Scars Why They Form And How To Improve Appearance

(Last Updated On: June 1, 2020)

Scars : Why They Form And How To Improve Their Appearance

scars and how to get rid of them

There is not many of us who do not have a scar or two,  the result of an old injury, skin condition a childhood illness or even surgery.

A natural part of the body’s healing process, scars are the result of the biological processes involved in the repair of our skin and the tissue beneath.

What Causes Scars

Scarring generally occurs when the deep thick layer of skin ( called the dermis) is damaged. As the body works to heal the damage, First it forms a blood clot on the surface to cover the wound, then it starts the healing process.

The dermis gets to work, and sends the cells responsible for collagen production (AKA Fibroblasts) to repair the damaged area. 

Because of the body’s hurry to heal itself it quickly forms and uses new collagen fibres to repair the injury. In its haste to produce the collagen, it may not be laid out in the precise lattice work patten found in undamaged skin.

skin structure

Therefore this new tissue tends to have a different texture to the surrounding skin tissue, this makes it look and feel different from the surrounding area.

There are a number of types of scars, the majority tend to be flat and rather pale in colour. Some scars can become raised, this is due to the body overproducing collagen. These scars are known as keloid or hypertrophic scars.

Its not uncommon for keloid scars to increase in size over time.

keloid scar

Other scars can have the appearance of being pitted or sunken, these are called Atrophic scars. 

These are more common after surgery, childhood illnesses such as chickenpox or in some cases of severe acne. This occurs when some of the lower levels of fat or muscle are lost or damaged, which reduces the support for the skin.

atrophic scars

Other types of scars include:

Icepick Scars: 

Deep indented scars that resemble a large open pore. They generally occur when inflammation causes the collapse of the collagen below the skins surface.

Rolling Scars:

Scars with rolling edges that are generally grouped together to give the appearance of a larger continuous scar.

These are caused when the subcutaneous layer below the skins surface creates fibrous tissue that puts the upper layers downwards.

types of scars

Boxcar Scars:

Normally occurring when a cyst destroys the fat cells below the skin surface. This results in a deep, broad depression or indentation with defined edges.


Scars that the the form of a dark spot (or spots) on the skins surface, similar to a freckle, they occur when the natural production of melanin increases in response to injury or the inflammation caused by acne breakouts.

Contracture Scars:

Usually the result of a large loss of skin, commonly associated with severe burns. The skin tightens as it heals to form shiny, tight skin that can restrict movement in that area 

Stretch Marks:

stretch marks

The most common form of all scarring, commonly found in women after pregnancy, but equally commonplace in both sexes especially after growth spurts during puberty.

They can appear as both darker or purple raised lines or the silvery white streaks that appear especially around the thighs, hips, upper legs and tummy.

Its cause isn’t fully understood, but it is believed that the stretching of the skin damages and reduces the elasticity of the tissues within the dermis which leads to scaring. 

Some experts also believe that high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can also leave you more prone to stretchmarks.

Treating And Removing Scars

Its very difficult to remove scars completely, however its quite possible to dramatically reduce their appearance.

If you do sustain a wound:

  • Do Not Pick: If you can avoid the temptation to pick at a scab, its far less likely to turn into a scar.
  • Cover And Protect The Wound: Keep a wound clean and covered, and maintaining its moisture by using medicated ointment.
  • AfterCare: After the wound has fully healed, use a good SPF cream to protect and stop the scarred area from darkening at a different rate to the surrounding skin.

Some common treatment methods are listed below:

Topical Scar Creams: There are a number of effective skin care products available that can help reduce the appearance of scarring. 

Common ingredients include Vitamin E and Cocoa butter cream. 

Applied daily they can be quite effective at helping to heal and reduce the appearance of most scars.

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Surgery: Not the most popular option, but surgery on an unsightly scar may help reduce its appearance. This approach is not recommended for raised scars (Keloid and Hypertrophic scars) as the surgery can often make the appearance worse.

Dermabrasion: The outer layers of the skin containing the scar are removed with dedicated equipment. This can blend away the scar into the surrounding area and reduce its appearance.

dermabrasion on face

Microdermabrasion: similar to above , but a more gentle treatment used on very small, superficial scars

Steroid Injections: Used especially in the treatment of raised scars. The steroid can sometimes help to make the scar flatter and less prominent.

Radiotherapy: Reserved for very severe cases of keloid and hypertrophic scarring, Can prevent the reoccurrence of scars but can also have some potential long term side effects.

Filler Injections: A temporary fix to sunken scars, filler is injected into the scar and surrounding area, lifting and plumping the scar, reducing is visibility. This option needs repeating regularly.

Laser Resurfacing: Similar in its effects to dermabrasion, the doctor removes top layers of skin containing the scar with a laser. 

There have been advancements in this form of treatment with newer type lasers actually effecting the build up of collagen below the skins surface without harming the surface itself. 

These newer treatments have a much faster recovery time than older laser treatments.

Microneedling: Using a roller or other tool containing numerous small needles.

When applied to the skins surface, small shallow punctures are made into the skin which can help stimulate collagen production, this can help improve the appearance of scars.

My Final Thoughts

Scars may be unsightly, but remember they are reminders of your life, and experiences, a ‘badge of honour’. 

Wether you decide to try and reduce their appearance or just decide to live with them, you should always do whats right for you and your skin.

If you have any questions about scars and how to treat them, ask away using the comments box below, I would love to hear from you:

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The information in this website is for advice and guidance only. It is based on my own intensive research and personal experiences, and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, or to diagnose or treat any health conditions. All rights reserved.