What You Need to Know About Laser Scar Removal
With many invasive medical procedures today, some may end up with unflattering visible scarring. Of course, scarring is not just related to surgery; some may receive a scar only from an accidental injury or just picking a scab when not fully healed. Scarring can appear on multiple parts of the body, leading to the removal of them to lessen their appearance permanently so you will no longer have to conceal them.
While there is a wide array of scar removal creams today, most topicals take many months to remove a scar or lessen their appearance significantly. Laser scar removal is a faster approach that will deliver better results without the wait. With just a few treatments, the scar’s presence will shrink and become invisible as the remodeling process of it begins, causing it to gradually blend in with the surrounding skin for a seamless appearance.
As you continue to read, you will understand what laser scar removal is and how it works. Let’s get started!
All Scars Are Unique
When it comes to scars, it’s essential to understand that each one is unique in their own way. The collagen that makes up each scar will differ in structure depending on how the damage to the skin was inflicted, whether it be a surgical scar, burn scar, stretch mark scar, acne scar, and so on. It can also differ from where on the body the scarring occurred; after all, the skin on the different parts of your body can vary, resulting in a scar that’s different from one another.
Within a single scar, the collagen structure may differ, ultimately making it unique from the rest. An example of this would be a scar that extends from a point where the skin is always moving and stretching, compared to an area that is away from the point where the skin stays relatively immobile.
It is for that reason that each scar has its unique structure that requires a unique set of laser treatments to tackle each one effectively to remodel its structure, minimize it’s appearance, smooth out it’s texture, and blend it into the surrounding skin for a seamless result.
How Laser Scar Removal Works
Because each scar is unique from one another and different in composition and structure, all scar removal treatments are customized for each patient.
Typically, scar removal treatments require between 5 to 7 laser treatment sessions, combined with non-laser modalities such as Collagen Induction Therapy (CIT), Physiological Regulating Medicine (PRM), and Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT).
There are a total of five distinct phases in laser scar removal:
Phase 1 / Color Blending
When the formation of scars occur there are many possibilities such as:
- Excess pigment – A scar containing an excess of pigment creating cells (melanocytes) can cause the wound to become darker in color than the surrounding skin.
- Vascularization – The scars may contain an excess of vascularization which causes the wound to develop in shades of reds, purples, and pinks.
- Lighter in color – The scars may be lacking either excess pigment or vascularization, therefore appearing lighter than the surrounding skin.
Depending on the condition of the scar, a specific series of treatments will be required to combat each scar effectively to blend the color and match it to the surrounding skin.
Phase 2 / Color Remodeling
The color remodeling phase consists of converting damaged collagen (scar collagen) into healthy collagen to allow the scar to heal, resulting in a better appearance.
Phase 3 / Scar Contraction
Scar contraction is the process that shrinks the scar from side to side, eliminating the size of it.
Phase 4 / Stimulation of New Collagen
Once the discoloration within the scar has been corrected, intense collagen treatments are carefully selected and administered to stimulate the production of newer, healthier collagen.
These treatments are distinctively designed to interact with the collagen fibers that are found deep beneath the skin. The procedure accelerates the removal of old, deteriorated collagen and causes less-damaged collagen to remodel itself throughout your body’s physiological processes.
Within the 2 to 3 scar removal treatments, the fibroblast cells that exist throughout the skin’s dermis will also begin to stimulate and produce new, healthy, young collagen.
Phase 5 / Resurfacing
Laser resurfacing is the final laser treatment process that involves the smoothing of the scar’s surface to blend it with the surrounding skin.
The process is done with a “laser peel,” which is also known as an epidermal resurfacing laser.
The epidermal resurfacing laser removes a predetermined section of the skin’s surface (the dead skin cells that make of the upper layer).
The laser works to smooth the surface of the scar entirely, removing any roughness, imperfections, discoloration and fine wrinkles.
The Process of Laser Scar Removal
When it comes to healing scars, it’s essential to understand that the different types of scars, some of which may have been created by many different kinds of events, on the various parts of the body, can be effectively treated with laser scar removal treatments. Typically, newer formed scars tend to respond the best to laser treatments, compared to older scars that have settled on the skin for a more extended period of time.
However, in some cases, those who have older scars can sometimes be more responsive to the treatment compared to others with that of younger scars. In other words, the composition of each scar varies in each person and can ultimately determine how successful the treatment is for you.
The ability to considerably remodel scars depends on a few several factors.
The cause of the scar – For instance, injuries that were caused by burns can be significantly different from the wounds that are related to other reasons.
- Where the scar is on the body
- How old the injury is
- How old the person is
- Most importantly, the physiological responsiveness of the person
It is for those reasons why it’s so crucial and vital to have a fully customizable scar removal treatment protocol for each scar and each patient.
In terms of the procedure, a technician will treat the affected area then observe between each new session. The treatment may be modified if necessary. The observation process is continued throughout the entire remodeling and treatment process until you have achieved your desired result.
Because laser treatments for scar removal are considered cosmetic and elective procedures, your insurance provider may not cover the cost to have it done.
There are a three specific factors which determines the cost of laser treatments:
- The scars size
- The number of scars you have
- The number of laser treatments you may need to achieve visible results
While some cosmetic boutiques sometimes offer a specific set of procedures for a special rate, it’s essential to keep in mind that you may be required to pay a fee to the doctor or technician for the laser treatment per appointment.
In some cases, the cost of laser treatment can vary. It’s always a good idea to consult with more than one doctor or technician so you can compare prices before proceeding with the procedure.
Also, offices or boutiques sometimes will charge an additional consultation fee towards the amount of the actual procedure.
According to the University of Michigan’s Department of Dermatology, the cost for a single laser treatment which is used to improve the appearance of scars can cost between $200 and $3,400.
In terms of recovery, you can expect no real extended downtime for laser scar removal so you won’t have to worry about taking time off work. In most cases, you should be able to return to work within the next day or a few days following the procedure.