The skin is the largest organ in the human body. It faces the outside world while protecting what’s inside the body. Trauma, therefore, has to hit the skin first before it can damage the rest of the body. Dr. Joel Aronowitz knows all about the scars resulting from trauma and how to minimize them.
Trauma By The Numbers
The ER sees 37 million trauma cases per year. Six million of those traumas are car crashes, seven million are industrial traumas, and physical violence accounts for ten million men and women sustaining trauma per year.
Why Scar Revision Is Vital To Patients
When there’s trauma, there’s usually a scar. Some scars can be hidden beneath clothing. Others are glaringly obvious, such as facial and neck scars. This causes trauma that’s not quite so obvious, meaning that physical scarring leaves emotional scars.
Patients who constantly explain the circumstances behind their scars to curious people begin to withdraw from society. They stay indoors, their personal relationships suffer, they lose their communication skills, work and play suffer, and the person’s self-esteem disappears. Plastic surgeons can alleviate this suffering in their patients by performing scar revisions.
How Does Scar Revision Work?
Three types of scars will require scar revision. All three are subject to surgery, although other methods of mitigation are available.
Keloid Scars Or Scar Tissue
Thick, raised, red skin cells gather around the wound to protect it. Scar tissue can be treated with:
- Steroids. Injection into the scar tissue decreases redness, and itching, and sometimes reduces the size of the scarring.
- Cryotherapy. The scar tissue is frozen off the body.
- Pressure therapy. An appliance is worn over the scar tissue for up to six months.
- Surgery. This could consist of removing scar tissueand closing up the site or performing a skin graft on the scar tissue.
Similar to keloid scars, hypertrophic scars remain with the original wound. A surgical scar, for instance, will look like this. It often heals on its own, but steroid injections can help the healing process.
When a wound is healed, the scar pulls the surrounding skin tight. This results in pain, especially in the joints, and could end up in disability. Skin grafts are usually the answer.
How Does Scar Revision Work, Part Two
When injections and other methods of mitigation aren’t enough, surgery may be:
- Skin grafts. Portions of skin from other parts of the body are grafted onto the scarred area.
- Z-plasty. A z-shaped incision is made through the scar and surrounding healthy skin. The skin flaps are then closed with stitches. The original scar and its tension are thus minimized.
- Tissue expansion. A balloon is placed beneath the skin. As the balloon expands, so does the skin to cover the scarred area.
To summarize, scar revision is necessary when scarred skin is tight and uncomfortable or when it is in a prominent area of the body and is unsightly. It’s not all vanity, though, because scars can become cancerous and obstruct bodily and organ functions depending on where the scar is located. Be sure to have an esteemed surgeon check on your scars regularly so patients remain healthy.