28 August 2012

What's behind the scar?

We get them virtually from anything. Acne scars, burn scars, surgical scars, accident scars and the dreaded stretch marks. Scarring is a natural part of the healing process.


We get them virtually from anything. Acne scars, burn scars, surgical scars, accident scars and the dreaded stretch marks. Scarring is a natural part of the healing process.

Do you have a scar that tells a story of an accident you survived or an illness you’ve battled? We’d love to hear your story, and if you like send us a picture of that impressive scar!

How scars are formed

When skin or organs are cut, the healing process involves forming of new tissue to heal the injury. When this tissue is healed, it forms a scar. Scar tissue is made from fibrous connective tissue which is paler and denser because it has a less of a blood supply than "normal" tissue and it is less movable, and has less sensation. With time it shrinks and can then cause obstruction of the bowel, says CyberDoc.

Most scars are flat and pale. Some scars can have a sunken or pitted appearance. Scars also can appear as stretched skin. Such scars result when the skin stretches rapidly, as in growth spurts or during pregnancy.

A scar is a constant reminder of the past trials that many have overcome. People are motivated each and every time when they stare at their mark. Many embrace their scars proudly because it helps their self-esteem. No looking further for inspiration when your scar is the only needed reminder that live is short.

Treating a scar

If there is no abnormal wound healing such as hypertrophic scarring or keloid formation, then your best approach would be to only use over the counter treatments. Most scars tend to fade or heel quite nicely within the first year following surgery and it is not recommended to treat normal scar development during this time period, says an anti-ageing expert.

After the year is over, one can consider various types of laser or even surgical scar revision if necessary. Needling has shown good results with scars and variable results may be achieved with light glycolic acid peels and at home topical treatments. The use of LED technology has also shown good results with healing scars.

Share your story

If you have a scar email us email us a picture of it along with some details: Where on your body is the scar? How long have you had it? What significance does it have for you?

We will create a gallery selected from the pictures and stories we receive.

(Tashreeq Vardien, Health24, August 2012)

(References - Mathematical Modelling of Scar Tissue Formation, WebMD, Health24)


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Skin expert

Dr Suretha Kannenberg holds a degree in Medicine and a Masters in Dermatology from the University of Stellenbosch. She is employed as a consultant dermatologist by Stellenbosch University and Tygerberg Academic Hospital, where she is involved in clinical duties and the training of medical students and dermatology residents. Her areas of interest and research include vitiligo, eczema and acne. She also performs limited private practice work in the Northern suburbs of Cape Town in general and cosmetic dermatology.

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