Treating scars or learning to live with them is an individual choice.
Scars can be a beautiful thing, as a friend once reminded me after heart surgery. Initially she’d been distressed by her “ugly” scars but her boyfriend assured her he found them beautiful because they saved her life.
However, even if scars are the result of life-saving or life-giving (e.g., a Caesarean) surgery, it’s normal to feel self-conscious about them.
Knowing what type of scar you have is key to treating it. A scar forms as part of the natural healing process. When the dermis is damaged, your body forms collagen fibres to repair the damage, resulting in a scar.
The severity of a scar depends on the severity of damage. And there are different kinds of scars – hypertrophic (excess tissue that forms over the skin as it heals); keloid (a thick, raised appearance caused by tissue overproduction); and contracture (tight, shiny skin that can restrict movement).
Many home remedies for treating scars can be effective. One is breaking open a vitamin E capsule and rubbing it into the scar. Massaging coconut oil into scars for about 10 minutes can also help – or you could try wrapping the scar in a honey-covered bandage (preferably mānuka honey with a high UMF) and leaving that on overnight.
A new product on the market also has us excited – Tronque Soft Focus Scar Concentrate – created in New Zealand by Tanné Snowden. Snowden was left with five long scars on her stomach after surgery for stage four endometriosis.
“When I came out of surgery, I learned it had taken eight and a half hours. I was left with these really long, intense scars that I was really ashamed of,” she admits. “It was also my second surgery for endometriosis and I didn’t want to have to go through this again.”
During her research, Snowden became aware of endocrine disruptors and after examining the contents of her bathroom cupboard, she discovered the products she had unwittingly been putting on her skin had been contributing to her problems.
“Endocrine disruptors can mimic hormones in the body and for someone like me who’s really estrogen-dominant, I don’t need any more estrogen going on in my life,” she says.
Wanting to treat her scars, she bought lots of products off Amazon and found they either didn’t work or contained harmful ingredients. So she began buying raw ingredients that she’d researched that worked specifically on scars and began experimenting with them.
“I had five scars to work on, so I could tell automatically within the first week what ingredients were working and what weren’t,” she says. “I started playing around more and came up with a formula that completely erased my scars. I was so shocked as I thought I’d be left with these scars for life. It was a moment where I thought, ‘I need to give this to everyone I possibly can’.”
She shared it with friends and family who also found it effective and when she started receiving outside requests she enrolled the help of a chemist.
Created from scratch, the current formula took 200 iterations to perfect and includes all Snowden’s original ingredients – specifically vitamin C – as well as ingredients she hadn’t been able to source in the past, such as gotu kola extract (which increases blood flow to the skin) and pineapple enzymes (which nourish, hydrate and lightly exfoliate).
“Increasing blood flow to the skin allows cell turnover in the collagen production, which is what you need when you have a scar because scars are so hard to change. In normal skin the tissues are crisscrossed, while for scars they are mismatched and a different type of texture,” says Snowden.
Tronque’s Scar Concentrate has been found to work well on surgical, burn and acne scars, says Snowden. Best results occur when the scar is fresh. For older scars, you need to stay committed.
“If you’ve had surgery, wait for the tape that is flattening the scar to come off, or after your stitches are out, before applying,” says Snowden. “You ideally want to begin treating the skin in that golden period but not when your skin is too sensitive.”
And of course, her formula is free of known endocrine disruptors and carcinogens or synthetic dyes or fragrances, so it is suitable for those who are sensitive to outside ingredients.
Before treating scars, find out what type they are as each responds to treatments differently.
Atrophic scars are the most common. They sit below the surrounding skin and are formed when not enough collagen is made when the wound is healing. Hypotrophic scars, meanwhile, sit as raised lumps of scar tissue where acne once was. They are caused by collagen overproduction during healing.
Salicylic acid is known to be beneficial for all scar types but a recent study from the Technical University of Denmark showed that salicylic acid is an endocrine disruptor.
Covering scars with sunscreen is recommended as sun exposure can darken them, making them more noticeable.
Treatments include micro-needling which stimulates collagen production. Or try Tronque!