How to Heal Self Harm Scars: A Comprehensive Guide

In this enlightening follow-up to our series on self-injury, we delve into the treatment of self-harm scars. By the time patients arrive at our clinic, they have usually exhausted various scar reduction methods such as Bio Oil, silicone gel sheets, pressure dressings, and even artistic or medical tattooing. Most have also tried to camouflage scars with makeup. But here’s the good news: the majority of self-harm scars are treatable.

Different Types of Self-Injury Scars and Their Treatments

Linear Scars

Linear scars can be raised, dented, pale, or erythematous. They may appear mature (light in color and flat) or immature (red, itchy, or painful, but often mature into a flat scar). Typically found on arms and thighs, these scars can be effectively treated.

We employ a Fraxel laser to blend the scars into the surrounding skin, improving both color and texture. If necessary, a vascular laser can be used to reduce erythema, and a pigment laser can minimize the contrast with the surrounding skin.

Keloid Scars

Keloid scars are raised, itchy, and can be red or pigmented. They have a tendency to continue growing or spreading, especially in younger patients. Depending on the scar’s location, keloids can invade the surrounding normal skin.

The treatment for keloid scars usually involves a vascular laser to reduce redness, followed by intralesional steroid injections to flatten the scar and alleviate itching.

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Hypertrophic Scars

Hypertrophic scars are raised, red, and occasionally itchy. Over time, they may develop into an elevated, ropey appearance.

To address the textural issues of hypertrophic scars, we commonly use a Fraxel laser. Additionally, a vascular laser can be employed to reduce redness.

Contracture Scars

When scars cross joints or skin creases at right angles, they are prone to developing contractures. These scars are often a result of burns and can be disabling and dysfunctional.

To treat contracture scars, we use a Fraxel laser to soften the scar and restore a more normal skin texture. Steroid injections can then be administered to reduce inflammation.

Atrophic Scars

Atrophic scars are flat and depressed below the surrounding skin. They are commonly associated with acne or chickenpox, but can also result from chronic picking.

These scars are treated with a Fraxel laser, which improves texture through neocollagenesis and disperses some of the surrounding pigment.

Skin Graft Scars

Skin grafts change color over time, initially appearing red and swollen before ultimately settling to a paler, flatter appearance. However, they often do not match the surrounding skin due to redness, pigmentation, sun damage, and occasional hair growth. The edges of grafts may also appear puckered or dented.

To address skin graft scars, Fraxel lasers are used to correct textural mismatches and graft edges. Vascular lasers can treat neovascularization, and pigment lasers can blend mismatched skin colors, reducing the disparity.

Laser Treatments for Self-Harm Scars

Before laser treatment can commence, our dermatologist must evaluate your scars and determine the appropriate treatment pathway based on your skin type, scars, and any other conditions that may impact the treatment.

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While most scars can be treated, there are instances where laser treatments may not be suitable or may not yield the desired results. During your consultation with our dermatologist, you will be presented with information regarding all available treatment options and the expected outcomes.

To learn more about the scar treatment process or to book a consultation with our dermatologist, visit our self-harm scar treatment webpage. Alternatively, you can call our dedicated receptionists at (02) 9953 9522. Don’t forget that having a GP referral will entitle you to a medical rebate, which covers a portion of the consultation cost. For further details, our receptionists will provide you with all the necessary information.

Embark on your journey to healing and reclaim your confidence today!

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