Scars and Skin Resurfacing
Hello, Warriors! Welcome to The Breast Place blog and thank you for taking time out of your active schedule to visit! We appreciate our readers to the utmost degree, as we do our patients. Hopefully, you’re taking advantage of the current climate and enjoying our lovely city in autumn. If this is your first visit to The Breast Place blog, we cover a range of topics here. From breast cancer management to anti-aging skin treatments to helpful tips for maximizing your overall health and wellness—The Breast Place is committed to sharing the best health practices and treatment options with you! Our offices are open and our staff are prepared to answer any questions you may have about your health, your breast cancer risk, and how to reach your aesthetic goals.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and, as such, we dedicated our last post to exploring the history and meaning of this observance. NBCAM hasn’t been around for long, but its impact on women’s health cannot be understated. As we work towards a cure for breast cancer, we must also normalize regular screening and take time to listen to the stories of survivors. By doing so, we can help save lives. We included a list of ways you can help support breast cancer awareness this month, even if you’re unable to donate or join a race. If you’re interested in understanding the breast cancer awareness movement, there’s no better resource! Definitely check out our last article when you’re done here!
Today’s topic concerns scars. Scars can be painful reminders of the past, unsightly blemishes, or as unremarked upon as freckles. However, what most scars have in common, is their seeming permanence. Many of us resign ourselves to living with our scars for the rest of our lives, regardless of their impact on our day-to-day activities and self-esteem. We’re here to help alleviate this misconception. Not all scars are permanent. In fact, most scars can be significantly improved through focused treatment and the right regimen. From surgery scars to stretch marks to acne scars to burns—almost all scars can be helped by skin resurfacing. We’ll talk about how scars form, their effect on mental health, how resurfacing can help, and finally what we offer at our practice. There’s no need to live in discomfort, try various at-home remedies with little success, or accept the intrusive presence of scars. There are options and we’re here to help! If you have a scar you’ve been wanting to be rid of for years, this article is certainly for you. Without further ado, let’s delve into what scars are and where they form within the skin!
What are scars?
When an injury of any kind occurs, our bodies work diligently to fix the damage. Therefore, scars can be considered the side effect of our bodies performing their healing duties well. However, sometimes, our bodies can perform a little too well. In these instances, people develop what are called keloid scars—smooth, hard growths made up of scar tissue. Keloids can occur anywhere on the body, can be genetically derived, and can be difficult to get rid of. Since keloids can grow back larger than before when merely cut off, they usually require the expertise of a medical provider, who will suggest some type of dressing, injection, or removal surgery. Keloids are one of the only types of scars which will not always benefit from laser treatment or other skin resurfacing methods, as these can make the scarring worse.
If you’re not prone to developing keloids, chances are you’re saddled with a run-of-the-mill scar. A cut, burn, boil, ulcer, or any other form of trauma to the skin, will trigger the body’s healing response. In order to close the cut or injured site, the body essentially “stitches” the skin together with scar tissue. Scar tissue is a collection of proteins, primarily collagen. Now, a hypertrophic scar is the scientific name for these formations of scar tissue. Hypertrophic scars will usually heal over time, leaving only a faint indentation or discoloration to prove it was ever there. However, this dissolution process can take years. Whereas, contracture scars are the scientific name for severe burn injuries. Contracture is the process certain burn scars undergo, when the skin thickens, pulling the surrounding tissue taught and preventing freedom of movement. While laser treatment is an option, for most contracture scars, a plastic surgeon will recommend removing the scar tissue entirely.
Stretch marks are also a type of scar. When the skin stretches or shrinks abruptly, the underlying layer of collagen and elastin fibers rupture. This rupture is visible even through the uppermost layer of the skin, the epidermis. These can occur during pregnancy, puberty, weight loss, and weight gain. Similarly, acne scars occur when the walls of an inflamed pore rupture, causing damage to the surrounding tissue. Cysts and nodules, present in severe acne, occur deep within the dermis and can cause intense scarring. Both stretch marks and acne scars alike are aesthetic concerns which can drastically affect people’s lives. In the next section, we’ll discuss the psychological impact scars can have on us.
The Effect of Scars
A short study, titled ‘The Psychology of Scar: A Mini-Review’ by Mildred Ngaage and Mark Agius, featured in a 2018 edition of Psychiatria Danubina, noted the effect of scars on self-confidence is overwhelmingly negative. According to the study, individuals with scars can undergo “a remodeling of their emotional state and are more prone to the development of depression and anxiety,” as well as feelings of shame. Due to a sense of perceived inadequacy, those with scars can find they are unable to communicate effectively, cultivate intimacy, and resist avoidant behaviors.
While most people have several scars located in various places across their bodies, those with highly visible scars report feeling “othered.” In another study in the Journal of Plastic, Reconstructive & Aesthetic Surgery, of the 573 statements collected by researchers, these were the common themes: physical comfort, acceptance from self and others, social functioning, confidence and management of condition, and emotional well-being. The majority of participants in the study felt their scars negatively affected every single one of these areas.
High visibility, uncommon textures, and high contrast contribute to people’s uncomfortableness with their own scars. While there’s nothing out of the ordinary or shameful about having scars, their ability to stunt your growth and mitigate your sense of self-worth cannot be underestimated.
How does skin resurfacing work?
There are several forms of skin resurfacing available for the treatment of scars. The most common and least invasive method of resurfacing scars in laser treatment. This method utilizes focused light therapy to increase cell turnover and rid the skin of damaged cells. The second most common and slightly more invasive technique is microneedling. This method uses thin, hair-like needles to invoke the body's healing response and increase the production of collagen (as well as new cells). The Breast Place offers the best of both worlds with Secret RF.
Secret RF is a microneedling device combined with fractional radio frequency. A type of dermal remodeling, Secret RF works by causing tissue coagulation and hemostasis. Tissue coagulation is the means by which hemostasis—stopping the flow of blood—occurs. Consider our previous explanation of what a scar is and how it forms as a result of the body’s healing process. In the same manner the scar formed, Secret RF technology is able to reverse the process. Secret RF can penetrate the skin at various depths (from 0.5 mm to 3.5 mm), allowing technicians to tailor each treatment to the type of scar being treated. Once embedded, the insulated needles then deliver high-frequency radio waves directly into the skin. These frequencies, in addition to the creation of “micro wounds,” stimulate the skin to repair itself. The treatment can be done in under twenty minutes and with minimal pain, yet yields significant improvements in both skin quality and texture.
We hope we’ve given you the information you need to make an informed decision concerning your treatment options. If a scar is currently impacting your quality of life, do not hesitate to reach out to us for a consultation. We’ll give you even more information on the procedure and how long it will take to see results. Our kind staff are here to help walk you through every step of the way. Give us a call or fill out one of the contact forms scattered around our website and we’ll be in touch! Thank you for reading and we hope you’ll return for our future articles!