A hypertrophic scar is a scar which becomes swollen, puffy, and reddened, causing it to stand out from the surrounding skin. These types of scars are sometimes confused with keloids, scars which look similar, but behave slightly differently. There's no particular reason why some injuries scar worse than others; hypertrophic scars form when something goes awry with the healing process, and this can happen in any number of circumstances.
Unlike a keloid, a hypertrophic scar will not grow and spread. Once the scar covers the wound, it will remain the same size, and in many cases, it will resolve over time. After several years, the scar can shrink considerably, and also lighten in color, making it less visible. For this reason, people who want to get rid of their scars are sometimes advised to wait and see if the scars dissolve on their own, rather than enduring medical procedures to address the issue.
The material inside the scar is collagen generated by the body as it attempts to heal the underlying injury. Hypertrophic scars usually feel firm to the touch, and they may be sensitive to changes in temperature or texture. People may want to get rid of them for a variety of reasons, ranging from a belief that the scar is unsightly to contractures which restrict movement, caused by scars along joints and in other inconvenient areas.
Conservative treatment approaches are usually used first to handle this type of scar. The doctor may start with steroid injections to shrink the scar, or recommendations for natural remedies like tea tree oil, salt soaks, or vitamin E oil applied topically to reduce the size of the scar. If these measures do not work, surgery can be used to remove the scar or to shrink it. Laser is one of the preferred methods, although there are other options.
Dermatologists and plastic surgeons can both provide treatment for hypertrophic scars and keloids. Plastic surgeons often have access to the latest technology and research, and they may offer a more pleasing outcome for people with major aesthetic concerns.
The probability of forming raised scars after an injury appears to be reduced by using pressure dressings on injuries. Application of pressure to the site can inhibit scar formation, making a hypertrophic scar or keloid less likely. Patients should be careful about how they use pressure, as they may inadvertently cause damage in their eagerness to avoid scarring. It's a good idea to address concerns about scars with a doctor and to follow his or her treatment recommendations. Pressure pads may be recommended if a scar is removed surgically to prevent a recurrence.