From pitted skin from aggressive acne to the telltale signs of a Cesarean section or a suicide attempt, scars are skin disformities that remain after injuries. They're a natural part of healing that may fade over time, but they seldom disappear completely, which is one reason scars are often hidden with makeup, under jewelry, under a wardrobe designed for concealment or even with the clever application of a tattoo. The long-term appearance of scarring can be different for different people, though. Sex, age, ethnicity and the location of the scar itself can all contribute to how a scar will look over time [source: Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine].
Although scars may be inevitable after an injury, there are a number of varieties:
- Contracture scars - These are the often shiny scars from burns. They can make the surrounding skin feel tight and uncomfortable. In extreme cases, contracture scars can also effect surrounding nerves and muscle tissue.
- Acne scars - You're probably familiar with acne scars and may even have a few. They can look like pits or craters, and even as lines or gouges. Acne scars range in severity, and even extensive acne scarring may respond to laser and other modern treatments.
- Keloid scars - Keloid scars can occur when the healing process becomes so aggressive that scar tissue builds up and extends beyond the area of the original injury. In some cases, scar tissue can be surgically removed or softened and flattened with the help of steroid injections or silicone gel sheets. The appearance of scarring can also be diminished using laser treatments, cryotherapy (freezing) and dermabrasion.
- Hypertrophic scars - Less extreme than keloid scars, hypertropic scars can appear red and thick but don't extend beyond the area affected by the original injury.