How do you feel about scars?

I read an article recently that discussed the question:  What would you do if you felt that no one would love you because of a scary, long scar on your body? The answers varied widely but were mostly encouraging.  Most of the respondents offered practical and encouraging advice, drawing on their own experiences as well as those of friends and family.  

“There is nothing that could happen to your body that would make you unlovable.”

“I love unusual scars on people. They’ve nearly always got an interesting story behind them.”

“The people who matter, don’t care. The people who care, don’t matter.”

Then there was the good natured recommendation to create a fantastic story around the scar to make it a talking point:  “There was no hospital, not even any doctors. The village medicine man gave me something to drink, which mostly knocked me out, and my friends held me down while he took out my appendix using a broken Coke bottle. And used twine for stitches. Look at my scar.

None of the talk was about scars that happen as a result of plastic surgery, the respondents talked about scars from car crashes, breast cancer, burns, appendix removals, etc.  Often, though, the discussion hit on using plastic surgery to cover those scars.

Hiding, concealing, masking scars

Reading the article, it was obvious that although many people’s mindset was that scars don’t matter, there was still a good bit of angst over them and a desire in many to make them go away, hide them, mask them, etc.  For this, there are basically three approaches:

  1. Wear more clothes (yawn!):  Yes, you can wear long sleeves so nobody can see the scar on your arm. You can wear a t-shirt or a one piece swim suit so nobody can see your appendix scar.  This is a viable approach although it inhibits rather than frees you from doing the things you love.
  2. Tattoos: Don’t laugh, we’re serious here.  This is a fairly common recommendation and, in fact, there is are entire websites devoted to it.  A great place to start is the Pinterest link: Scare Cover Tatoo.
  3. Plastic Surgery: You knew we’d get here eventually.  Yes, plastic surgery is a great way, by far the most common, to conceal or mask a scar.  Professionals the world over have become very, very good at doing this and consulting with a surgeon would probably be an enlightening experience for you if this is new ground.  The technology and capabilities are pretty astounding.

Scar Revision Surgery: Plastic Surgery to hide scars

The first thing to realize is that scars are unavoidable results of injury or surgery.  They are the visible signs that remains after the wound has healed and their formation and development is unpredictable.  Each scar is different as is the surround tissue and skin tone.  All of this goes into the decision how best to approach the scar from a plastic surgery point of view.  Regardless of how the process unfolds, you must remember that a scar can never be completely erased.  It’s appearance can be minimized, but not erased.

There are topical as well as surgical means to address scarring and depending on the severity of the scar, a topical approach may be all that’s needed.  Injectable fillers, light therapy, dermabrasion and chemical peeling are a few of these options and, again, your plastic surgeon will go over each with you.

Surgery to address the scar will be different for each patient but generally adheres to the following:

  • Surgery can remove the scar altogether, although the surgery itself will leave a scar. This is somewhat akin to trading a smaller scar for a larger scar.
  • Once the scar is removed, skin flaps of healthy skin are lifted and moved to form a new incision line.  This new incision line is your new scar.
  • If a skin flap is not available, a graft from another part of the body is possible
  • Z-plasty is a means of moving a scar into a natural fold or crease of the body, thereby minimizing it’s visibility.  This does not remove all signs of the scar but does make it less visible.