result of the vertical incision made during the surgical procedure and is approximately 4-6 inches long. How wide it is depends on how well it is treated, how much tension will be on the wound and scar tissue, someone’s lifestyle, genetics, and the wound healing process.

The scar is most commonly located on the lowest part of the tummy, just above the pubic bone. Because of its location it is mostly covered by underwear or clothes. Incisions on other locations are less common. Here are some c-section scar photos.

Logically the location of the c-section scar depends on where the incision(s) is (are) made.

C-Section Incisions

There are several types of Caesarean section (CS). An important distinction lies in the type of incision (longitudinal or latitudinal) made on the uterus, apart from the incision on the skin.

  • The classical Caesarean section involves a midline lengthwise incision which allows a larger space to deliver the baby. However, it is rarely performed today as it is more prone to complications.
  • The lower uterine segment section is the procedure most commonly used today.  It involves a crosswise cut just above the edge of the bladder and results in less blood loss and is easier to repair.
  • A crash Caesarean section is a Caesarean performed in an obstetric emergency, where complications of pregnancy onset suddenly during the process of labour, and swift action is required to prevent the deaths of mother, child(ren) or both.
  • a repeat Caesarean section is done when a patient had a previous Caesarean section. Typically it is performed through the old scar.

Source: Wikipedia Ceasarean Section

C-Section Procedure Animation

An incision is made in the abdomen area from just under the navel to the top of the pubic bone. Or, more frequently, a horizontal incision across and just above the pubic bone is made. This Pfannenstiel incision is also referred to as the bikini cut. Then the surgeon will make a second incision on the lower part of the uterus.

(C-Section) Scar Treatment Misconceptions

I stumbled upon this question on Yahoo Answers about c-section scar treatment and the answers given point out how many misconceptions about scar healing (in general) exist.

The question:

“I had a C-section 6 weeks ago and the scar is red and puffed up. Does anyone recommend a scar treatment for it? and when should I start applying the scar treatment?”

In the answers many of the common, so called best c-section scar treatments are mentioned but a really truthful and helpful answer isn’t there. Yes, of course scar tissue improves over time as mentioned by one of the answerers. But no, Mederma is not a proven effective remedy actually. Studies show it works just as good, or even slightly less effective, as Vaseline. Also for Cocoa butter there’s no clinical evidence it improves scar appearance.

Why so many people swear such products work for them possibly has to do with the massaging of the scar, improved blood circulation, and hydration. Regarding vitamin E capsules, better leave those where they are, or use them where they are intended for but do not use them topically. Studies have shown rubbing vitamin e onto scars can make their appearance worse and cause skin reactions.

So what does work? First of all, decent wound care can really make a difference. Let’s look into that.

C-Section Wound Care

The best C-section scar treatment starts with proper wound care.

Commonly scar treatment should not be started until the wound has closed. But this doesn’t imply that before this time nothing can be done. In fact, appropriate and decent wound care is essential in reducing scarring later on. Therefore, proper wound care should be the principal focus.

A wound that heals fast and without problems such as excessive inflammation and infections has lower risk of developing excessive scar tissue. Wounds that are not kept clean and looked after are prone to poor scar healing.

 

How To Avoid C-section Wound Infection

Wound infections can’t always be avoided but it’s certainly recommended to take some precautions. Here are some tips:

Washing your hands and the wound
Make sure to wash your hands (with antibacterial soap such as Betadine) before changing bandages, surgical tape, or wound dressings. Also keep the wound sterile and covered. When washing the wound it should always be done very gentle with a soft wash cloth or sponge.

Betadine (the disinfecting ointment medical personnel uses in hospitals) can also be used for cleaning the wound. It’s best to not rub firmly because this might open up the just healed wound. Drying should be done with a clean towel by patting the wound tissue gently.

A very effective, natural, topical antibiotic
Some women use Neosporin, Bacitracin or an antibiotic ointment of another brand. An increasing amount of bacteria is developing resistance to antibiotics. Another downside of topical antibiotics is that prolonged use isn’t recommended because of possible side effects.

A product that does not have these disadvantages and, on top of that, is natural are Medihoney dressings. They provide a moist environment which is beneficial to wound healing and create a very effective barrier to harmful, infection causing, bacteria. What’s also convenient is that they do not stick to the wound.

“Medihoney dressings have been shown to improve healing rates by up to 30% compared to standard dressings” (Reference: Robson, V., Dodd, S. and Thomas, S. (2009)

Suitable for exuding wounds
Use Medihoney wound dressings. These medical honey dressings have been proven to be highly effective in managing a wide array of exuding wounds. There are several types of Medihoney dressings for different types of wounds. Honeycolloid dressings are suitable for wounds with light to moderate drainage. Medihoney calcium alginate dressings are best for wounds with moderate to heavy drainage.

Overhanging skin on the c-section wound may contribute to development of an infection so make sure to keep an close eye on the healing process. In case of foul odor, excessive pain, swollen tissue an infection might be present.

Medihoney Wound Dressings

Medihoney alginate wound dressing

Medihoney wound dressing

the best treatment for your c-section wound

Many women use Bacitracin First Aid antibiotic ointment, or Neosporin antibiotic ointment but there’s something much better. Wound dressings with sterilized, medical grade manuka honey.

Research of the last decades has shown this type of honey to be very successful in speeding wound healing, reducing the chance on infection, treating infections (even infections that seemed untreatable!), removing wound odor, and soothing and moisturizing tissue.

Medihoney dressings have shown to even cure staph and even MRSA infected wounds. Staph infection also occurs in c-section wounds. All Medihoney dressings provide an antibacterial barrier that inhibits bacteria, reducing the risk of infection. A popular dressing is Medihoney wound paste.

