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When a wound heals, it may eventually turn into a scar. Facial scars come in numerous forms and may be caused by injuries, acne, burns, or surgery. Since your face is constantly exposed to the environment, scars on this part of your body may have a harder time healing. Whereas you may be able to cover up or protect other areas of your body while a wound heals, your face is open to the elements for most of the day. It may not be possible to fully protect wounds on the face as they heal, and it may be difficult to keep treatments (e.g., ointments, creams) from rubbing away. The good news is that if you’re looking to treat facial scars, you have a lot of options to consider. Read through these popular methods, and discuss all of the benefits and risks with a dermatologist.
Dermabrasion is one of the most effective and most popular methods for treating facial scars. Unlike microdermabrasion kits you can buy at the drugstore, dermabrasion is performed by a dermatologist. They use a wire brush or a wheel to exfoliate the top layer of skin on your face.
Some of the complications of dermabrasion include:
Chemical peels contain mild acids that are applied in a single layer on the skin. As a result, the upper layer of skin (epidermis) exfoliates and rolls off, exposing a new layer of skin.
There are three types of chemical peel:
Deep peels are so intense that, according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, they can take up to three weeks to heal. Your face will be bandaged, and the dressings need to be changed several times a day. You may also need to take antiviral medications to prevent illness.
Chemical peels are popular skin treatments, so they are widely available. However, for scar treatment, you should only get a peel from a board-certified dermatologist.
Laser resurfacing has the same goal as chemical peels and dermabrasion: to remove the top layer of skin. Unlike acids and tools, laser resurfacing uses high-powered laser beams for skin removal.
There are two types: erbium and carbon dioxide laser resurfacing. While erbium is the safest method for the face, carbon dioxide appears to be the most effective in treating scars. Once you leave the doctor’s office, you will need to keep the area bandaged until it completely heals.
Plastic surgery is another treatment option. Unlike the procedures listed earlier, surgery is a more invasive process in which the scar tissue is surgically removed or altered with a scalpel. Depending on your goals and the severity of the scar, your doctor may remove the scar or the epidermis or even move the scar to minimize its appearance. Unlike the other treatment options, you may need to see a plastic surgeon instead of a dermatologist for this procedure. Always look for a board-certified surgeon with a proven record of success with plastic surgery for facial scars.
Home remedies are considered a more affordable and less invasive way to treat facial scars. Many of these remedies are already available in your pantry or medicine cabinet. The following are some options:
Treating skin wounds can help minimize or even prevent scars from occurring in the first place. If you have a wound or cut on your face, make sure you keep it clean. Applying petroleum jelly or Vaseline to the wound can help keep it moist and prevent scab formation. It is not necessary to apply topical antibiotics, like Neosporin, because simply washing the wound with mild soap and water is sufficient.
Wearing sunscreen can help minimize the appearance of scars once they have healed. By applying sunscreen to your face every day, you can prevent a scar from turning brown or red from sun exposure. In some cases, sunscreen can even help scars fade. Make sure to use SPF 30 or higher.
Numerous treatments are available for facial scars, but the ultimate choice depends on your budget, risks, and the type of scar you have. It’s important to work closely with your dermatologist to determine the best option for you. It’s also important to bear in mind that most scars are permanent. Though a given treatment might significantly reduce a scar’s appearance, it may not remove the scar entirely.
Once a wound has turned into a scar, it’s not likely to worsen. If the area begins to itch, turn red, or grow, see your doctor right away.
Written by: Kristeen Cherney
Medically reviewed on: Jul 10, 2016: University of Illinois-Chicago, College of Medicine
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