I would bet that if I did a survey amongst my patients, just about all of them would have at least one scar, big or small, somewhere on them. In fact, about 43 million Americans have scars of all types, sizes and severity. Even though they’re so common, scars anywhere on your body, especially your face, can be embarrassing and lower your self-esteem. They can cause you to avoid many social situations, even relationships!

You may think you have to live with a scar, but, really, there are a lot of things you can do to greatly diminish the appearance of even old scars. Let me tell you about how to prevent many scars from even developing or greatly minimize their appearance.


Now, there are certain scars that you can’t prevent from occurring such as when there is a deep wound like those from certain surgeries or accidents, but even these can be influenced to heal better so the scar is much less visible.

A scar results when your skin tries to repair itself by “knitting” itself back together. Generally, after about 3 months, the wound’s appearance will start to fade, depending on the severity of it. It will get less red and start to blend in more with the surrounding skin. During this initial healing period is when you can have the most influence on how visible the scar will be. Here are some natural things you can do:

Vitamin C: Upping your intake of vitamin C increases your skin’s healing as it helps form collagen, a material that builds a solid matrix in your skin so it can heal evenly. 1-2,000 mg a day taken in divided doses of 500 mg each will greatly help heal your wound from the inside. It also boosts your immune system, which promotes faster healing.
Vitamin E: Another vitamin that helps skin heal is Vitamin E. 400 mg a day taken internally. In addition, breaking open a smaller Vitamin E capsule and rubbing the oil directly onto the wound will help it heal with a very minimal scar or none at all. See massage below.
Beta-carotene: Another immune system booster, 2,000 mg of beta-carotene (precursor of Vitamin A), helps skin heal and minimizes scarring.
Zinc: Make sure you’re getting about 15 mg a day from a multivitamin or single source.
Protein: Adequate protein intake is important at all times but especially so when you need to heal a wound and not form a scar. 75-100 grams of protein a day, made up of a combination of vegetable and animal proteins will provide all the amino acids necessary.
Massage: After any staples, sutures, tapes, or other binding materials have been removed, if there is not too much pain and your doctor gives the okay, begin to gently massage for a few minutes every day. Start in a clockwise fashion, using the tips of your index and middle finger, and slowly make circular movements on the scar. Then reverse going counterclockwise. This helps stimulate blood flow to the skin and break down any keloid formations (from collagen clumping) that may be forming. This also helps to improve the looks of old scars as well. This is good to do when you apply Vitamin E.
Keep it Clean: Wounds are more likely to develop scars if the tissues become dirty and/or infected. Clean daily and apply a little antibiotic ointment enough to cover the wound lightly and keep it a little moist. Keep it lightly covered, but not airtight. Follow your doctor’s directions about getting it wet in the shower or bath.
Sun: Protect wounds from the sun while healing which can either cause too much pigmentation making it darker, or too little which can leave the area white.

Diminish Old Scars

There are a few ways to diminish the look of old scars that you may have thought nothing could be done about. These range from rub on scar reducer creams to medical laser treatments to advanced cosmetics. Let’s take a basic look at these methods:

Scar Reducers: There are over-the-counter scar reducers that you can find in your local pharmacy and see advertised on TV. They contain silicone and can both help prevent scarring as well as diminish the appearance of even very old scars. There are also some all-natural scar wound healing/scar reducing products that contain organic plant extracts of Helichrysum, rose hip seed oil, italidiones, as well as ketones and triple unsaturated fatty acids that help regenerate skin. These are often found at health food stores with a good skin product department.

Laser Therapy: Modern medicine has progressed to the point where lasers are used more and more for all kinds of procedures, and dermatology (the study of skin) is one field where they’ve shown quite a bit of promise. Laser therapy to remove/reduce scars works like this:
• The laser is moved along the scar, which removes the top old layer of skin (scar) exposing a more natural looking layer of skin, which blends in with its surrounding skin.
• Other laser treatments target deeper tissues to stimulate collagen growth inside the scar and help it to re-knit itself back together in a more optimal way with minimal/no scar.
Laser scar removal/therapy is usually done under a local anesthetic but sometimes may require general anesthesia if deep treatments are required. They are done either in an outpatient surgery department or the laser surgeon’s office. They can be a little pricey, but depending on the severity of the scar you have, you may feel laser removal worthwhile.

Cosmetic Concealers: Concealing scars with makeup is a common way to deal with them and for many types of scars works just fine. These are waterproof, skin-toned concealers that have the consistency of pancake, or theatrical make-up. Depending on the severity of your scar, they can work very well, completely hiding the scar, and/or minimizing it greatly. In fact, I have several patients who use these products. They can even be used while waiting for a scar-reducing product to diminish the scar as well. There are separate formulas for the face and legs/body. These products are usually carried by better department stores that have extensive makeup departments and/or over the Internet.

Scars can make us very self-conscious and uncomfortable about our appearance. However, as I counsel my patients, don’t let a scar stop you from being the friendly, social person you want to be. With a little help from the recommendations listed above, you can do a lot to get rid of, or greatly minimize the appearance of scaring.

Jay Brachfeld, M.D.

Author's Bio: 

* BS Chemistry Massachusetts Institute of Technology
* MD State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine
* Dermatology Residency: Baylor College of Medicine
* Board Certified in Dermatology
* Member American Academy of Dermatology