The Best C-Section Scar Treatment

silicone scar sheet

silicone scar sheet

Silicone strips for c-section scars are proven effective.

Silicone sheets improve c-section scars by:

  • reducing swelling and redness
  • softening the scar tissue and toning it’s color down
  • reducing itching and pain
  • preventing the scar from bulging and growing into a hypertrophic or keloid scar

They also:

  • reduce the unpleasant feeling when underwear or jeans are bothering the c-section wound or fresh scar
  • are backed with a silky, ultra-thin, soft fabric which is opaque colored so it conceals the scar during treatment

When a c-section scar is red and puffed up silicone strips can be a practical solution. It it is true that many scars, especially those resulting from surgery, can be red, bumpy, and look awful but eventually they will improve.

Treatment and Prevention
Silicone dressings however, which are in many cases FDA Class 1 Medical Devices, do not only improve the scar appearance, they also reduce or take away itchiness and pain. On top of that they reduce the chance on developing hypertrophic (red and raised) and keloid c-section scars. (keloids are scars that grow beyond the normal wound boundaries.)

“Surgeons, dermatologists, ObGyns, and physical therapists are recommending ScarAway to their patients, and urging them to try this safe, effective and affordable method of scar treatment and prevention,”

says Jessica Rowen, President of Mitchell-Vance Laboratories, LLC, a certified woman-owned business.

 

ScarAway C-Section Scar Treatment Strips

silicone sheets for C-section scar treatment

silicone sheets for C-section scar treatment

clinically proven safe and effective in treating and preventing scars these make the best c-section scar treatment available over the counter.

ScarAway C-Section scar strips are patented silicone strips developed specifically for moms recovering from c-sections. These strips help restore raised and discolored C-section scars to a more natural color and texture, using the same technology trusted by burn centers and plastic surgeons.

As far as I know ScarAway is the only brand which makes use of the patented Silon technology. (ScarAway was previously marketed as NeoSporin Scar Solution)

These sheets mimic the natural barrier function of normal, healthy skin, increasing hydration and temperature at the scar site, working to soften the scar tissue and reducing it’s development, this is what causes it to fade away faster.

ScarAway easy-to-apply, self-adhesive silicone scar management sheets. They are drug free and completely safe for c-section or nursing moms.

Here’s a short review:

scar removal product review rating“The patches are called scaraway and are silicone sheets. I used them for my c-section scar and am VERY pleased. (My friends scar got red and bumpy..mine healed flat and pretty thin and is regular skin color now).. They adherer to your skin without tape (but they are not sticky like bandaids)..hard to explain..I hardly noticed they were on me. hope that helps”

 

Compression Therapy for C-Section Scars

reduce the tension on your c-section scar

Next to silicone strips compression is another scar treatment for which clinical evidence exists it actually works (although in lesser amount). Compression garments administer constant pressure on the scar tissue which is thought to reduce the production of collagen.

Some women use specialized compression belts also called c-section compression binders for extra comfort, pain reduction, and reduction of tension on the wound and scar tissue which will minimize scarring and speed wound and scar healing. Abdominal binding belts also ease movement e.g. while getting out of bed.

A compression binder review from Amazon:

scar removal product review rating“I would recommend this product to anyone. This is my 3rd c-section and I know just how painful recovery can be. I brought it with me to the hospital and it worked out wonderfully! If you have a c-section you won’t be sorry purchasing this.”

Abdominal Binders After C Section

recovery belly belt, belly binding belt, swelly belly band..

There are several abdominal binder brands such as the Swelly Belly Band, the belly binding belt, and the AbdoMend c-section abdominal binder.

Some more benefits of wearing these is that they stop itching of the abdominal incision, speed up your c section recovery, reduce swelling, protect the wound, and offer comfort when wearing a seat belt. The AbdoMen belt is also available in a c section recovery kit.

Benefits of a Belly Binding Belt
Some more info on belly binding belts for post c section recovery in this short video.

C Section Recovery Kits


Various c section recovery kits and products are available. Worn during late pregnancy these belts and binder add to the best c-section scar treatment. They help reduce stretch marks and offer comfortable support to both lower back and tummy. The 100% Cotton Bikini Belt can be worn immediately after cesarean delivery.

The self help massage guide demonstrates massage techniques to avoid adhesion and a problematic scar. The dry skin brush reduces swelling and ingrown hairs in your incision. Our Recovery Belt features a unique Extra Support Strap that can easily be fitted at the back for lower back support or on the front to protect your incision.

Soft and supportive light weight cotton blend materials. Available in 5 sizes for maximum comfort. The belt easily adjusts with long hook & loop closures that allow ultimate adjustment. Check out Amazon for the most popular c-section recovery products.

C-Section Scar Pain

Some women experience pain in their c-section scar. This can vary from tingling to real pain as well as a numb feeling. Where some women loose sensitivity on the skin located around the scar tissue others experience extra sensitivity.

Sometimes scar contractions can cause pain and discomfort. This can be solved by massaging the scar tissue because massage loosens the tissue, boosts circulation and thus makes the tissue softer.

C-Section Scar Massage

scar massage helps the c-section scar heal

scar massage helps the c-section scar heal

Scar massage should be started out very carefully and only when the wound has closed completely. When the skin has regrown you can start out with gently massaging the tissue in a circular motion.

Start massaging about 10 to 30 seconds a few times a day. Make sure the new skin and tissue doesn’t get damaged. When the scar tends to get redder stop the massage. Later on the massage can be expanded.

