By KAYCEE REYES
Scars come in all sizes, shapes, and stories. Some may celebrate them, but maybe most of us hide them. Sometimes, scars can ruin one’s confidence and make one feel more self-conscious. And since the legs are usually an exposed part of the body, especially for females, having unsightly scars can affect the way they dress, act, and feel. So how do we keep our legs smooth and scar-free?
Scars are the body’s natural way to heal itself when exposed to trauma or injury. How they appear or what they look like usually depends on their size and location. More than that, age, gender, race, and genetics also come into play. Generally, scars are formed with the same collagen as the skin, but how it is formed is different and weaker than normal skin. There are common scars that form on the skin:
- Atrophic scars are sunken, depressed ones that may be further categorized into rolling scars (uneven skin), ice pick (small, deep scars), or boxcar scars (wider than ice pick scars that are also deep and sharp). Their appearance is caused by lack of fat or muscle. This type of scarring is common among those with acne, chickenpox, and bites.
- Hypertrophic scars are raised, visible, and thick. They form when too much collagen is produced. They look like a keloid but they don’t grow as abnormal as a keloid. This type of scar will fade in time and look less prominent. This type of scarring is common among those with burns, but may also appear on those with cuts, or even acne.
- Keloid scars are raised, prominent growths on the skin that result in injury. They usually grow beyond the wound and may be bothersome to other people. They are common on the chest, shoulders, and back but may still appear on other parts of the body. This type of scarring is common with different skin injuries, including surgical incisions, bites, cuts, and burns.
- Contracture scars are uneven scars where the skin around the wound pulls in as it heals. This may affect underlying muscles or nerves and may possibly restrict movement for some, depending on the scar’s location. This type of scarring is common among those with burns.
These scars, while they pose no serious health risk, may fade but most of them do not go away completely. For other types of scars like keloids, they may enlarge and look worse over time. Unfortunately, home remedies cannot fade or erase scars as much as they promise to. In fact, they may cause more complications such as allergic reactions or skin irritation that may harm the skin even more. Skin care products may help to some degree, but they won’t fade or eliminate the scars completely.
Using sunscreen may help with fresh scars as ultraviolet radiation can make the skin darker. Wear sunscreen especially during the first six months. Additionally, covering your leg scars by wearing jeans, leggings would certainly help. Look out for textiles containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
Acids help with scars too, especially for dark or pigmented ones. Be on the lookout for azelaic acid, alpha hydroxy acid (AHA), and beta hydroxy acid (BHA). AHA and BHA are good exfoliators that help with skin renewal and turnover. Azelaic acid, on the other hand, helps with uneven skin tone. Silicone scar gels are good most especially for hypertrophic scars as they protect the scar as it heals. They also help flatten tissue and ease redness. This is most effective in fresh scars. Vitamin C is also an important ingredient that helps in collagen production and aids in skin lightening. It helps most especially in pigmented scars.
There are also available treatments that significantly help with scars. Though they cannot remove scars completely, it can improve and fade them significantly with repeated sessions.
- Fractional lasers can significantly improve atrophic and contracture scars as they can penetrate into deeper layers of the skin to stimulate collagen production until the scar changes.
- Pulsed dye laser and 1064nm Nd:YAG laser are specific lasers that can reduce the red pigment in scars and help flatten raised ones as well. They do so by sending bursts of light to targeted red blood vessels and letting the body absorb it. Blood then flows to other healthier blood vessels. This can help with hypertrophic scars and keloids.
- Microneedling with platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is another way to treat scars using a roller with small pins applied on the skin to stimulate collagen production. With the addition of PRP applied on the area after microneedling, it can help the scar heal even better as it contains growth factors and proteins that aid in healing and repair. This can help with contracture and atrophic scars.
- Cyotherapy works on hypertrophic and keloid scars by delivering liquid nitrogen that freezes the scar to be removed. This can be done with other treatments such as intralesional steroid injections. Intralesional steroid injections help flatten hypertrophic and keloidal scars as the steroid helps ease the inflammation and redness. Intralesional five-fluorouracil is a specific drug injected into keloids and hypertrophic scars that may inhibit excess collagen formation.
Scars, whether old or new ones, still need proper assessment before trying different treatments. It is best to consult with your dermatologist for the best option to treat your scar, especially if it continues to be bothersome for you. You can avoid or minimize scarring by keeping your skin moisturized, applying proper wound care, and using sunscreen as the wound heals. Now you can show off your smooth, scar-free legs in the summer and beyond!