Prevention of keloid scar after injury
July 12, 2010 2:38 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything I can do to prevent keloid scarring after a lip injury?

Last week I walked straight into a plate glass window, resulting in a broken tooth and a couple of small lacerations on my upper lip. When I went to the dentist today, he told me I might end up with a keloid scar. I'd never heard of these before, and being a hypochondriac, I should've known better than to look it up online when I got home. Now I'm kinda freaking out about the possibility of horribly disfiguring facial scarring from what seemed like a minor injury. Is there anything I can do to minimize the chance of this happening? It seems to be healing OK so far.
posted by Crane Shot to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You are going to get lots and lots and lots of anecdotal answers.

Here's my anecdotal answer: I fell onto a gravel driveway once and busted my upper lip open, along with a bunch of deep scraping all over my face. I am prone to hideous raised scarring from even very mild wounds. I panicked.

I kept everything covered and moist until the skin was pretty much healed, stayed out of the sun after that, drank a ton of water, and (gently!) massaged the areas whenever I thought about it to encourage any collagen to break up. My face healed happily scar-free.
posted by peachfuzz at 2:43 PM on July 12, 2010

On your lip, or on the skin above it? If it's on the skin above it, stay the heck out of the sun, use sunscreen, and put Neosporin on it every day religiously.

(I split my lip into a non-awesome Hitler 'stache-shaped scar last year. You can still see it, but it's not awful.)
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:44 PM on July 12, 2010

I had a mole removed that was just below my lip, and the doctor recommended I put Kelo-cote on it to minimize scarring. He said he preferred it to Mederma; it worked very well for me.
posted by mogget at 3:07 PM on July 12, 2010

I had a mole removed from my face a few years ago, and the very up-to-date-with-the-literature plastic surgeon who did it told me that I should: (1) not use vitamin E under any circumstances, as this is actually correlated with increased scarring; (2) keep it out of the sun until completely healed; and (3) use silicone scar sheets (but not silicone gels), which had been shown to have some beneficial effect on reducing scar appearance and the likelihood of raised scars.

My scar is barely, barely noticeable now, which is kind of amazing because I have the sort of skin where you can see a scratch for months after it happens. I'd tell you not to worry too much but I hated it when people said that to me; I'm not a terribly vain person but there's something deeply distressing about the prospect of permanent scars on your face. So, instead, I'll tell you to channel all of that worry into being really, really neurotic about protecting your scars from the sun, and using the little silicone scar sheets. Doing *something* made me feel more in control and less likely to ruminate, the trick is to just make sure you're not doing something that will make things worse (like vitamin E).
posted by iminurmefi at 3:20 PM on July 12, 2010

Your dentist is probably confusing keloid scars with hypertrophic scars, which is a common error. Hypertrophic scars are raised but stop at the edges of the original wound. They fade over time. Keloid scars are essentially benign tumours made of scar tissue that grow outside of the boundaries of the original wound. These are probably the disturbing photos you've seen. They're much less common than hypertrophic scars. Neither type of scar affects the face very often.
posted by xchmp at 3:22 PM on July 12, 2010

I also recommend silicone scar sheets. I have pale, fragile skin (probably just like iminurmefi) and these have worked wonders. They're good for preventing raised scars, but they also help reduce redness. I like the Scaraway brand and order them from Amazon. I also stayed out of the sun, drank a lot of water, and loaded up on vitamins (zinc, vitamin E and C, and biotin). Don't worry about it too much -- the good news is you're treating it early, which can make all the difference in reducing or preventing a scar.
posted by lucysparrow at 3:29 PM on July 12, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks everyone... the silicone sheets sound promising. You're right, iminurmefi... some kind of preventive make-work project is exactly what I'm looking for! Then I can go back to worrying about my dental bills...
posted by Crane Shot at 3:39 PM on July 12, 2010

I had a similar lip wound when I got hit by a car on my bike; my lower lip is bigger on the left side now, noticeably so in the way it feels (it mostly portrudes inward, so it doesn't really make my mouth particularly asymmetric). I've had a plastic surgeon look at it, and will remove it when I get around to it – I've had other scars removed with great success, several months after I got them.

One thing you could do to make your life easier would be to go to a plastic surgeon now to have it stitched up correctly so you don't get a scar in the first place. Since it's accidental damage, it would be considered reconstructive and not cosmetic surgery, and your insurance may cover it. Mine did.

When I had a mole on my hip removed, my dermatologist recommended that I keep 3M Steri-Strip (available in pharmacies) tape on my scar 24/7 for at least 8 weeks, replacing it only as it would start to come off after several showers. I still ended up with a somewhat raised scar, so it may not be worth it. Yeah, I guess it'll just serve as a reminder that dermatologists are not surgeons.
posted by halogen at 3:45 PM on July 12, 2010

I have a keloid scar on my lip, caused by an accident similar to halogen's (except it's on the right). It's really not that bad, and is actually kind of sexy. People pay to have puffy lips! Yeah, it's just on one side, but it's hardly noticeable (even though it's not exactly small). In fact, my own mother just noticed it yesterday for the first time, and I got it seven years ago.

It's definitely not disfiguring. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable to prevent it, but if you do end up with a scar, it won't be nearly as bad as the images on the internet are making you think.
posted by k8lin at 7:55 PM on July 12, 2010

My teeth went through my lip last year. I found using Mederma every day and massaging it constantly worked. A year later its barely noticeable.
posted by Unred at 9:04 PM on July 12, 2010

« Older Printing A4 in the U.S.   |   Another where-do-I-go-from-here thread Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.