“Massage helps break down the dense bands of collagen that attach to underlying tissue, a common reaction to cesarean sections, appendectomies or hand wounds,,”

source: Robert Bernard, M.D., a plastic surgeon based in White Plains, New York, and president-elect of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Best C-Section Scar Treatment Tips

Moisturize
Scientists demonstrate that hydration is beneficial to treatment of scars. You can moisturize the scar tissue by using a lotion or cream of your liking. In my opinion any moisturizing cream will do. It doesn’t have to be an expensive scar cream. Vaseline has shown in one study to be more efficient than an onion extract based cream such as Mederma. It is thought this is due to Vaseline’s hydrating properties

Protect Your Scar From UV Radiation
UV rays are detrimental to scar tissue. Always avoid exposing your c-section scar to UV rays from direct sunlight and or tanning beds. Use a high SPF sunscreen, also when wearing thin clothes because many fabrics do not prevent the sun radiation from coming through.

Start Treating The Scar ASAP
The fresher a scar, the more efficient treatments will be. So after the wound is closed scar treatment can be applied immediately. But never before the wound is healed completely. Proper wound care will also benefit scar appearance. Keep the wound moist and clean.

Initially Focus on Non Invasive / DIY Methods
Over time scars will improve. Make use of non invasive methods and avoid the more intrusive methods as steroid injections and surgery as much as possible. The scar has to heal again and new scar tissue will come into existence.

Take a Look Into Supplements That Speed Healing
Not all, but certain supplements that are claimed to enhance the surgical healing process actually work. Vitamin C is one of these proven effective dietary supplements. Here’s more info on how to improve surgical healing with supplements.

Excercising After A C-Section

After your c-section it is time to gradually pick up exercising but some precautions have to be made. The wound or scar is still fresh so too much tension should be avoided at any cost. On the other hand not doing enough isn’t conducive either.

 

::::::::::::: Comments:

carolweez Jan 6, 2013 @ 11:16 am | delete
My sister had C section twice already. Her scars have not healed very well, so I will be forwarding the link of this lens to her as I think it is a great resource for mums like her. Thanks for putting this together.

maraya Aug 13, 2012 @ 7:59 am | delete
My sister is using invicible scars to fade her scar. It helped me out for my dark spots and reportedly it’s a great scar reducing cream. Hope it gets her rid of the scar that raised after her c section

VspaBotanicals Aug 3, 2012 @ 1:51 pm | delete
When i have my c-sections, i used an ointment that my grandmother handmade for me. I can’t remember the ingredients, but she did say that one of the ingredients happened to be aloe vera. It was very soothing.

Bellah212 Mar 11, 2012 @ 8:29 pm | delete
I ceaser five weeks ago and it got infected. What antibiotic should i take to heal up the wound and what type of cream should i use to dress it?

Beas Mar 13, 2012 @ 1:54 pm | delete
Topical antibiotics should only be used for a few days in a row. A great, natural alternative are Medihoney dressings. A wide array of studies as well as real life examples shows these medical devices to be able to cure wounds that can’t be healed otherwise. Such as MRSA infected wounds. They cure and prevent infections and speed the healing process without side effects. Here’s some more info on wound healing with honey.

Posted in Home Remedies, Red Raised Scars, Surgery Scars | Tagged , | Leave a comment

White Scar Treatment – Repigmentation of Hypopigmented Scars

a white scar

a white scarWhite or pale scars are hard to treat effectively. These scars appear this way due to less melanin production.

The cause?, scar tissue has less melanocytes, which make melanin, then normal skin. First we will take a closer look at melanocytes and a process called melanogenesis and how these affect scarring.

After that we will examine if there are effective treatments available.

How Do White Scars Form?

Melanocytes are melanin-producing cells located in the bottom layer of the skin’s epidermis. Melanin is the pigment primarily associated with skin color and is produced by melanocytes through a process called melanogenesis (“Melanocytes,” 2012).

White scarring occurs because melanocyte production in the injured area of the skin has been impaired. If a wound involves a gash that is more than just a superficial penetration of the skin, most of the pigment producing layers of the upper skin in that area would be damaged.

melanocytesThis requires the deeper layers of the skin beneath the wound to repair the injured tissue. To start the dermal repair process, the skin knits together collagen and elastin to build new tissues and protect blood vessels beneath the injured area. If any blood vessel damage occurred, increased amounts of inflammation would accompany the wound healing process.

When this happens, excessive scarring, which is a mild form of fibrosis, may occur because of the increased skin damage and inflammation. ( * fibrosis is the formation of excess fibrous connective tissue )

With this build-up of scar tissue, melanocytes may not reach the surface of the skin where they make melanin and give color to the skin. The result is that the healed wound can develop a white, coarse, scar tissue (white scarring), that lacks the normal pigmentation of the surrounding skin tissues (San-Joyz, Noweko, December 1, 2006).

White Scar Treatments

There are a number of treatments which have been developed to try and restore melanogenesis to scarred areas where melanin is lacking. Some of these methods are invasive, some are nutritional, others topical, and though many claim differing levels of success, their actual effectiveness may be subjective.

Laser Treatments
Low-level lasers, such as UV-B lasers can be used as a form of phototherapy to simulate exposure to sunlight and perhaps stimulate dormant melanocytes to produce melanin to re-pigment areas where pigmentation is lacking (Realself.com, 2012).

Microneedling
dermarollerA proven method of scar reducing is done through the process of microneedling using a Dermaroller®. The Dermaroller® is a drum-shaped roller with fine microneedles placed in eight rows. The length of the needles varies from 0.5 to 1.5 mm in length. As the Dermaroller® is rolled over the scarred area, the microneedles pierce the stratum corneum of the skin to create micro-conduits (small puncture holes) without damaging the epidermis. New collagen and elastin forms in the puncture holes to hopefully fill-in and improve scars.

In white scar treatments, the microneedling is followed by treating the microneedled area with a tyrosine solution. Tyrosine is a naturally occurring enzyme which stimulates melanin production in skin (Realself.com, 2012).

Hopefully, the new melanin production will reduce the scar. More info on the use of dermarollers in scar treatment.

