How to fix large patches of scar tissue?
October 20, 2013 8:20 PM   Subscribe

I have large patches of raised scars and broken blood vessels across huge areas of my body. (I'm an adult in my twenties.) None of this was ever self-inflicted, nor desired in any way at any time. Can any of this be fixed medically/surgically if I save up the money? What about the purple/red marks crisscrossing my flesh? I know that laser surgery is possible for single scars, and to remove tattoos, but as for improving skin quality, I have no idea. Any insight would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by quiet earth to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Regarding keloid scars, I've had some limited success with applying vitamin E oil topically. Takes a couple of months of results though.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:23 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

Talk to a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. There are likely several options but evaluating your situation in person is the best way to determine what is available.
posted by TedW at 8:32 PM on October 20, 2013 [12 favorites]

There are likely several options but evaluating your situation in person is the best way to determine what is available.

posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:36 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of scar reduction methods out there. Based on your description of your scarring, its probably not possible to completely eliminate them, but their appearance can probably be reduced.

There are a number of different techniques used to treat the physical scars themselves. These can depend on the extent and type of scarring.

You mention that you have raised scars? Do they look like keloid scars, or hypertropic scars? Generally, these types of scars can be a bit more difficult to remove. Keloid scars, in particular, do not always heal to look as nicely, and can require a different range of removal techniques. Your surgeon or dermatologist will be able to guide you through your options.

For the broken blood vessels, the answer again depends on how things look. Laser is a common treatment.

IANYD. You should go for a consult with a surgeon/dermatologist. Your general practitioner should be able to give you a recommendation for one. Depending on your insurance, any cosmetic improvements may have to be self financed, and will likely be expensive. Still, go and get a consult! They may have options for you that we haven't thought of.

(As a kid, I sustained two separate injuries from sharp objects at separate times. One is almost completely invisible today because of w-plasty approach when closing it. The other is still very visible.)
posted by troytroy at 8:37 PM on October 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

Definitely check with a dermatologist, who would be the best person to recommend a course of action and give you estimates of how expensive the treatment would be.
posted by xingcat at 8:40 PM on October 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine has reported good results from using silicon tape on keloid scars (this approach is mentioned in troytroy's link).
posted by daisyk at 12:50 AM on October 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hiya. I am a Caucasian woman who gets keloid scarring. It is absolutely 100% worth a consult with a plastic surgeon just to definitively determine what kind of scarring you have. If it is keloid or hypertrophic scarring, that will severely limit your treatment options, as techniques like scar revision or basically any surgery will just make things worse. Also, the larger each scar, the fewer options you have.

My personal order of preference would be laser, then steroid compression tape, then steroid or cortisone injections, just because I thought the steroid injections really, really sucked and were minimally effective for me.

FWIW, the texture of my scarring has changed dramatically as I've aged. Vitamin E + compression means they've thinned and become less red. Things like avoiding sunburn on scar tissue (holymarymotherofgodouch) and not attempting to pierce my ears with the expectation they'll stay pierced have become no big deal.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:02 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Can any of this be fixed medically/surgically? Yes, absolutely. I've had two pretty big laser dermatology procedures (tattoo removal and fraxel to my neck/chest for cosmetic reasons). The practice I went to mostly specialised in exactly the kind of problems you describe - treating scarring, birth marks, varicose veins etc, and I had great experiences with the treatments.

It's impossible to say whether this is an issue for a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. I'd say (from a non-medical gut opinion) that it would be worthwhile to get a referral to a dermatologist who specialises in laser procedures* and start from their. If it's a case for a surgeon the dermatologist will refer you.

It might take a long time, but there are absolutely things you can do.

* FWIW, the dermatology practice I went to billed itself as primarily paediatric, not cosmetic, so maybe that's something to look out for?
posted by nerdfish at 1:47 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you do decide to consult with a plastic/cosmetic surgeon, you want to make sure they are board certified in the field. This is important to verify as many "cosmetic surgeons" are physicians from other specialities who decided to make some pretty easy money.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 3:38 AM on October 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

I've heard that turmeric paste can do wonders for all sorts of skin issues, including scars. I've used it myself on a number of times and always been astonished at what it could accomplish, although I haven't tried it on scars. It's cheap, easy, etc. so worth a try. There are all sorts of recipes that Google can share with you.
posted by Capri at 6:35 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I had some moles removed from my face a few years ago, and the dermatologist recommended a product called Kelocote. Much smaller scale than what you're dealing with, but after using it, now I have to look very closely to see where the scars are. Good luck.
posted by mogget at 9:56 AM on October 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you, AskMeFi! It's time for me to make a second appointment with my dermatologist, who might refer me to a surgeon. I've also had good results from so-called "homemade" solutions (i.e. vitamin E, turmeric paste) in the past, so I wouldn't neglect those either. I'll try everything that was recommended to me. Thank you for giving me hope of having smooth and beautiful skin again, smart Mefites!
posted by quiet earth at 9:37 PM on October 24, 2013

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