Treatment to Alleviate Symptoms of Existing Keloids
Thick, raised, scars may remain noticeable years after a wound has fully healed. Keloid scars typically form on the earlobes, cheeks, or shoulders and can grow larger than the original wound. Luckily there are modern treatment options available.
How Long Do Scars Last?
Unfortunately, there is no prescribed amount of time for a scar to heal. Unlike regular scarring that can come from sports or accidents, keloid scars are overgrown. Depending on the depth of the wound, keloid scars can last for months or even years.
Why Do Keloid Scars Last Longer?
Usually, scars will fade over the course of a year or two. This happens with minor scrapes and burns. Scars that do not fade are more likely to have a thicker texture due to an overreaction of the skin.
Dermatologists recommend following all safety precautions to prevent these scars from ever occurring in the first place. A keloid scar can be treated, but the options largely depend on the individual. Some treatments are not possible if the scar is too large.
Is It a Keloid Scar or a Hypertrophic Scar?
A hypertrophic scar is another abnormal reaction to skin damage. Although they may appear raised, hypertrophic scars will eventually shrink in size. Only keloid scars grow larger than the original wound.
Both types of scars are similar by nature. The outer layer of skin does not mature properly while the inner layer lacks functional cell development. Just by looking at them, both scars may be difficult to tell apart.
Symptoms of Keloid Scars
Darker skin pigment is often associated with keloid scarring, but almost anyone can experience the damage. Contrary to popular belief, raised scarring does not always appear right away. In fact, most of the time it takes 3 – 12 months for it to become apparent.
Keloid scars grow beyond the original skin damage. Some scars can even spread twice as far as the wound. Patients have been known to experience light tingling prior to the development of a large scar.
Itchy scars that are painful to scratch is another sign you may have keloid scars. If the area feels tender or irritated, it is always best to see a professional. This is especially true if the wound has not entirely healed.
As for the color, most scars turn white after a certain amount of time. Keloid scars, however, may have the opposite effect. It’s normal to see a keloid scar turn from pink to red before darkening even deeper.
Is Treatment Necessary?
Keloids are rarely dangerous but can affect the quality of life. Generally, these scars are itchy or painful and if they are located in a visible area, some people feel self-conscious. While the keloid itself is not usually worrisome, it can be a sign of skin cancer.
Causes for keloids include genetics, body piercings, insect bites, vaccination sites, and surgical cuts. When the skin cells found in connective tissue overreact, the extra production of collagen is what creates the scar. In almost all cases the scar is formed due to an injury.
Available Treatment Options
A medical professional will have to diagnose the scar before considering treatment options. Usually, an exam is done to make sure there are no underlying medical issues. This will provide the information you need to choose the right healthcare necessary.
Silicone gel can help shrink raised scarring. This is generally used out of cosmetic concern and can be done from home. Silicone is relatively easy to use and carries a low risk of infection.
It helps by facilitating the production of collagen to heal at a faster rate. This can be used in the beginning stages of scarring in addition to a preventative care tool. Silicone gel is said to protect the scar tissue from bacteria.
Although silicone gel can be purchased over-the-counter, it will remove the keloid itself. It does have the potential to shrink and flatten existing keloids.
Cryotherapy refers to the freezing of skin tissue. In this case, the treatment is done by a professional with a handheld medical device. The device may be painful depending on the scar, but it does subside after an hour or two.
Unfortunately, cryotherapy is not just a one-and-done kind of treatment. It usually takes several treatment sessions to reduce the size of keloids. This is a more powerful option than silicone gel, but will still not completely remove keloid scarring.
Cryotherapy is ideal for scars that are less than 4 years old. Larger scars may take more time to heal and can require additional sessions. If you only want to book one appointment, this treatment can be troublesome.
There are multiple kinds of steroids available for different uses. The kind of steroids that boost testosterone and muscle mass is not the kind that is used for keloid scars. This type of steroid is injected into the scar so that collagen fiber can be broken down.
The shots will reduce the appearance of smaller keloid scars. This type of treatment combined with cryotherapy may be able to reduce larger scars that do not benefit from freezing or gel alone.
Is It Possible to Completely Remove Keloid Scars?
Yes. Over-the-counter medication will not work for the total removal of scars. Luckily there are surgical options that will get the job done.
Plastic surgeons are qualified to remove keloid scars in an outpatient setting. This option does not take as long as you would think and can be completed in one hour. Technically, you could go during your lunch break.
Does It Hurt?
The surgical incisions are small in order to minimize the risk of future scarring. Depending on where the keloids are located, post-surgery may require more or less pain management. In general, the recovery time is no longer than one or two weeks.
Where To Go
Both small and large keloid scars can be treated with surgery. If you’re interested in a permanent way to heal scars, call The Keloid Plastic Surgery Center at 833.453.5643.