Topical Treatments
Methoxsalen, also known as Oxsoralen, is a substance derived from the Bishop’s Weed plant (Ammi majus) (“Methoxsalen,” 2012). A 0.1% oxsoralen cream can be applied to an affected area and then subjected to UV phototherapy for a short period to stimulate melanin production in the area needing re-pigmentation (Nvfi.org. (2009).

Tatooing
A permanent makeup tattooist can tattoo the white scarred area using a tattoo pigment that matches the color of the surrounding skin (Realself.com, 2012).

Nutritional Aids to Melanogenesis

Certain foods and vitamins can help increase and maintain the number of melanocytes in the skin, thus improving melanin production (Myers, Cheryl, April 26, 2011).

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is an important nutrient responsible for increasing melanin production and restoring/maintaining melanin in the skin. Foods that contain vitamin A include whole or skim milk, cheese, eggs and beef, chicken liver, carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, apricot, papayas, and mangoes (Myers, Cheryl, April 26, 2011).

If vitamin a is taken as a supplement, the dietary reference intake (DRI) for adult men for vitamin A is 900 mcg a day, and 700 mcg for adult women. It is also best to eat a meal that contains some fatty acids to help your body absorb the nutrient (Myers, Cheryl, April 26, 2011).

Vitamin C
strawberriesVitamin C plays a significant role in protecting cells of the skin and blood. Some fruits rich in vitamin C include oranges, mangoes, grapefruit, kiwi, and strawberries (Myers, Cheryl, April 26, 2011).

If vitamin C is taken as a supplement, the DRI for adult men is 90 mg a day, and 70 mg
for adult women. Vitamin C should be taken together with vitamin E because they are beneficial to each other (Myers, Cheryl, April 26, 2011).

Vitamin E
Vitamin E works to neutralize free-radicals and provides protection to melanocytes in the skin. Foods rich in vitamin E include vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, nuts and whole grains—basically foods that are rich in fatty acids. If taken as a supplement, the Institute of Medicine recommends 15 mg of vitamin E daily for men and women (Myers, Cheryl, April 26, 2011).

Coffee and Chocolate
Coffee and cocoa both contain components that aid in melanin production. Extracts from both are commonly used in cosmetics (i.e., cocoa butter), and consuming coffee and cocoa products also introduces these components into the body (Increase Melanin Blog, September 12, 2007).

 

In Summary

White scarring can be approached from several different directions. There are invasive and topical techniques, and also nutritional ways to address the issue. It is best to consult with your physician to see which approach might be more suited to your needs.

 

References

Bailey, Yasser. (March 28, 2011). Vitamins to Restore Melanin. Source: Livestrong.com.

(September 12, 2007). Foods to encourage Melanin production in the Skin. Source: Increase Melanin Blog.

Melanocyte. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 28, 2012.

Methoxsalen. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved August 29, 2012.

Myers, Cheryl. (April 26, 2011). How to Increase Melanin with Vitamins. Source: Livestrong.com.

UV Light Phototherapy for Vitiligo. Source: Nvfi.org. (2009).

What Can Be Done for White Scars? Source: Realself.com. (2012).

San-Joyz, Noweko. (December 1, 2006). White Scars & Hypopigmentation: Their Causes & Cures. Source: EZinearticles.com. 

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RevPlex Skin Lightening Serum Review

RevPlex Skin Lightening Serum
RevPlex Skin Lightening Serum

RevPlex Skin Lightening Serum

A fairly new product in the skin lightening segment is RevPlex Skin Lightening Serum. In this review we will examine this product in order to find out, does RevPlex really work? It’s the tones that make the music. In cosmetics it’s not different. It’s the ingredients that matter. Let’s take a look at RevPlex Skin Lightening Serum’s most important active ingredients.

  • Bearberry Leaf Extract –  Is commonly used as an astringent in cosmetics and skin care products. It is also used as a lightening agent to fade freckles or skin discoloration which may be caused by sun damage or hormonal conditions. As a lightening agent, bearberry extract is thought to increase cell turnover rate, by causing the shedding of old skin cells, which do not reflect light as smoothly as newer cells and which make the skin look dull. Hydroquinone and arbutin are the two active components of bearberry extract thought responsible for its ability to reduce skin pigmentation. Both are reported to have reported to have melanin-inhibiting properties (melanin is the pigment that determines skin color). Bearberry is available in liquid, tablet or tea bag form (Wisegeeks, 2012).
  • Arbutin – As one of the active ingredients in bearberry, arbutin is used in skin lightening treatments designed for long term and regular use.
  • Licorice root – Glycyrrhiza glabra or the licorice root has been used for millennia as a flavoring agent and for its medicinal properties. The active ingredients include isoprenoid phenols, one of which is the compound known as glabrene. Glabrene is the agent in this plant that may serve as a skin lightening agent. Glabrene has significant inhibitory effects on melanogenisis, inhibiting enzymes in this process (Saxena, Sanjai, March 25, 2005). Other compounds in licorice root that can serve as skin lightening agents include isoliquiritigenin, glycyrrhisoflavone, and glyasperin (Xing-Hua Gao, MDa, Li Zhang, MDa, Huachen Wei, MDb, Hong-Duo Chen, MDa, 2008).
  • Saxifraga sarmentosa Extract – An in-depth Google search revealed that Saxifraga sarmentosa extract is used in many cosmetics applications, with claims that it acts as a skin whitening agent. However, a search of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) PubMed Central medical literature database reveals there are no writings in the medical literature to support any medicinal claims for this plant or its extracts.
  • Salicylic Acid Salicylic acid is a beta hydroxy acid used topically as an acne treatment and skin peeling agent. As a skin peeling agent, it gently penetrates and exfoliates the upper layers of the skin’s surface. Once these upper layers of skin have been removed, newer, lighter-colored skin can grow in their place. Salicylic acid has also been shown to be effective at lightening skin and reversing sun damage. Salicylic acid can be combined with other skin lightening agents in mild and medium-depth peels to lighten skin and treat hyperpigmentation problems like melasma or sun spots. Salicylic acid is well-tolerated by those with darker complexions, and can also be used to treat scars (Salicylic.com, September 1, 2010).
  • Vitamin C Vitamin C is important for proper skin health. It is vital to the synthesis of collagen in the skin repair process and in the maintenance of healthy skin tissue. As a skin lightening agent, Vitamin C acts as a melanin inhibitor to help produce lighter colored skin (YahooAnswers, (2012).

