As wounds heal, scars form, whether they are small and hardly noticeable, or disfiguring. There are a number of products and treatments designed to reduce the appearance of scars, from topical creams to surgical procedures. Silicone treatment is an effective solution for scar reduction.
The Scar Condition
Scars are caused by either an overabundance or a lack of collagen, the skin's natural supportive protein, as the wound heals. The size, color and texture of scars can be influenced by a number of variables, such as the care given to the healing wound, the severity of the wound, and the patient's overall diet and health, since vitamins play an important role in the health of the skin.
Functions of Scar Reduction Treatment
To reduce the appearance of scars, the treatment must, first, smooth out the skin's texture, whether the scar be raised (common) or indented, and second, correct discoloration. Scars are either pink, red or purple, or they demonstrate hypopigmentation, in which the scar appears white or almost white. This means that new, healthy cells must replace the old cells, which happens gradually with treatment. As this occurs, not only does the scar fade, but it also seems to get smaller.
Silicone gel or silicone sheets are commonly used to reduce scars, and may be obtained either over the counter, by prescription or directly from a physician. This type of scar treatment keeps the wound hydrated and encourages healthy cell turn-over. Silicone gel is applied for 12 hours per day, while silicone sheets are used daily by applying pressure to the sheet over the wounded area. Silicone is also used to treat abnormal and severe scars, such as hypertrophic scars and keloids.
According to Dr. Bradon J Wilhelmi's December 2008 report, "Wound Healing, Widened and Hypertrophic Scars: Treatment," published on the eMedicine website, silicone gel is highly effective for reducing scar volume and visibility when used consistently over time. Dr. Wilhelmi reports that silicone treatment studies have shown an 80-to-100 percent improvement in hypertrophic scars. Also, the website NutraLegacy's February 2009 report on scar treatment, "All You Needs to Know about Hypertrophic Scar Treatment," says that while silicone treatment works most effectively on new scars, it is used effectively for treating old scars as well.
The University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority advises that silicone products must be used daily for a minimum of two months in order to show visible results.
Not only is silicone gel effective at reducing scar formation, but it is often the preferred method of scar reduction because it is noninvasive and easy to apply. Many patients prefer this topical treatment over steroid injections and invasive surgery, which are also more costly and have more risk and complications. Also, it is easy for patients to allow the silicone gel to work at night, during their sleep. With silicone scar treatments now sold over the counter, this type of treatment is easily accessible to patients.
Side effects of silicone treatment are minimal but may include allergic reactions and rashes that worsen the skin condition, according to Dr. Wilhelmi's report. Difficult adherence to the wound for both gel and sheet silicone treatments is another reason for some patients to discontinue use, and many people find silicone treatment too inconvenient and gradual for treating facial scars.
To minimize scarring, the wound area must be kept clean and hydrated. Aloe vera gel is an effective antifungal and antibacterial natural treatment that contains a number of other properties and nutrients that will minimize scarring with daily topical application. Other antibacterial creams and ointments should also be used to ensure the area is not infection-prone and can endure an "uninterrupted" healing process. Also, sun exposure should be avoided at all costs, since ultraviolet (UV) rays can inhibit proper wound-healing, and ultimately worsen scar formation.
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