Updated: Apr 7, 2021
They say that every scar tells a story - but when it comes to scarring from acne or an unpleasant memory, many of us are ready to start a new chapter. Fortunately, there are a variety of treatments to improve the appearance of all types of scars. There are four main categories of treatment options: topical creams, injectables, non-surgical cosmetic procedures, and minor surgical procedures. This guide will walk you through the more popular treatments in each category to help you determine the best option for your scar.
Best for: Minor scars, hyperpigmented scars
How does it work? If you are dealing with a minor scar (such as a well-healed but still visible surgical incision) a topical cream, gel, or ointment may be an effective option for you. Topical treatments can include steroid, lightening agents, and/or silicone depending on your individual scar.
Steroid: Corticosteroid creams are used to help with scar sensitivity and/or to help reduce the size of the scar. It works by combating inflammation and reducing the amount of scar tissue in the area.
Lightening agent: If your primary concern with your scar is hyperpigmentation (a visibly darker patch of skin), a topical cream containing lightening agents such as hydroquinone and/or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic acid can help lighten the area when applied consistently.
Silicone: Silicone for scar treatment is available in gel or sheet form and can be applied topically to help smooth out and flatten a raised scar. This is because medical-grade silicone increases hydration levels in the top layer of the skin while slowing down collagen production, reducing scar tissue and softening the skin.
Pros of topical treatments: Non-invasive and nonsurgical; little to no downtime; can be more cost-effective than other options.
Cons of topical treatments: Results show gradually; requires consistent use of products to make a difference; results from topical treatment may be less dramatic when compared to injectables or procedures.
Best for: Very deep or very raised scars
How does it work? Steroid or filler are both used as injectable scar treatments to improve uniformity.
Steroid injection: Similar to a topical steroid treatment, steroid injections can help improve the appearance of very raised (“3-D”) scars by reducing inflammation and scar