Looking at Ingredients vs the Formula

Not only should there be effective ingredients in a product but they should also be present in sufficient concentrations to be effective. Apart from that, the combination of certain ingredients, the formula should be effective. Often, cosmetic companies claim to have clinically proven products, but in reality they may be referring to using clinically proven ingredients rather than a clinically proven formula. There is a crucial difference between the two as some ingredients can become diluted when introduced to the formula. The only way to know for sure if a product works is to test the formula as a whole, instead of basing assumptions on third-party, anecdotal evidence from specific ingredients.

Revplex™ products have been clinically and independently proven to help improve one’s overall appearance. Additionally, our products have also been approved by a Dermatologist during clinical trials in order to confirm that our products are safe to use including on sensitive skin.

RevPlex Skin Lightening Serum is claimed to help fade; moles, freckles, hyperpigmentation, age spots, sun spots, intimate areas, and dark underarms.

66% experienced a reduction in the appearance of age spots after 4 weeks and 77% experienced a reduction in in the appearance of age spots after just 8 weeks

For more info, visit the official RevPlex website: Revplex Store – Skin Lightening Sub Page

 

More info on the ingredients

  • Bearberry is a member of the Manzanita family and is found in the northern latitudes, along with higher altitude locations further south. Bearberry has historically been used for its medicinal properties. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which has anti-microbial properties and can be used as a diuretic (“Arctostaphylos uva-ursi,” 2012). Hydroquinone is the other active ingredient in bearberry. Bearberry extract is made from the leaves of the bearberry plant.
  • Saxifraga sarmentosa, also botanically referred to as S. stolonifera, has many common names, including Strawberry Begonia. It is a perennial flowering plant native to Asia, which has also been naturalized in several places of the world through introduction. According to the Plants for a Future database, this plant has medicinal properties, to include being antibacterial, antiphlogistic (anti-inflammatory), depurative (cleansing agent), febrifuge (anti-fever), and suppurative (anti-pus). A poultice can be made for treatment of boils and abscesses, poisonous snakebites, otitis media, acute attacks of convulsions and haematemesis (Plants for a Future, 2012).
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Treatment Of Brown and Dark Scars

Melanocytes in skin responsible for dark scars

Brown and dark scars can be difficult to fade, especially in dark skinned people. People with darker skin tones have more melanin, making their skin predisposed to create even more pigment after injury.

Most brown and other dark colored scars are caused by hyperpigmentation. According to WebMD:

Hyperpigmentation in skin is caused by an increase in melanin, the substance in the body that is responsible for color (pigment).

Melanocytes in skin responsible for dark scars

melanocytes in skin

This melanin increase can be a result of inflammation or an increased activation of cells called melanocytes.

Melanocytes are located in the bottom layer (the stratum basale) of the skin’s epidermis and produce skin pigment (melanin).

Brown marks or scarring can also be caused by acne breakouts or chicken pox.

Melanin and Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation

 

Effective treatment of such scars (and spots) will address the inflammation associated with the hyperpigmentation as well as the darkening caused by excess melanin production. Exfoliating is not ideal because it only affects the top layer of the skin. New melanin may still be produced and therefore melanine production should be stopped.

The redness that commonly occurs when active acne outbreaks have faded is called post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Other causes are skin injury such as wounds, acne lesions, friction, shaving, insect bites, and chicken pox.

People with fair skin are more prone to develop post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The reason is that these skin types are more susceptible to active pigment cells descending from the epidermis into the dermis thus consolidating the discoloration.

Also thickened collagen structures created during scar tissue formation that are retaining pigment cells make such scars difficult to lighten.

 

So What’s The Best Treatment Of Brown Scars?

 

1. Protect Against Sunshine and UV light.

First and foremost, keep sunshine and other UV radiation exposure at a minimum. Use sunblock (preferably SPF 25 or higher) and avoid tanning beds because ultraviolet light will darken already hyperpigmented areas. It is recommended to do this for at least one year after the initial injury.

Skin exposed to sunshine activates cells in your skin to produce hormone-like substances, commonly called inflammatory mediators. These hormones activate a wide variety of responses in the skin, of which one is the activation of the melanocytes.

 

2. Look For Effective and Safe Ingredients.

Secondly, dark scars can be lightened with the help of certain natural substances. There are several ingredients that work but not all are as powerful and some are known to have side effects.

Common Natural Lightening Agents:

Glycolic acid (e.g. citric acid), salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acid (fruit acid), azelaic acid, kojic acid, lactic acid, scutellaria, liquorice extract, bearberry extract (arbutin), mulberry extract, Burner (Burdock) Root Extract, vitamin C, lycopene, grape seed, CQ10, vitamin K1, citrus bioflavonoids, green tea extract, horse chestnut extract and German chamomile extract.

  • Glycolic acid for example is a natural skin exfoliant and moisturizer but its safety and effectiveness is disputed.
  • Use of concentrated solutions of salicic acid (formerly derived from willow tree bark) may actually cause hyperpigmentation especially in individuals with medium to dark skin types.
  • Also kojic acid is an effective ingredient. Studies demonstrate that the addition of kojic acid to a certain cream further improves melasma. However, reported side effects include stinging sensations, redness, and skin exfoliation. (1)

 

Which Ingredients Are Side Effect Free?

