The purpose of scar revision is to improve the appearance of unsightly facial/body scars, blemishes and moles. However, it is vital to remember that a scar cannot be completely removed and that the aim is to achieve a scar that is less conspicuous.
There are a variety of methods available for scar revision. For superficial scars, a procedure called dermabrasion is often employed during which a diamond wheel is used to plane the scar, removing the top few layers of skin, so that it heals to a more even texture. Chemical peels provide a similar effect, whereby an acid solution is applied to the affected area and removes the first few layers of skin so that it can heal to a smoother texture. Peels are usually used on facial scarring, such as acne and chicken pox scars.
Simple scars usually don’t have any complications on removal. It is only the deeper scars that need to be tended to and hence should be removed with caution. Post operation, you will be prescribed some creams to help the skin tissues heal comfortably and without causing painful side effects. Also, most scar revisions are painless, so you shouldn’t be worried about that either.
More complicated scars may be treated with either z-plasty or y-plasty, so called because of the shape of the incision made. During z-plasty or y-plasty the existing scar is removed and a new finer scar is created level with its surrounding tissue. The consultant will determine which of these procedures is most suitable having examined the scar(s).
Scar revision procedures usually take place under a local anaesthetic however, if the scars are more serious a general anaesthetic may be administered, in which case it may be necessary to stay at the hospital overnight. There is not a great amount of discomfort experienced by most scar revision patients but this is also dependent on the location and size of the scar. In most cases the wound will heal quickly however, the scar itself may not appear to have improved for 6-18 months. But it is very important to remember that scar revision does what its name suggests, it “revises” the scar, it cannot remove it.
At the consultation the surgeon will assess the scar and ask how old it is. It is important not to try to revise a scar too soon, as the initial healing tissues need to have matured (the stage at which a scar will not change or improve more).