Scarred for Life Not Necessarily. (Wounds)

USA TODAY, February 2003 | Go to article overview

Scarred for Life Not Necessarily. (Wounds)


Unless you are a war hero who wears scars with pride and patriotism, most people with those indelible marks would rather they just fade away. However, nearly half of those who have scars think there is no option but to live with them, according to a survey conducted by the maker of Cured Scar Therapy Cosmetic Pad.

David J. Leffell, chief of dermatologic and laser surgery at Yale-New Haven (Conn.) Hospital, explains that, while all scars are permanent, how they appear compared to the original skin can be managed to a satisfactory level. "In the end, whether a scar is large or small, it can be improved to become less noticeable, blending better with one's natural skin texture and color"

While time heals most wounds, scars remain forever, but today there are medical procedures and cosmetic products to help reduce their visibility. The following scar management options are now available, each with a different level of cost, pain, and results:

Surgery can never completely remove a scar (another one will form), but it can be used to alter a scar's position, alignment, or shape. Sometimes, surgery may be required for a tight scar on a joint that is restricting movement. Problem scars, such as those considered hypertrophic or keloid, should usually not be reduced surgically, since they have a high risk of recurrence. Cost is $1,000-10,000 per procedure and, since this is normally considered cosmetic, insurance companies offer no reimbursement. There is no guarantee that another noticeable scar will not form in place of the old scar or that the second scar will not be worse than the first. Just one percent of people have turned to this type of option for scar management.

Laser surgery and resurfacing. Although lasers can be helpful for eliminating the redness in scars, there are few long-term studies to prove the effectiveness and safety of this therapy, since a new, just-as-problematic scar can result. These procedures can cost $350-500 per treatment and are considered cosmetic, so insurance companies offer no reimbursement. Results vary depending on the scar and the individual.

Steroid injections can help to soften and flatten a hypertrophic or keloid scar in the first few weeks of healing. …

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