Vitamin C is both effective and free of unwanted side effects. The thing with vitamin C is that it is unstable. This means that when it is exposed to oxygen it will lose its effectiveness and turn brown. Some manufacturers add brown coloring to their formulas so the vitamin getting ineffective will not get noticed by customers.

Another recommended substance is liquorice (licorice). Various scientific publications show several beneficial effects of topical administration of liquorice. Licorice extract contains flavonoids and glycyrrhizin which are known for their anti-inflammatory action in skin. Another substance found in licorice called liquiritin is thought to aid treatment of the skin-pigmentation disorder melasma.

Other ingredients that are thought to be safe are soy and niacinamide. Soy will help fade dark spots and marks whereas niacinamide reduces the melanin build-up that can cause brown scars.

Contrary to what is commonly thought, cocoa butter and vitamin E oil do not belong to the proven effective scar treatments.

Don’t expect overnight results. Melanin forms at the basal layer of the epidermis and for it to rise to the surface takes about a month.

 

Is There A Cream Combining These Ingredients?

Yes, as a matter of fact there is. A well-reviewed, natural cream that contains these effective and safe ingredients is Invicible scar cream. This “promising new formula” as stated by Allure Magazine combines the proven effective properties of silicones, stable vitamin C, liquorice, and some other substances. The unique formula is steadily becoming one of the most expert-recommended scar creams available. Widespread media coverage aids to the popularity of this fairly new product.

According to Dermascope Magazine it’s: “An exceptional new skin care cream that addresses scarring unlike any other…” And Plastic Surgery Practice wrote: “helps speed the healing process, smooths skin texture and evens out skin tone.”

Hypoallergenic Invicible does not contain preservatives or fragrances and was therefore awarded the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. Visit their website to learn more, there’s also an abundance of unbiased information on scar treatment as well as links to clinical trials and other scientific reports.


References

1. Treatment of melasma using kojic acid in a gel containing hydroquinone and glycolic acid. Source: PubMed.gov.

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6 Widespread Myths on Treatment of Scars

pot of gold

myths on treatment of scarsScars can embarrass people and make them self-conscious. Even worse, scar tissue can also cause pain, itch, and may restrict movement of joints and ligaments. Therefore it is important to treat them as well as possible.

Poor advice about scar treatment is widespread. Not only among private persons but among experts such as dermatologists as well.

Often people are adviced to use products that have no scientific evidence proving their efficacy.

This does not have to necessarily mean they don’t work but it remains a fact that even medical professionals don’t always know which treatment is best. At worst this may lead to scar tissue damage.

So in order to help you with determining the right approach for your scar here a list of 6 common scar treatment myths.

Myth 1: There Is Nothing You Can Do About Scars

 

Admitted, scars are permanent. But their appearance can be improved. Problematic scars such as hypertrophics and keloids can be treated and sometimes prevented, contractures can be made more supple and pliable, and the prominence of acne scars can be reduced.

Not always is it possible to use home remedies to achieve satisfying results. In many cases laser therapy, cryotherapy, dermabrasion, or even surgery are required but scars can be improved.

Especially when anticipation is possible, for example in case of surgery scars there are things that can be done. Supplements can be taken prior to surgery while optimal wound care (e.g. paper tape, compression, Medihoney dressings) can make a huge difference in scar tissue creation.

Myth 2: Vitamin E Is An Effective Treatment of Scars

 

This myth is very commonly accepted as being true. Ask a random person what they think will improve their scar and there’s a big chance they will mention Vitamin E.

Not only is there no scientific evidence to support this claim, vitamin E can also cause skin irritation (it did in about 30% of test persons in a study) and subsequently make scars worse. Well-educated dermatologists advice against the use of vitamin E on scars.

Myth 3: Keep Your Wound Dry and Let it Breathe

 

A large share of the population still thinks it is best to let your cut breathe. Studies show the opposite is true. Wounds that are kept moist and covered heal quicker. And since the healing time of a wound is directly related to the amount scar tissue formed this is something to take into account.

You should thoroughly clean the wound and apply an anti-bacterial ointment and optionally a bandage. Letting the wound breathe will cause it to dry up and scab. Scabbing is not desired since it increases your chances of scarring. Therefore, keep your cut moist and clean and when it is closed scar treatment can be started.

Myth 4: Tanning Improves The Cosmetic Appearance of Scars

 

This really depends on what state your scar is in. Fresh scars take up to 2 years (possibly less) to fully mature. During this phase sunshine and UV radiation from tanning beds etc. should be avoided at all costs.

Not only is there less pigment in the scar tissue which allows for them to burn more easily, UV radiation will also worsen the scar. UV may also dry out scars which is actually something to avoid because it is hydration which is known to improve them.

Make sure to apply a sunscreen of at least SPF 30 even when you are wearing thin cotton clothes because the UV rays will go through the fabric. Older white scars may benefit from tanning.

Myth 5: Onion Extract Is A Proven Effective Treatment

 

This is not true. There is one study conducted on rabbit ears in which onion extract (alium cepa) remodeled collagen structure in scars. But in human studies there was no proof found it helps reduce scars. A well known brand name of a cream containing onion extract is Mederma. Read more about onion extract for scars.

Myth 6: Cococa Butter Is a Sustainable Scar Improving Agent

Although cocoa butter contains high levels of phenolic compounds, which can reduce skin inflammation it does not improve appearance of skin in general and scars in particular. This was concluded by a study published in the “Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture”.

Cocoa butter, among some other popular topicals may moisturize your scar making it softer and noticeable for a while, but the results are only temporary. For red raised (hypertrophic) scars there are much better alternatives.

