A new product, known as the “Smart Scar-Care Pad” has potential to be a saving grace in preventing scars. The scar treatment was designed by a Cecelia Li-Tsang, a professor at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The pad was designed to reduce the appearance of raised scars and improve the elasticity of damaged skin. This a major benefit for patients who have undergone serious trauma, like those caused by burns, accidents or surgeries.
Li-Tsang’s patch won the Grand Award and Gold Medal with the Congratulations of Jury at the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva this year. Although the product has great benefits to treating patients with raised scars, researchers at the school also think it has the potential to open up research to treat patients with any kind of scarring- even acne scars.
How Do Hypertrophic Scars Develop
A scar can occur when there is a wound to the skin. When the skin is opened because of a cut or other injury, the body kicks off its repair response. During repair, the body increases production of collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein of the body. It gives skin its ability to stretch and retract and plays a major role in repairing damaged skin and other tissues. New skin is formed during the healing process, but the new tissue looks and feels different than the rest of the skin.
If the body produces too much collagen during the repair, the resulting scar turns out raised and bumpy. These types of scars are known as keloid or hypertrophic scars. Many patients report that these kinds of scars are a source of embarrassment or elicit feelings of self-consciousness for many sufferers.
The Smart Scar-Care patch benefits patients with hypertrophic scarring by putting pressure on the new, raised tissue. Over time, the pressure on the scar will break it down over time, leaving it flat. The Smart Scar-Care patch is made of silicone which also helps to moisturize the skin.
The Smart Scar-Care patch is still in testing, but could someday be a viable option to treat scars.
Available Treatments for Hypertrophic Scars
One treatment available for patients with hypertrophic scarring is steroid injections.
“Steroid injections work for hypertrophic scars by breaking down uneven collagen and flattening scars out over time,” Dr. Jack Peterson, M.D., said.
Peterson is a Topeka, Kansas, a plastic surgeon who does steroid injection scar revision for patients with raised scars. He has found that scars are a very personal topic for many of his patients.
“Scars can remind patients of a traumatic or painful experience, or make people self-conscious depending on the location of the scar,” Peterson said.
Facial scars can be especially sensitive to many individuals. Steroid injection therapy is an ideal treatment for patients with hypertrophic facial scarring.
When a patient visits Peterson for hypertrophic scar treatment, they are put a steroid injection schedule and will receive treatment over a period of weeks or months depending how the severity of the scar. The effectiveness of the steroid injection therapy is also contingent on how long the patient has had the scar.
“Ideally, patients with hypertrophic scars should start their steroid injection therapy as soon as possible after their wound heals in order to maximize results,” Peterson said.
Treating Other Types of Scars
While hypertrophic scars are a common problem, some patients develop atrophic or sunken scars. Atrophic scars occur when the body does not produce enough collagen to repair a wound.
Treatment for atrophic scarring also uses injection therapy, but instead of steroids to flatten scars, dermal fillers are used. Dermal fillers filling the sunken scarred area and smooth out the skin. Many dermal fillers are collagen based and kick off the body’s collagen production once again. Increased collagen production can leave the skin smooth and tightened, minimizing the sunken appearance of atrophic scars.
Some superficial or light scars can be minimized through skin resurfacing treatments like microdermabrasion, which lightly sloughs off the outermost layer of the skin, revealing new, unscarred skin underneath. Other skin rejuvenating options for light to moderate scarring include laser skin rejuvenation and chemical peels.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. “Innovative ‘Smart Scar-Care’ pad to create a ‘scar-less’ world.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2017.