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Section: Asian Skin and Hair Treatments

Skin Scarring, Remedies & Scar Revision

A scar is an area of fibrous tissue (mostly collagen) that replaces normal tissue in reaction to an injury. Wound healing can be negatively influenced by a wide variety of factors including smoking, diabetes, vascular disease, heart disease, immunological deficiencies, use of anti-inflammatory medicines, poor nutrition, excessive alcohol consumption, disturbed sleep patterns, and stress.

Scars that markedly overproduce collagen becomes raised and are called "hypertrophic." Keloids are more serious and can progress relentlessly into shiny and/or elevated reddened growths.

asian keloid scar
A true keloid

While Asian skin is often said to scar excessively, most surgeons would dispute this, noting that while initial scarring may seem to be more vigorous and thus noticeable, the final result is generally comparable to scars in non-Asian skin.

If skin is cut, it will always heal by producing a scar. Most such normal scars are not perfectly flat, and none are invisible. All are either slightly raised, some slightly sunken, and some, like stretch marks, can be thin and discolored.

No normal scar can be obliterated by more surgery since this simply replaces one scar with another. Laser surgery may sometimes lessen some of the redness but is not very effective at flattening and is totally ineffective at eliminating depressions.

The only effective method for improving on bad, ugly abnormal scarring is careful scar revision by an expert surgeon skilled at a textbook full of advanced techniques and tricks.

Less invasive treatments have been suggested, and some may (but usually don't) help a little. Silicone sheeting placed over a true hypertrophic or keloid scar may flatten it slightly; placed over a normal or poorly sutured scar, it will accomplish next to nothing. Steroid injections may help in some people, although they can also cause thinning and lumpiness.

Other less complicated medical treatments may include dermabrasion, injecting fillers, use of low-dose radiation, and "needling" to stimulate deeper collagen production.

So what about about those expensive over-the-counter scar creams and ointments you read about in every beauty magazine?

Don't get your hopes up. Controlled medical studies have shown no improvement in still-healing scars or mature scars with heavily marketed preparations such as, for instance, Mederma or Strivectin.

Any good moisturizer will make some scars look a little better by plumping up the tissue. Vitamin E, frequently claimed to have work wonders, has not only proven ineffective in controlled research studies but in some cases can worsen the outcome.

And what about all the new and seemingly miraculous products claiming to do things like stimulating skin remodeling using fancy compounds like copper peptides and DNA regeneration compounds and nearly every vitamin and antioxidant you've ever heard of?

Most will thin your wallet more effectively than your scar. Garden-variety healing and scars that are already mature do not respond in the slightest.

Fortunately, most scars tend to improve slowly over many years, sometimes eventually becoming almost invisible. They are a normal part of healing and an expected consequence of cutting through living tissue. The only successful way to "eliminate" them fully is to cover them with makeup.

• Update: Do silicone gel sheets speed healing of normal surgical scars in Asians?

Next: Tattoos and Laser Removal

on Asian Skin and Hair >

Skin and Hair Medical Treatment Overview
Introduction to Asian skin physiology and general care guidelines

Asian Skin Anatomy and Healing
Overview of skin structure and why Asian skin ages and heals differently

Sun Damage and Sunscreens
Selecting sun protection lotions, creams, and gels that actually work

Bleaching to Whiten Skin Color
Effective and safer lightening options for sensitive Asian skin

Laser Resurfacing & Chemical Peel
Issues relating to resurfacing procedures on darker Asian skin

Radio-Frequency Plasma Resurfacing
Deeper skin resurfacing with "cold" RF energy to lessen pigmentary risks

Non-Invasive Treatments
Spa-level treatments such as IPL, weak lasers, microdermabrasion, and more

Restylane, Juvederm, BOTOX ®
Injectable pharmaceuticals to modulate skin and muscle appearance and movement

Scalp, Face & Body Hair Transplants
Special issues related to Asian hair replacement on the scalp and body

Asian Skin and Scarring
Prevention of keloids and hypertrophic scarring in Asian skin

Tattoos and Laser Removal
Tattoo removal using the Q-switched laser to minimize scarring and skin pigment damage

Laser Hair Removal from Asian Skin
Removing unwanted hair from the face, neck, underarms, legs, and other areas

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Frank Meronk, Jr., M.D.
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Note: Information, observations, and opinions are offered for general reference only and should not be taken as medical advice or diagnosis.

Learn about Asian skin, scarring, and scar revision