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Treatment Of Hypertrophic (Red, Raised) Scars

treatment-of-hypertrophic-scars

When treating red, raised scars it is recommended to first determine whether you are dealing with a hypertrophic or keloid scar.

  • Hypertrophic scars, often red, raised, and itchy, represent excessive growth of collagen tissue.
  • Keloids, commonly darker colored, protrude outside the initial wound and typically continue to grow.


Hypertrophic scars are the most common type of scar tissue and are commonly associated with wounds that exhibit delayed healing: tissue loss, burns, surgery, and healing by secondary intention.

They are most likely to form on certain locations such as the back, chest, shoulders, jawline and earlobes.

Contemporary science hasn’t fully determined what causes them but this type of scar tissue is the result of overabundant collagen production.

These scars tend to resolve within two years however treatment is often desired and recommended. Reasons are to;

  • prevent further growth,
  • improve cosmetic appearance,
  • reduce itch and pain,
  • and lessen other discomfort.


Invasive vs. Non-Invasive Treatments



Various invasive treatments of hypertrophic scars exist such as (cortico)steroid injections, surgery, radiotherapy, cryotherapy, laser therapy (e.g. IP or pulsed dye laser), and topical lightening agents such as Retin-A or Hydroquinone.

Although these treatments may be effective downside of these volatile products and therapies is the risk on side effects.

Possible side effects include depressed scars and possibly the surrounding skin (subcutaneous atrophy), pigment changes, and telangiectasia (superficial dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin).



Therefore, the use of side-effect-free, non-invasive silicone gel sheeting is recommended.

Although silicones show to be less effective on keloids many people are willing to try them before starting other, radical, often more expensive, treatments.

Silicone sheeting is often called the clinical gold standard for raised scar treatment and abnormal scar prevention.


Silicone sheets are placed over the skin during the day or at night. They work best on new scars but also improve older scars. Patients can use them without medical supervision. The scar will flatten, soften, and its dark color will tone down.

The International Clinical Recommendations on Scar Management recommended silicone as first-line therapy for scar treatment and abnormal scar prevention. (1)


It was previously theorized that silicones work by electrostatic activity but nowadays their effectiveness is thought to be due to hydrating and covering the scar tissue which on its turn normalizes dermal collagen activity.

Although Cocoa butter, Vitamin E, or Mederma have been touted by other practitioners, there is minimal scientific data to fully support these claims.



References

1. Mustoe TA et al. Plast Reconstr Surg 2002;110:560-571.

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Treatment Of Scars After Surgery

treatment-of-scars-after-surgery

The adage, ‘even a plastic surgeon can’t erase without a trace’, is true. Post-surgery scars are inevitable but with some adequate care their prominence can be reduced substantially.

The goal of most people who were operated on will be to;

  • prevent excessive scar tissue and
  • to strive for the most satisfying cosmetic appearance.

Read on to learn about the various elements which, when combined, form the best treatment of scars after surgery.

Most post-surgery scars are hypertrophic. They are swollen, and generally red or purple colored. Keloids are a type of hypertrophic scars that grow outside the original wound area (nodules).

Optimal over-the-counter treatment of such scar tissue may consist of;

  • pressure therapy,
  • topical silicones,
  • creams with certain proven ingredients such as vitamin C and medical honey,
  • oral vitamin and mineral supplementation,
  • massage.

 

Surgical Paper Tape

Micropore surgical paper tapeAdhesive tape is often placed over a wound. It keeps the incision wound closed and minimizes shear forces on it. It is most commonly applied after removal of sutures or dressings. The goal is to prevent excessive scar tissue from forming as well as prevent stretching of the wound.

It’s generally recommended to keep wear the paper tape for about 6 weeks or until the wound has closed (or sometimes even longer).

(Hypoallergenic) tape supports the scar by reducing tension on the wound edges which minimizes the risk on widened and less favorable scarring.

Steristrips or Micropore tape are well known names used for this purpose.

Additional benefit of taping the cut is that it keeps scabbing soft and slight. (It’s recommended to prevent scabs and keep wounds moist for better wound healing and less scarring.)

 

Pressure Therapy

compression garment used after surgeryBefore the benefits of silicone sheeting became clear the standard in treating burn and surgical scars was pressure therapy. Compression garments are used to apply a constant pressure.

Compression has demonstrated to reduce itch and pain, flatten raised scars, or prevent their formation. Especially on keloids the effects are minimal:

Pressure may theoretically break up collagen bundles and soften the keloid mass; however, therapy must be instituted for long periods (>23 h/d for 6 mo) before significant effect can be achieved. (1)

Nowadays compression garments are generally applied to enhance the healing/ recovery process. They are mainly used after certain specific procedures such as tummy tuck surgery, liposuction, (male) breast reduction, face lifts, thigh lifts, c-sections, and buttock augmentation. Read more about the best c-section scar treatments here.

Wearing post-op compression garments;

  • improves blood circulation,
  • reduces bruising and swelling,
  • reliefs pain and discomfort,
  • supports new body contours,
  • reduces scarring.

Ask your doctor if you could benefit from wearing one following operation.

 

Silicone Gel Sheeting

silicone gel patch Since 1982 silicone gel sheets have been successfully used in the management of hypertrophic scars.

Although pressure therapy is still used in, especially, burn care, silicones have become the standard modality in most hospitals, burn centers, and other medical institutions.

Silicone gel softens and reduces scars in a shorter time-period than pressure therapy. (2)

Silicones are non-invasive which means there’s practically no risk on undesired side effects (some people may experience minor skin irritation).

It is therefore that its use is often recommended in favor of more invasive treatments such as steroid injections, cryotherapy (freezing scar tissue), and corrective surgery.

