How to Fade Even the Most Stubborn of Scars, According to Dermatologists

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How to Fade All Types Of Scars, According to Experts
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We all get scars for a variety of reasons: childhood accidents, surgery, a cooking mishap, etc. And while some scars are embraced, others can cause insecurities in the people who carry them. Thankfully, there are ways to remove scars and make them fade into near oblivion.

However, there are several things to consider before moving forward with one treatment or another. For starters, you need to determine the type of scar you have because yes, they are different types and they each have a treatment plan that will work best for them.

For those looking to make their scars disappear, InStyle spoke to two leading board-certified dermatologists to breakdown how to treat old and new scars, what people of color need to consider when treating them, what off-label treatments are options, and more. But before we get into treatments, though, you first need to identify what type of scars you're dealing with.

Types Of Scars

There are four types of major scars:

  1. Keloid scars: Dr. Michelle Henry, MD, says that these raised scars roll outside the boundaries of the initial wound.
  2. Atrophic scars: Also called rolling scars, these typically have a sunken look and cause uneven skin texture.
  3. Hypertrophic scars: Dr. Henry says that these are typically thick and follow the wound or trauma, and notes that they're more common than keloid scars.
  4. Post-inflammatory erythema: While these are not medically categorized as scars, many skincare experts treat them as such. Dr. Shereene Idriss, a Manhattan-based dermatologist and founder of Idriss Dermatology, says that these are leftover immediately after a breakout and can be a red/pink/purple color.

Do Topical Treatments Work To Fade Scars?

Yes! Dr. Idriss says it's best to treat color before texture as an even skin tone can give the look of clear skin. Topical treatments can be great at minimizing or preventing the appearance of post-inflammatory marks. When looking for skincare products to help fade scars, Dr. Henry says to look for formulas that use silicone gel, such as the SkinCeuticals Advanced Scar Control, noting that there's a lot of data to support that silicone softens scar tissue and can even reduce itching.

To treat pigment, both dermatologists recommend using either retinoids or prescription tretinoin. "[They're] great at treating hyperpigmentation spots and even preventing future breakouts," explains Dr. Idriss.

Additionally, Latisse can be used off-label to treat scars that are lighter than a patient's natural skin color. Dr. Henry explains that it can induce pigment, which is why the label cautions people with blue eyes. "We try to manipulate that side effect of the Latisse for good," she says.

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Which In-Office Treatments Work To Fade Scars?

There's no one-size-fits-all approach — each case is different, but Dr. idriss says that for textural scarring, in-office treatments are almost always needed.

Dr. Henry says that Botox can be injected into keloid scars to treat scar tissue, hypertrophic scars can benefit from having steroids injected into the treatment area, lasers (such as Fraxel, VBeam, Pico, and CO2) stimulate collagen production to speed up healing, and microneedling and radiofrequency can be used to treat atrophic scars.

When's The Best Time To Treat A Scar?

It's better to start treatment sooner rather than later. "[It's best] when the acne is still active and the post-inflammatory mark is still red," says Dr. Idriss. "If you hold off on treatment and allow time to heal these marks, they can turn brown through oxidation, basically becoming iron deposits that are more difficult to treat in the future."

However, she and Dr. Henry agree that old scars can also be treated and get great results.

"Scars may not entirely disappear, but their color and texture can lighten greatly and give the appearance that the scars are gone," says Dr. Idriss.

Does Scar Treatment Vary For People With Melanin-Rich Skin?

People of all skin types can benefit from topicals and in-office treatments. However, using laser on dark skin is an advanced technique, so Dr. Henry says it needs to be done by someone who is skilled in it and has had a lot of experience treating melanin-rich skin.

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