Scar treatments for face and body
Scarring is a very common concern amongst our clients. We have those that are concerned with minor ice pick scars, those with deeper box car scars, stretch marks and even surgical scars. We also have those that are a bit confused, thinking that a post inflammatory mark after a pimple is a scar.
Today, I am going to clarify what a scar is and talk about how to treat each one so that you are able to finally make some improvements in your skin.
First of all, what IS a scar?
A scar is an area on your body where an injury has occurred. The skin will have an abnormal formation of connective tissues which are initially thick or pink – but with time will fade to white.
These areas can be raised (such as a hypertrophic or keloid scar).
- A hypertrophic scar is raised, but remains on the exact site of the injury.
- A keloid is also raised, but it will extend past the area of injury. Those that are prone to keloids need to aggressively watch the types of products they use on their skin.
A scar can also be flat or even become an atrophic scar (or, a depression in the skin) – as in an acne ice-pick scar or a pock mark.
An atrophic scar has damaged collagen tissues.
What generally happens is that the inflammation from a large pimple (or even a chicken pock) in the skin destroys the collagen. After it is damaged and the pimple is healed, the top layer of skin ends up adhering to the deeper skin tissues. This, then becomes a depression in the skin’s texture that is usually in the shape of a “V”.
The box car scar is a combination of several Ice-pick scars that are very close together and form a larger depression.
Then we have our last type of “scar” which is really just Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation. This is the one that many people will mistake as a scar, when it is really just a temporary darkening of the skin due to inflammation. This usually occurs after a pimple has healed.
There is not really a scar as no tissues were damaged. The dark skin is just a remnant of inflammation in the skin. It will go away in several months right on its own. *But, of course there are ways to accelerate that process.
So, let’s get to the business of minimizing these scars.
I want to start off with the most common scar we deal with, and that is the atrophic scar. Mostly Ice pick and boxcar scarring. These are addressed with 2 products.
- The first product is a TCA peel. We like to utilize the TCA CROSS method which takes a high percentage of TCA and applies it INSIDE of the scar. We have a full tutorial on this application method that you can follow here.
- With lighter skin types we suggest the 30% TCA be selected.
- With medium to dark skin types we suggest the 20% TCA be selected ***AND *** that the skin be pre-treated with a melanin inhibitor (such as our Fade Bright or a hydroquinone) for at least 2 weeks prior to the peel treatment and then again afterwards every day. This will help to prevent PIH that can occur with high acid percentages. **We certainly do not want to create new problems as we address old ones.
- The CROSS method can be performed only 1x every 5 weeks. Never rush this process. The healing and tissue regeneration time is just as important as the procedure itself.
Many people like to address their full face at the same time as a targeted treatment like this. For that we suggest that they perform their CROSS method, and then after 5 minutes they apply a lower percentage of TCA - such as our 13% at 1-2 layers on their entire face.
Now you are smoothing the skin everywhere and even targeting pigmentation and fine lines while you are treating scarring. This is a win win solution.
- The second product that we recommend to treat atrophic scarring is Dr. Pickart’s SuperCop 2x cream. This is a strong tissue regenerator that can be applied 1x per day *usually in the evenings – because it’s blue* to help stimulate quicker regeneration of tissues.
There isn’t any moisture in this cream, so many people love to apply the pure Emu oil on top when they use it. This not only helps with penetration (as emu oil is transdermal) but it is also calming, healing and hydrating. Another option to apply is our 99% Organic Essentials Healing Blend. Most of our clients use either of these as a healing aid after all of their chemical peels.
For other facial scarring – such as surgical sites or wounds that have left a mark. The TCA peel at a lower percentage – such as the 13% at a few layers - is usually the best option followed by the SuperCop 2x cream on a daily basis.
If you don’t want to use a chemical peel, that is perfectly fine! What you can do instead is use a daily acid serum – such as our Serum 15 or Serum 30 - to accomplish the same job… albeit on a slower time frame.
Most people like to apply the serums in the evening, but you can certainly apply then during the day if you prefer. One time per day is enough to help break down the scar tissues. Then, if you wish you can speed up the process by adding one of the copper serums into the mix.
For those acne spots that are just Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation – and not a scar. … I mentioned that they will go away on their own – generally that takes a few months. There are ways to speed up this process though, so here we go.
- Always use a retinoid in the evenings such as our Retinol Molecular Serum .20%. What vitamin A can do is speed up the rate at which your skin turns over. It basically stimulates your skin to Hyper-regenerate. **It also will help to clear out those pores by shedding the inner lining. Now, with clear pores you won’t get pimples as often. Just in case you DO get a pimple, …. You will find it will heal up super quickly and any residual marks will generally be gone in less than 2 weeks.