There is a wide range of brands on the consumer market and some brands offer pre-shaped sheets made specifically to cover certain surgical incisions such as c-section and breast reduction scars. A popular, high-quality brand is ScarAway .

 

Scar Massage

massageMassage helps break down excessive collagen that may cause problems such as restriction of movement when located near and attached to joints or underlying tissue.

Such problematic scarring commonly occurs after appendectomy, cesarean sections, and some other operations.

Massage shows to make scar tissue more pliable, and supple. Other types of physical therapy such as physiotherapy and stretching may reduce the discomfort of contracted scars.

Massage stimulates the degradation of hard and non-pliable collagen mass. Also the attachment of inflexible scar tissue to joints and ligaments can be reduced or prevented.

 

Vitamin and Mineral Supplements To Promote Scar Healing After Surgery

Arnica and Bromelain are two of the most popular supplements used for the treatment of scars after surgery. Sufficient protein intake is also essential since proteins are the building blocks of our body.

It is important to avoid vitamin C, vitamin E, and protein deficiency since this will obstruct wound healing. Most people who maintain a balanced diet will not not be deficient in these.

Supplementation of vitamin A, vitamin C, and B, zinc, arginine, niacin, glutamine, and glucosamine prior to and after surgery is thought to benefit wound and scar healing.

Special multinutrient formulas are available to enhance healing and obtain better cosmetic results following plastic and general surgery. Here’s more general info on how surgery supplements aid post op recovery.

Post-surgery supplements provide a balanced selection of vital vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids that have been shown to be essential for preparing the body for surgery and for helping one have a faster recovery.

 

Honey-based Wound Dressings

Decent wound care is crucial to minimizing scar tissue. Wounds that heal faster will generally scar less.

Wounds in which the healing process is disturbed or delayed (e.g. by infections) are more likely to leave bigger, more noticeable scars. There’s also a greater tendency for hypertrophic / keloid scar formation.

An in popularity growing wound care treatment are manuka honey sheets and creams. Medihoney dressings by Derma Sciences , the medical variant of this type of honey, has shown to cure the most severe, even life-threatening, wounds. These sheets are all natural, FDA approved medical devices that are scientifically proven effective in accelerating the wound healing process. Here’s more information on Medihoney dressings.

 

Combined Treatments

Some studies show advantages of combining various treatments. In a clinical trial undertaken to assess the effectiveness in preventing hypertrophic scars when several scar treatments were combined it was concluded;

The multimodality approach to scar control showed significant benefits in the patient groups tested in this series.(3)

The treatments examined were focused on reducing tension on the scar, hydration, collagen maturation and controlled inflammation. Tape was impregnated with a combination of agents providing an occlusive dressing. Among other combinations, tape and gel were compared with tape alone.

 

Questions, Remarks, Experiences?

Do you have any questions, want to share your experiences, or have any remarks to make? Don’t hesitate to drop your comment below. I have been there myself and will respond in a timely manner.

References

1. Hypertrophic Scarring and Keloids
2. Non-pressure treatment of hypertrophic scars
3. Multimodality Scar Management Program

Posted in Surgery Scars | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Onion Extract For Scars, Does It Work

photo via Flickr by DB-2

photo by DB-2

It is commonly thought that onion extract helps improve scars. One of the most popular scar creams, Mederma, is based on onion extract. But does it work? The answer is no. You are better off using petroleum jelly.

Also various other products contain Allium cepa, which is another name for onion extract. Despite it’s popularity there is no clinical proof it works on hypertrophic scars. It also does not seem to minimize redness and itch.

 

Competing brands such as Mederma feature Allium cepa (onion) extract among its ingredients, which may place a risk to those with allergies or even mild sensitivity to onions. Furthermore, Chung, Kelley, Marra and Jiang (2006) found onion extra to have no significant effects on the appearance of hypertrophic scars and other studies have concluded that it is even less effective than standard petroleum jelly. Onion extract has been found to produce an improvement in stretch marks, but is ineffective overall on any significant scarring.

 

Let’s take a look at studies conducted on this matter.

Three major studies have been conducted in the United States of which two that onion extract gel did not improve scar appearance and symptoms such as redness and itch.

The third study compared topical use of Vaseline (petroleum ointment) with onion extract.

Patients in the petrolatum control group reported greater improvements in wound healing when compared with those who used onion extract.

Onion extract does have some potentially useful properties but they haven’t shown to support treatment of scars yet.  It reduces inflammation, stops bacterial growth, and regulates excessive collagen growth (a common cause of abnormal scar tissue creation).

Mederma, scar cream with onion extract

Mederma scar cream

In one study, which is often referred to by manufactures of onion extract based scar products, it is demonstrated that Mederma improves collagen organization in a rabbit ear model.

It is therefore suggested “it may have an effect on the pathophysiology of hypertrophic scar formation“.  No human studies however indicate this ingredient to be useful. (1)

One study conducted in Turkey showed that scar color did improve upon topical use of onion extract but itch and elevation did not. Therefore they concluded that

“onion extract therapy should be used in combination with an occlusive silicon dressing to achieve a satisfying decrease in scar height”. (2)

 

How Come This Myth is So Persistent?

Once certain beliefs exist they are hard to get rid off. The notion that onion extract is beneficial to the skin dates at least from the 17th century. The French courtesan Ninon De L’Enclos who has been called “the most beautiful woman of the 17th Century” was known to use a balm of beeswax, lard, and onion juice.

Maybe the other ingredients help skin stay young and supple but onion juice doesn’t seem to do much. It, as far as we know, does not improve scars.

Sources:

1. Effect of Mederma on hypertrophic scarring in the rabbit ear model.

2. The effects of onion extract on hypertrophic and keloid scars.

Posted in Home Remedies | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments