Scar revision surgery is a form of plastic surgery that is designed to minimize or change the appearance of a scar so that it will be less visible. This procedure may be cosmetic or therapeutic in nature depending on the patient's situation and it can be performed in settings like clinics and hospitals. Patients should be aware that it is not possible to remove scars altogether, but surgery can successfully change the way a scar looks.
Before scar revision surgery is offered, patients are usually advised to wait to allow an injury to completely heal first. Some scars look very dramatic at first, but fade with time as the underlying injuries heal. Once a scar's appearance has settled down and appears to be remaining consistent, a consultation with a surgeon can be held to evaluate the scar and discuss surgical options.
Many different procedures can be used in scar revision surgery, including skin resurfacing, bleaching or otherwise changing the color of the scar, filling the scar, grafting in new skin, cutting out a scar and creating an incision that is as clean as possible, and other steps. Special dressings may be used after the surgery to reduce the risk that the scar will reform and to keep the surgical site under pressure to encourage it to heal smoothly and evenly.
Some surgeries can be performed with local anesthetic to numb the upper layers of the skin. Others require general anesthesia because the surgeon may need to cut deeply or perform invasive procedures. Patients should discuss all of the available options along with their risks when consulting with a surgeon about scar revision surgery. Some risks can include adverse reactions to anesthesia, infections at the surgical site, or a failure, where the scar remains the same or grows worse. Working with a board certified surgeon who has extensive experience can limit risks, but sometimes the body heals unpredictably and even highly skilled surgeons sometimes experience poor surgical outcomes after scar revision surgery.
Many plastic surgeons maintain a portfolio of their work. Examining the portfolio can give patients an idea about the kinds of treatment outcomes available. Portfolios also create a realistic picture for patients so that they have an idea of how they will look after surgery. During consultation, patients may also want to discuss whether the procedure will be considered therapeutic or cosmetic by their insurance companies. Therapeutic procedures are scar revision surgeries performed to address a medical problem like a contracture limiting range of movement, while cosmetic surgeries are performed for purely aesthetic reasons. Insurance companies usually do not cover elective cosmetic procedures.