They say that beauty is only skin deep, while that may be true, to many of us it’s important that our inner beauty radiates outward. Facial scarring, caused by acne, trauma and other events, can make a person less comfortable in interviews, social settings and in their own skin. There are several methods of reducing scar visibility; these methods are known as “facial scar removal” or “facial scar revision”. The efficacy of many of these methods is well established, but as with any procedure, patients want to know: is scar removal safe? To answer this, we’ll take a look at several ways scars can be treated: laser therapy, microdermabrasion, peels, and stem cell lifts.
The first method we’ll analyze is laser therapy. Simply put, a dermatologist uses a local anesthetic on the patient’s skin, then passes a laser wand over the scar tissue. This triggers a reaction in the healthy cells underneath the scar tissue, which replace the scar with healthy tissue. The treatment can take one to two hours, depending on the severity of scarring. Laser therapy is non-invasive and effective; there is little in the way of serious risk. That said, some redness or swelling post-procedure is common, and it’s important to stay out of the sun afterwards as the risk of sunburn is increased.
Microdermabrasion is another non-invasive method of scar removal, especially useful for shallow acne scars. The dermatologist uses a tool which streams small crystals to break up the scarred tissue; this tool simultaneously vacuums up the dead skin cells. Much like laser therapy, the healthy cells to replace the dead ones, drastically reducing the appearance of scarring. The risks this procedure carries are similar to that of laser therapy; mild redness and swelling can occur for a short period of time afterwards, and patients should avoid direct sunlight immediately after the procedure.
Chemical peels are another effective method of scar removal; this method is not too different from applying a cleanser, but the strength of the peel a dermatologist can use is much higher than products patients could purchase themselves. Peels use a variety of different acids to remove the surface layer of skin, which reduces the appearance of shallow blemishes and scarring; as with the other treatments, patients should avoid the sun, and may experience some discomfort. The recovery time for this treatment is longer, as the whole surface layer of skin is removed, and can take four to ten days.
Stem cell lifts are a new, highly effective method of scar removal that uses the stem cells from a patient’s fat to rejuvenate the skin. Stem cells can turn into almost any other type of cell; by using the patient’s own stem cells, the new skin is indistinguishable from surrounding skin. The dermatologist applies a local anesthetic, so the procedure is not painful, and the positive effects can last years. This method not only reduces scarring, but makes the whole treated area look healthier; like chemical peels, the recovery is a bit longer, and swelling can persist from three to ten days.
Discomfort aside, all of the above methods of scar removal are safe and effective. Patients should see a trusted dermatologist and discuss their options, as each person’s skin and scarring will be different. Consulting with a dermatologist regularly is essential to maintaining healthy skin, and post-scar removal, patients should continue to visit yearly.