When our skin tissue is damaged, our body’s wound healing mechanism is initiated and attempts to repair the wound by increasing collagen production at the site of the injury. A scar is the residual fibrous tissue that remains on the skin even after the damaged tissue has healed. Scarring is a natural part of the post-injury healing process; however, the appearance of the scar and its treatment are dependent upon a number of factors:
- The location of the injury
- The depth and size of the wound or cut
- The patient’s ethnicity, gender, age, and genetics
- The blood supply to the area
- The direction of the scar
- The thickness and color of the patient’s skin
There are three primary types of scars that may result from a hand injury or trauma:
- Keloid Scars: keloid scars are large, irregular scars that expand outward, beyond the site of the initial injury. This type of scarring typically results from an overly aggressive healing process. Keloid scars are most common among patients with darker tones—if left untreated, keloid scars may hinder movement over time. Keloid scar treatments include: surgery to remove the scar, steroid injections, or silicone sheets to flatten the scar. Smaller keloids may be treated by freezing therapy with liquid nitrogen (cryotherapy).
- Hypertrophic Scars: hypertrophic scars are raised, red scars that are similar to keloids but remain within the confines of the initial injury or cut and do not extend beyond the boundary of the injury. Common hypertrophic scar treatments include injections of steroids (i.e. cortisone) to reduce inflammation and to soften and flatten the appearance of the scar. Silicone sheets may also be helpful to flatten the scar. Hypertrophic scars are usually asymptomatic, pink, relatively firm, and cord-like in nature.
- Contracture scars. this category of scarring is typically associated with burn-related injuries—contracture scars tend to tighten the skin, potentially hindering the patient’s mobility. In severe cases, contracture scars may damage the patient’s musculature and nerves.
Although it is not possible to completely remove all traces of a scar, skilled plastic surgeons may be able to minimize the scar’s appearance. At Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, located in Atlanta, Georgia, triple board certified surgeon Dr. Asaf Yalif specializes in the field of cosmetic and reconstructive hand surgery, and offers cutting edge treatments to minimize and soften the appearance of scarring on the hands. After assessing the nature of the scar, Dr. Yalif may choose one or more of the following scar revision treatments:
- Injections: cortisone (steroid) injections can be helpful as a solo or ancillary treatment for keloid or hypertrophic scars
- Prescription or OTC (over the counter) creams, ointments, or gels: primarily utilized for scars stemming from cuts or wounds, this category of scar treatment may include topical steroids or antihistamine creams, which help to minimize discomfort and itching
- Surgical removal or treatment: severe, deep scars may require surgical intervention, such as: excision, dermabrasion, skin grafts, or laser surgery. Scar revision with skin grafting and flaps is ideally suited for patients who have sustained severe burns, and may also help to improve any functional or mobility issues resulting from the scarring.
- Skin Grafts and Flaps: when there is an insufficient amount of skin at the site of the injury, Dr. Yalif may elect to excise (remove) the scar tissue, and then perform a skin graft/flap procedure to restore a more normal, healthy appearance to the injured area.
- During a skin graft procedure, Dr. Yalif will harvest a thin layer of healthy skin from one area of the body and graft this skin to the injured area
- In contrast to skin grafts, skin flaps are full-thickness fragments of tissue with their own blood supply, and are generally removed from a site as close to the injured/scarred area as possible
CONTACT Y PLASTIC AND RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY
Dr. Asaf Yalif, lead surgeon at Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, is uniquely qualified to provide advanced, cutting-edge surgical treatment options for degenerative or traumatic hand and upper extremity issues. The only surgeon in the Atlanta area specializing in the rare combination of hand and plastic surgery, Dr. Yalif is triple Board Certified in Plastic Surgery, Hand Surgery, and Orthopedic Surgery. His unique perspective on soft tissue, joint, and bone-related conditions of the hand, fingers, wrist, and elbow enables him to offer a variety of medical and surgical options unavailable at traditional orthopedic practices. Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery is a friendly, welcoming boutique medical practice where cutting-edge surgical techniques are coupled with an emphasis on the patient experience; whether you are dealing with a traumatic injury or a long-standing degenerative disease, Dr. Yalif will take the time to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and work closely with you to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to ensure that your hands can work as hard as you do!
Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery has offices conveniently located in Atlanta, Roswell, and Woodstock, Georgia. If you have sustained an injury to your hands or upper extremities and are left with unsightly scarring, we encourage you to contact Y Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery today to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!