- Use a melanin inhibitor to help lighten the discoloration. Our Fade Bright has alpha arbutin, kojic acid and Resveratrol to help lighten pigmentation changes in the skin. By applying this 2x per day *prior to any other products* you will see a lightening happening in about 7-10 days. If you use this with the retinol – changes will be even quicker.
- A chemical peel is another option to lighten marks quickly. Salicylic is especially good at treating PIH marks. Our 15% can be used 1x every 1-2 weeks to lighten marks and to also control the formation of acne in the first place. An alternative to the salicylic is our Mandelic acid peel. Choose the 22% if you are sensitive or a teen, and the 40% if you have normal skin tolerance.
If you are dealing with a keloid or hypertrophic scar you will want to stay away from chemical peels. The best method to help flatten raised scars are by applying silicone sheeting to the area for prolonged lengths of time, such as while you sleep at night.
Another option that we find works well is by using Dr. Pickart’s SuperCop 2x skin remodeling cream again. Copper will not aggravate the area by causing any inflammation – so it will not make the scar worse (which a chemical peel could potentially do).
Copper basically works by finding the tissues that are not “normal” and stimulating them to be broken down and then replaced by “normal” tissues. Alternating this with silicone sheeting is an excellent method to minimize a scar such as this.
What about body scars?
There are many scars that are on the body. A stretch mark is a very common scar as well as general wounding and surgical sites. Just like the face, we can target these aggressively with chemical peels or a bit more gently with daily products.
It just so happens that the gentle, daily products are the perfect pre-treatments for any body peels – so let’s start here.
*If you are going to be applying a body peel, we highly recommend you choose one of the following acid products to prep your skin prior to your peel. It will help to thin the layers of dead skin and allow the peel to penetrate more evenly when applied…. And guess what? That will give you better end results. You will also have a treatment that you can do on a daily basis when you are not performing body peels.
- A daily application of acid would be safe and effective for mild body scarring. We suggest our Triple Treat 25% Body Lotion 1-2x per day.
- Another high percentage of acid that could be applied daily on a scar – or to pretreat the skin for a body peel - is our Serum 30. This is a bit stronger than our Triple Treat and comes in a serum base. Apply 1-2x per day on all problem areas. Stop use for a few days if skin becomes irritated or too sensitive.
- The third product for body use is our Derma Fixx Stretch Mark Contouring Cream. This does not have an acid in the cream, but it is still very beneficial for stretch marks due to the high percentage of Gotu Kola. You can apply this on its own, or alternate it with one of our acid products I just mentioned.
An aggressive body treatment would be the following:
For light skin types, the TCA 30% peel can be applied to the scar itself. In the case of a stretch mark you can follow the lines with a Q-tip or you can apply the acid all over a larger area. A body peel can be done only 1x per month – as the skin takes a very long time to shed.
With darker skin types we want to use the lower 20% TCA at 1-2 layers. We have to be more careful and really think out what could potentially happen.
For example… there is always the potential that we are going to cover a large area and it will be lighter than the rest of your skin. This can happen because of the skin becoming darker over the years due to sun damage. So we may have to cover a much larger area than just the scar if we want the skin to be even colored on that body part.
Preparing the skin with a melanin inhibitor is mandatory. Dark skin types run the risk of getting PIH *Post Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation when a stronger peel is performed. To lessen the risk of getting a dark spot on the area you are treating, apply your Fade Bright or Hydroquinone for at least 2 weeks prior to applying a body peel.
After your peel continue applying your Fade Bright until the skin is healed. If you are planning on performing more peels on the area, definitely keep up the Fade Bright daily so your skin is always ready.
**A quick note here**
When you are treating your scars they can – and most likely will - look a bit worse at the beginning. With CROSS it will be red and the hole may look larger. With a body peel the white scarring could turn a pink or even red color. This is all OK and perfectly normal. In order to stimulate new tissues we are purposefully damaging the old scar. This is the only way the body recognizes that it needs to replace that area.
Be patient, and in a few days everything will be calmer and then again … in a few weeks things will be looking better.
When do I stop?
With any of these treatments you need to just continue on until you feel comfortable with the results. Many people will have to treat an area several times to get a satisfying result. What you will find is generally, after a few treatments you are positively seeing improvements – and it is just a matter of time before you are happy with your results.