SCARS AND STRETCH MARKS
Our skin is an amazing organ, giving us structure with the flexibility to move, and protecting us from damage and environmental exposure. However, as our outermost shell, our skin comes into daily contact with our harsh environment such as the sun’s UV rays and air pollution, and is constantly at risk of sustaining injury and other damage. When the skin is injured or damaged in some way, our body’s natural wound-healing response is the production of a thick, fibrous tissue we know as “scar tissue”. Scar tissues contain very high levels of collagen—the protein in our skin responsible for jump-starting the production of new skin cells in the place of those that have been damaged. Scars become visible when the collagen at the area of injury exceeds the needs of the damaged tissue.
While every scar is unique and highly dependent on the severity and type of damage, as well as the skin type and health of the individual patient, dermatologists generally categorize scars in four broad groups:
- Discoloration and Surface Irregularities: These scars are not painful or impede functionality, but they can be emotionally devastating, especially if large, highly visible, and/or widespread.
- Stretch marks: Resulting from rapid growth or hormonal changes, stretch marks are caused by tearing in the underlying layer of skin tears, usually on the stomach, hips, and/or thighs.
- Hypertropic Scars: These raised and red clusters of star tissue can be extremely painful. They can expand in width over time, and are usually lighter or darker than the patient’s original skin.
- Keloid Scars: Keloid scars are usually larger than hypertropic scars, and are usually larger than the wound area itself. They may be itchy or painful, and have a tendency to pucker.
- Contractures: When an injury crosses a joint or involves a significant amount of tissue loss, the underlying tissues pull together during the healing process, potentially restricting movement.
At Gentle Touch Aesthetics and Wellness, located in Los Gatos, California, our medical staff understand the discomfort, embarrassment, and even depression that visible scars can have on an otherwise healthy individual. By combining cutting-edge scar revision techniques with a holistic approach designed to treat the whole individual from the inside out, the staff at Gentle Touch Aesthetics and Wellness can help all their patients achieve optimal results.
SCAR REVISION OPTIONS
During your initial consultation at Gentle Touch Aesthetics and Wellness, you will be provided with a thorough medical evaluation to determine the type, size, severity, and location of your scar in order to determine which revision technique (or combination of techniques) is best suited to reduce or possibly eliminate the appearance of your scar tissue. Gentle Touch Aesthetics and Wellness employs the very latest wound healing technologies, and we pride ourselves on the ability to accomplish success where others before us have failed. In generally, the younger the scar is, the more complete the revision will be; in fact, the sooner treatment begins, even on a fresh wound, the greater the changes for a complete or nearly-complete revision. Nonetheless, dramatic results may be obtained even with older scars.
Each scar is unique. Therefore, each scar presents its own set of complex issues, in many cases requiring treatment with multiple modalities simultaneously in order to effectively decrease or eliminate the build-up of excess collagen causing the scar. Such modalities may include platelet rich plasma (PRP) or other wound-healing medicinal cocktails designed to boost the body’s own ability to generate new, healthy skin cells in place of the scar tissue. Energy-based treatments such as fractional laser or fractional radiofrequency (RF) technologies may prove effective at breaking up the thick, fibrous collagen and stimulating the growth of new skin cells, as may mechanical treatments such as microneedling, minor abrasion, or debridement. Generally, the fusion of two or more of these treatments will be required to obtain the best results.
In the case of severe scars, or scars that physically impede mobility or other functionality, surgical scar revision may be required. These techniques may include complex flap closure, pharmaceutical tissue substitutes, or tissue expansion (used as an alternative to skin grafts).