Scars and Stretch Marks
Scars are areas of tissue that replace normal skin after an injury. Skin scars result as wounds repair itself and the surrounding skin. With the exception of very minor cuts and bruises, every wound will result in some degree of scarring.
How scars look once healed is determined by the manner in which the collagen produced extends over the damaged skin tissue in the healing process. Excessive collagen produced in the healing process will result in a raised scar whereas a pitted scar will result when the collagen produced in the healing process is insufficient and does not extend over and cover the damaged tissue.
While acne scars could possibly be hypertrophic scars or keloid scars, the most common type of scars resulting from chronic acne are atrophic (pitted) scars caused by a lack of collagen produced in the healing process. These pitted scars take on different shapes and sizes of skin indentation: ice pick scars are deep, narrow scars which form pits in the skin; rolling (thumbprint) scars create a wavelike appearance due to their wide and shallow depth; boxcar scars have angular, well defined edges around the scar’s indentation and are similar to chicken pox scars.
Hypertrophic scars occur when the body overproduces collagen, which causes the scar to be elevated above the surrounding skin. Hypertrophic scars take the form of a raised lump on the skin but the scar tissue will not extend beyond the boundary of the original wound and should reduce with the passage of time.
In contrast to hypertrophic scars, keloid scars expand beyond the boundary of the original wound and can increase over time as the body continues to produce more and more masses of collagen at the area of the wound. The scar tends to be rubbery and firm to the touch and may be itchy.
Contracture scars result from burn injuries. These scars tighten skin, which may affect your mobility and flexibility especially if the burn is at a joint area. Contracture scars may also go deeper into the skin with potential impact to muscles and nerves.
Stretch marks (or striae) occur when your body grows quickly, irrespective of the reason, and are a form of scarring. As your skin stretches rapidly it relies on its store of collagen to make your skin more elastic to respond to the stress on the skin. If your skin does not have enough collagen, marks may appear as the skin stretches and the dermis tears. Stretch marks appear as thin, indented streaks generally on the shoulders, abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks and thighs. They can vary in colour and can appear as pink, red, black, blue or purple streaks.
You can get stretch marks as a result of pregnancy, rapid weight gain, being overweight, childhood growth spurts, breast enlargement procedures, bodybuilding, high cortisone levels, high amount of steroid use, or from certain genetic disorders.
(Results may vary with each individual and are not guaranteed)
There are a number of safe options available to reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks and it is important that you seek out treatments and procedures that are suitable for your skin type and condition.
Fractional laser technology is a recommended option to reduce the appearance of unwanted scars. Pulses of laser light are gently delivered to the treatment area to break down the scar tissue and help generate healthy new skin. This fractional laser technology is also used to target and break down stretch marks, triggering new tissue production underneath the skin. The new collagen generated helps to improve both the texture and color of the stretch marks. Retinoid creams may also improve the appearance of stretch marks if used within a few months of getting stretch marks.