"The Healthy Geezer" answers questions about health and aging in his weekly column.
Question: I have a nasty-looking scar that shows only when I wear a bathing suit. I’d like to get rid of it, if possible. What’s available?
Answer: There is no procedure yet that will make a scar disappear completely. However, there are treatments to make a scar less noticeable. These include:
Surgical Scar Revision: This is a method of removing a scar and rejoining the normal skin. Wide scars can often be made thinner. Long scars can be made shorter. Using broken-line incisions can make scars harder to notice. Sometimes, a surgeon can hide a scar by redirecting it into a wrinkle or a hairline.
Dermabrasion: A surgeon uses an electrical dermabrasion machine to remove the top layers of skin. This process gives the skin a smoother surface. Dermabrasion is used for treating acne scars, pockmarks, some surgical scars, or minor irregularities.
Laser Scar Revision: Another method of improving scars is laser scar revision. High-energy light is used to treat damaged skin. Different lasers are available for treating a variety of scars. For example, a pulsed dye laser uses yellow light to remove scar redness and to flatten raised scars (hypertrophic scars or keloids).
Soft Tissue Fillers: There are injectable substances such as fat, collagen and hyaluronic acid, that are used to treat indented soft scars.
Punch Grafts: Punch grafts are small pieces of normal skin used to replace scarred skin. A tiny circular cutter is used to cut a hole in the skin and remove the scar. The area is then filled in with a matching piece of unscarred skin.
Chemical Peels: This procedure uses a chemical to remove the top layer of the skin and smooth depressed scars. It is most helpful for superficial scars.
Pressure bandages and massages: These can both flatten some scars if used on a regularly for several months.
Silicone gels: Silicone-impregnated gels can be used at home to remodel elevated scars. They must also be used regularly.
Cryosurgery: This technique freezes upper skin layers and causes blistering of the skin to remove the excess tissue at the scar.
Cortisone injections: These are effective in shrinking and flattening very firm scars. This treatment is popular for hypertrophic scars and keloids.
Interferon: This is a chemical that is injected into the scar. It may improve the appearance of a scar.
Cosmetics: Make-up applied correctly can be very good at covering up scars.
If you would like to read more columns, you can order a copy of "How to be a Healthy Geezer" at www.healthygeezer.com.
All rights reserved © 2012 by Fred Cicetti
Live Science newsletter
Stay up to date on the latest science news by signing up for our Essentials newsletter.