Many of my patients come to my clinic seeking treatment for scar removal, so I decided to put together this succinct guide to address some of their most common queries.
So if you are wondering about:
- Whether you can get rid of keloid scars
- How old scars can be removed
- When is the best time to treat scars
- How to treat acne and chickenpox scars..
Read on! :-)
"I hate my scars! Am I stuck with them for life?"
Many patients whom seek me out often suffer from scars as a result of injury, or surgery.
The good news is that the vast majority of them can be successfully treated.
The most common type of scars can be:
Thanks to modern technology, there are now effective ways to improve their appearance. The most important thing to is to identify the TYPE of scar, before tailoring a unique treatment approach.
Treatment strategies to get rid of scars have evolved over the last decade, from simple creams and steroid injections, to laser treatments or combination therapy using different methods.
"Should I wait for 6 - 12 months before treating my scars?"
In a word, no.
The latest evidence shows that EARLY TREATMENT of scars result in a far better final outcome. This is contrary to the belief that scars should be allowed to "mature", before treating them.
Early treatment of scars leads to much less obvious scars, and an improved cosmetic outcome.
For patients post-surgery who are concerned about surgical scars, I tend to recommend treatment as early as 2-3 weeks after the stitches are removed.
Can old scars from 20 years ago still be treated?
Yes, even scars from 20 years ago can be improved, especially if they are raised or depressed.
Discoloured scars that leave brown or pink marks can also be effectively treated.
However, do note that very old scars that are flat and white tend to be the most difficult to treat.
How are raised and red keloids treated?
Singaporeans and Asians commonly suffer from raised keloid scars, especially over areas such as the chest, back, arms or even earlobes.
These disfiguring keloid scars may appear after:
- Ear piercings
They can often also be itchy and painful.
In my practice, I find that combining VBEAM pulsed dye laser and steroid injections works best for keloid scars.
This treatment helps to lighten and flatten the keloid scars, as well as stop the itchiness and pain.
For keloids on earlobes, combining CO2 laser treatment with monthly steroid injections typically produces excellent results.
"Can depressed scars on my face from acne and chickenpox be treated?"
I often see patients with depressed scars that appear sunken into the skin. The cause is often due to acne during their teenage years, chickenpox, or even accidental injuries.
The good news is that these depressed scars can be effectively treated using the fractional CO2 laser. This helps to increase collagen formation to "fill in" these depressions.
A series of 4-5 treatments are typically performed on a monthly basis for the best results.
If you have very deeply depressed scars, you can further improve these scars by:
- Adding in a TCA CROSS treatment or
- Surgically removing the deeper scars, before resurfacing your entire skin with the fractional CO2 laser
"How do I get rid of ugly red and brown marks left behind by acne?"
Red or brown marks after acne or inflammation is rather common amongst Singaporeans.
These marks can be effectively treated with minimal downtime using lightening creams and gentle lasers.
In my opinion, the VBEAM laser is highly effective for red acne marks, with visible lightening after just a few sessions.
The Genesis or Excel V laser can be used to lighten brown marks, and works especially well for uneven discolouration on the face.
How painful is scar removal?
If you have a low pain tolerance - not to worry!
Most patients undergo scar treatment with minimal discomfort.
Numbing cream is usually applied for 30 - 45 mins before the laser treatment to optimise comfort.
If steroid injections are required, they can be a little uncomfortable, much like an ant bite. However, subsequent treatments are usually less painful as the scar softens.
How much does scar removal cost in Singapore?
The cost of scar removal varies by the type of scar you have the the laser you use for the treatment.
To sum up, an unsightly scar can cause embarrassment, and may be an unwelcome reminder of a traumatic incident or a surgical procedure.
You need not live with it however, as there are now many ways of getting rid of scars, with excellent results and quick recovery. The best thing to do is to get it assessed and treated as soon as possible!
Dr Stephanie Ho is a British trained Consultant Dermatologist who is registered as a skin specialist both in Singapore and the United Kingdom. She has over 18 years of medical experience, and has practised in Edinburgh, London, Hong Kong and Singapore. She seeks to offer personalised strategies for each individual patient, bridging the gap between traditional dermatology and beauty.
- Fickl S et al. Scar Tissue Formation Following Alveolar Ridge Preservation: A Case Control Study. Int J Periodontics Restorative Dent. (2018)
- Hesketh M et al. Macrophage Phenotypes Regulate Scar Formation and Chronic Wound Healing. Int J Mol Sci. (2017)