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Types of Scars

Types of Scars

Isabelle Lederer

6 min

May 27, 2024

Scars can be a major source of stress for many people and can even affect their self-image. In this blog post, we will explain the possible causes, the different types of scars, and how you can treat them.

Enjoy reading!

How scars happen

Scars occur when the skin has been injured. Scars form as a natural part of the healing process after the original injury to the skin. The process takes place in several phases:

Inflammatory phase: Immediately after the injury, blood leaks from the damaged blood vessels, and a clot forms to close the original wound. Inflammatory cells migrate in to remove bacteria and dead tissue.

Proliferation phase: New tissue is formed as collagen fibers and other cell types migrate into the wound. This process leads to the formation of granulation tissue, which fills the wound. This allows the skin to form a type of replacement tissue (fibrosis), which is the scar tissue.

Repair phase: The newly formed tissue matures and undergoes a process of restructuring in order to close the wound permanently. Scar tissue is formed that is less elastic and resistant than the original skin tissue.

Scars can occur in various ways: As a result of injuries, surgical procedures, burns or skin diseases such as severe acne. Every scar is unique, as it depends on factors such as the depth and type of injury, skin type, skin conditions, and genetic predisposition.

    Types of scars at a glance

    There are various types of scars and they differ in appearance, causes, and treatment options:

    1.    Hypertrophic scars: these scars are raised and reddish in color. They occur when too much collagen is produced during the healing process. Hypertrophic scars remain confined to the original wound and do not grow beyond it.

    2.    Keloids: keloid scars are also raised scars, but they grow beyond the boundaries of the original wound. They are often genetic and are more common in people with darker skin. Keloids can be itchy and painful. They often occur on the neck and upper body as well as on the earlobes.

    3.    Atrophic scars (sunken scars): these scars lie below the level of the skin and are caused by the loss of tissue. They are often the result of acne or chicken pox. Atrophic scars appear as small indentations or holes in the skin.

    4.    Contracture scars (also known as sclerotic scars): these scars are caused by burns and can tighten the skin, resulting in restricted movement. Contracture scars often affect deeper layers of the skin and can affect joints, muscles, and nerves.

    5.    Stretch marks: although not technically scars, stretch marks are often classified in this category. They are caused by rapid weight gain or loss, pregnancy, or hormonal changes that weaken the connective tissue.

    It’s always important to speak with your dermatologist to determine the type of scar you are dealing with.

    Treating scars

    The treatment of scars depends on the type of scar you are dealing with, its location, whether it is a superficial scar or not, and how long it’s been there. Here are some common treatment methods:

    Topical treatments:

    Silicone gels and patches: these products can help improve the appearance of scars by promoting skin hydration and aiding the healing process, especially when it comes to healing superficial scars.

    Scar creams: Creams containing ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe vera, or onion extract can soften the skin and reduce the appearance of scars.


    Corticosteroids: these can help reduce hypertrophic scars and keloids by inhibiting inflammation and excess collagen growth.

    Fillers: For atrophic scars, fillers such as hyaluronic acid can be injected to lift the skin surface and create a more even skin texture.

    Laser therapy:

    Laser treatment can be used to improve the appearance of scars by ablating the top layers of skin, or dermis, and stimulating collagen production. There are different types of lasers that can be used depending on the type of scar and the skin’s condition.

    Medical Needling (also known as microneedling):

    This technique uses tiny needles to create micro-injuries in the skin, which stimulate collagen production and improve skin texture. Medical needling is particularly effective for atrophic scars. This type of treatment is often used for acne scars and stretch marks.

    Surgical interventions:

    In severe cases, scars can be surgically removed or corrected. This is often the case with keloids or contractures. Surgery can improve the skin’s appearance and restore the proper functioning of the affected areas.

    Physical therapy:

    In the case of contractures caused by burns, physical therapy can help to improve mobility and stretch the skin.

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    Medical needling for treating scars

    from CHF 100/month


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    Frequently asked questions about types of scars.

    What are the best methods for treating scars?

    There are various methods for treating scars, including silicone gels or patches, special creams and lotions, cryotherapy, laser therapy, medical needling, steroid injections, and surgical correction. Other types of treatment involve plastic surgery, dermabrasion, radiation therapy, laser resurfacing, skin grafts, scar excision, and scar revision therapy.

    The best method depends on the type of scar, how long the scar has been there, as well as the person’s skin type. In addition to treating scars, various scar gels and chemical peels can be used for scar treatment. It is always important to consult with your doctor when treating scars.

    1. What are fibroblasts?

      Fibroblasts are a type of connective tissue cell that plays an important role in wound healing and scar formation. They are responsible for the production and regulation of collagen, a protein that is responsible for the structure and firmness of the skin. When scars form, fibroblasts migrate into the wound area, multiply, and produce collagen fibers. This process can lead to excessive collagen production, which in turn affects the appearance of the scar. In hypertrophic scars and keloids, fibroblast activity is particularly high, resulting in the characteristic raised and thick scars.

    2. How long does it take for a scar to fade?

      The healing process of a scar can take months to years. Fresh scars can change color in the first six months to a year and continue to fade over time. However, some scars can remain permanently visible, although they may become less noticeable over the years.

    3. What side effects can occur as a result of scar treatment?

      The side effects vary depending on the treatment method. Topical treatments can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions. Laser treatments can cause redness, swelling and even changes in pigmentation in rare cases. Surgical procedures carry the risk of infection and additional surgical scarring at the original scar and surrounding skin area.

    4. When should you see a doctor to treat scars?

      You should see a doctor if a scar is painful, inflamed, getting worse or if you want to significantly improve its appearance. A doctor can suggest suitable treatment options tailored to each individual’s case.

    5. How can you reduce the risk of scarring after an injury?

      To reduce the risk of scarring, the wound should be kept clean and moist, protected from sunlight, and regularly dressed with a suitable wound ointment. It is also important not to scratch or irritate the wound and to use a bandage if necessary. This will allow the wound to heal better by protecting it from sunlight and letting it heal naturally.

    6. Can home remedies help in the treatment of scars?

      Some home remedies, such as aloe vera, honey and coconut oil, can increase skin hydration and help to slightly improve the appearance of scars. The right skincare routine can also be beneficial. However, these home remedies are usually less effective than medical treatments and should be considered as complementary measures.

    7. How long does it take for a scar, such as a burn scar or a scar after an abrasion, to fade?

      It can take months to years for a scar to heal. New scars, such as burn scars or scars from abrasions, can change color in the first six months to a year and continue to fade over time. However, some scars can remain permanently visible, although they may become less noticeable over the years.

    8. Can scars be completely removed, especially excessive scarring caused by an overproduction of connective tissue?

      It is rare that scars can disappear completely. However, various treatments can significantly improve the appearance of scars and make them less noticeable, especially excessive scarring due to overproduction of connective tissue.

    Conclusion: Many scars can be treated

    Scars can be a major source of stress, but there are numerous ways to improve their appearance and alleviate discomfort. The choice of treatment depends on the type of scar and personal factors. It is important to be patient, as the treatment of scars often takes time and requires several sessions. If you are not sure which method is best for you, we recommend consulting one of our specialists in dermatology and aesthetic surgery.

    With the right type of care and treatment, even old scars can be significantly reduced, resulting in significantly improved skin texture and a boost in self-confidence.