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How to treat scars

Injuries or operations often leave scars. For some people these scars are a stain, in some cases they are downright disfiguring. What possibilities does modern medicine offer to remove scars?

Raised or sunken: the type of scar has a significant influence on the treatment method in question. (Image: blackday / stock.adobe.com)

Whether by laser, microneedling or surgery: the appearance of scars can be improved. However, treatment is often time consuming and can be expensive. What options are possible?

Scars have many causes

Acne on the face, burns on the body, cuts during surgery: scars can still remain. Anyone who perceives marks on the skin as a blemish often wants to get rid of them very quickly. But it is not that simple.

In some cases, you have to pay for scar treatment yourself

“You can improve the appearance of scars with a variety of methods, but they usually don’t become invisible,” says Professor Philipp Babilas, a dermatologist at the Regensburg Skin Center. In addition, the treatment can cost money: those who decide should clarify in advance who will bear the costs, advises Jochen Sunken of the Hamburg Consumer Center.

Choose the right treatment for each scar

Before making this decision, you need the advice of specialist dermatologists or specialists in plastic and cosmetic surgery. Because the procedure used depends, among other things, on the patient’s skin and the type of scars.

Scars are a type of replacement tissue the body makes to close wounds. There are thickened (hypertrophic), hollow (atrophic) and proliferating (keloids) scars. They can be handled in different ways – an overview:

Laser therapy

With this method, dermatologists can treat a scar very specifically by calculated wounds without destroying adjacent tissue. It is suitable, for example, to improve acne or surgical scars. The downside: “Laser therapy takes time,” says Babilas. Several sessions are often necessary.

Microneedling

Here, a device is dotted with the finest needles that dig into the scar up to 1000 times per minute. The goal is to get the skin to produce collagen and elastin. Microneedling is often used for smooth or sunken scars.

Surgical intervention

With a large scar, it is sometimes advisable to cut out the scar and sew it up. An alternative could also be skin grafting. The surgeon removes fatty tissue from an inconspicuous place on the body and sews it to the scar tissue. The downside to these variations, Babilas says, is that they create new scars.

Cortisone treatment

A specialist injects cortisone into the scar tissue with a thin injection needle. This inhibits inflammation and prevents cell growth. It’s mostly a matter of thickened scars and keloids, explains Babilas.

Sanding

This practice is called dermabrasion. For example, keloid ridges or acne scar edges are removed with a rotating grinding head. This is painful, which is why it is done under general anesthesia. “Follow-up treatment is often necessary,” says Babilas. In addition, scars can form again.

How much do the treatments cost?

General statements on the level of costs are difficult to make, each case is different. “It depends in particular on the size of the scar or the scars,” says Babilas. According to him, a laser treatment can cost on average 200 to 500 euros per session, a cortisone treatment around 100 euros per session.

Funding can be a problem. “Removing scars for cosmetic reasons only is basically not a service provided by compulsory health insurance,” says Claudia Widmaier of the National Association of Health Insurance Funds (GKV) in Berlin.

In which cases the costs are covered

It is different if the insured person is impaired in bodily functions by the scar. In the case of disfiguring scars, however, it depends on the individual case. “It is important to know whether the scar is visible – for example on the face – or if the scar is usually covered by clothing,” says consumer advocate Jochen Sunken.

If scars must be removed for psychological reasons, there is no entitlement to health insurance. According to Sunken, she pays for psychotherapy, but not for scar treatment.

A cost unit different from that of the sickness fund may be called into question. “If the scar is the result of a traffic accident, for example, the other party to the accident may have to pay the costs,” Sunken says. If the cause was an accident at work, the employers’ liability insurance association is called into question as the bearer of the costs.

Also read: Scar Care: How Scars Become Invisible.

Cover scars with makeup

Those affected often find scars on the skin of the face or on the neckline stressful – and want to cover them. For this, they should use camouflage cream, advises Nathalie Fischer, expert of the VKE Cosmetics Association. This means that the irregularities in the skin can be completely covered. Such a strongly pigmented masking cream adheres reliably to the skin and can also be perfectly “mixed”. Here’s how to do it, step by step:

Cleanse the skin, apply the day cream and let it absorb. Gently blot the skin with a paper towel. Apply camouflage cream with your fingertips to the areas of skin to be covered, then pat gently. “Continue over a large area and include the transitions,” advises Fischer. To mask larger areas of skin, spread the cream all over your face. A transparent and durable powder mattifies and fixes the camouflage and makes it resistant to perspiration and stains. “Generously dust off the setting powder and leave to act for ten minutes.” Gently remove excess powder with a brush. At the end of the day, remove the cream with a cleansing oil.

(vb / source: dpa / tmn)

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Important note:
This article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.