Whether it’s acne scars, a burn mark or a scar from an operation, sometimes, not everything heals over completely. Some people perceive these as blemishes and are eager to get rid of them.
That is not always easy, however.
”You can undertake several procedures to improve the way scars look, but usually, you can’t make them invisible, ” says professor Philipp Babilas, a dermatologist at a centre for skincare in Germany.
Such treatments are often costly, so if you’re considering one, clarify at the start whether you will be paying for it, or your health insurer, says Jochen Sunken of a consumer advice centre.
A dermatologist or an expert in aesthetic and plastic surgery can give you specialist advice on what treatments to consider. The options depend on the patient’s skin and the kind of scar they have.
Dermatologists often use laser therapy to treat acne or operation scars. It allows a very targeted approach, creating calculated injuries without destroying adjacent tissue.
One disadvantage, however, according to Babilas, is that “laser therapy is time-consuming”. You often need to go for several sessions.
Microneedling is often the approach taken for smooth or sunken scars. It seeks to make the skin produce collagen and elastin, and involves a device loaded with fine needles that prick the scar up to 1,000 times per minute.
For large scars, sometimes doctors will remove the scar and sew the skin up anew. They might also carry out a skin transplant, removing fatty tissue from a part of the body that is more hidden from view and sewing it over the scar tissue.
The problem with surgery is that it creates new scars, says Babilas.
Cortisone can also be injected into scar tissue with a thin needle to inhibit inflammation and stop cell growth. This is an option particularly for thickened scars and keloids, says Babilas.
Another approach sees doctors using an approach called dermabrasion. It involves thhe use of a device with a rotating head to remove the outer layer of skin, whether to treat keloids or the edges of acne scars.
It’s a painful process, and patients are given a general anaesthetic.
“Often, you need follow-up treatments, ” says Babilas. Scars may also form again.
When it comes to costs, each case is different, so it’s difficult to generalise. Financing the treatment in some cases can be problematic, as removing scars solely for aesthetic reasons is not usually paid for by insurance companies.
It’s different if the scar is impairing your bodily function, but for disfigurement, it depends on the case in question.
One thing that makes a difference is whether the scar is visible or not - say on your face versus usually covered by clothing.
You could consider an alternative way of covering the costs, beyond your health insurer.
If the scar was caused by a traffic accident, for example, the other party may have to pay for the costs, while if it was caused by an accident at work, your employer’s liability insurance association might pay to have work done on the scar. – dpa
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