Kenneth Beer, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist in Palm Beach, Fla., and the director of scientificskin.com, an online skincare company. He is also the director of The Cosmetic Bootcamp, which trains physicians in best practices for cosmetic medicine. Dr. Beer is an instructor in dermatology at the University of Miami, and he is an A.B. Duke Scholar at Duke University. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and received his dermatology and dermatophathology training at the University of Chicago. Visit Dr. Beer's office at palmbeachcosmetic.com.
 
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New Hope for Scars

Thursday, 14 Apr 2011 11:55 AM


Most of us have had an injury that resulted in a scar. The location and severity of the injury have a great deal to do with its appearance.
Genetics and how we repair our injuries also play a role in what it ultimately looks like. Certain scars, such as those from a sharp object that makes a clean injury, heal nicely. Others, such as scars from burns or skin cancer removal, tend to look more pronounced.
Fortunately, as dermatologists and plastic surgeons are looking at new ways to treat scars, we are learning a great deal about managing them.
You can avoid some scars by using sun protection and limiting the amount of time you spend in the sun, which reduces your risk of skin cancer.
However, if you think a mole might be skin cancer, show it to a dermatologist and have it removed early. Once the cancer is removed, there will be a scar. It does not matter how great the suturing is or who does the work. The type of scar, however, depends on its size and location and the skill of the dermatologic or plastic surgeon who reconstructs it. The patient’s underlying health also greatly affects the outcome.
Scars from surgical procedures or injuries can now be treated with lasers. For years, dermatologists have been using pulsed-dye lasers to treat scars that are red or pink. Typically, these involve several treatments and the scar gets softer and less prominent.
More recently, we have begun to use fractionated lasers to drill microscopic holes into the scar. This enables the body to remodel at a more controlled rate and frequently can be used to improve the scar’s appearance.
We use two lasers to do this — ablative and non-ablative. Ablative lasers make deeper holes in the skin and require a longer healing process that lasts one to two weeks.
Non-ablative lasers can be used to drill more shallow holes for superficial scars. Both may be used for acne scars and stretch marks.
Less-sophisticated approaches to scar management include injections with cortisone. These have been used for decades and tend to work well. They can, however, leave dents and white marks where they have been injected.
Scarring is an unfortunate part of life. Whether from acne, chicken pox, surgery, or trauma, the damage lasts a lifetime and can be profound. With the advent of new treatments, however, we can now offer some hope.

© HealthDay

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