Lasers, Surgery, Cortisone, and Tissue Fillers
The method: Lasers
What it's good for: Large, discolored, and raised scars
How it works: Usually used in conjunction with microdermabrasion, lasers penetrate deep into the skin, helping break down excess skin tissue that forms scars and smooth out scars that are lumpy. What's more, discoloration absorbs the laser's light, so it can make red or brown scars match the rest of your skin.
The method: Surgical scar revision
What it's good for: Wide or long scars, or those in prominent places
How it works: A dermatologist surgically removes the scar tissue, then rejoins the surrounding skin in a smoother, more even way. While you'll still be left with a scar, its severity and lumpy texture will be much less than that of the previous scar. However, the revision is a surgical procedure, so it requires a stronger commitment than some of the at-home methods.
The method: Cortisone injections
What it's good for: Raised, overgrown scars
How it works: Your dermatologist injects cortisone, a steroid, into the scar tissue. The cortisone helps the scar tissue shrink and flatten out, so it's a bit less noticeable.
The method: Soft tissue fillers
What it's good for: Depressed, pitted scars
How it works: Using the same material used to plump up lips and wrinkles, a dermatologist injects collagen or fat into pitted scars to help build up the tissue underneath the depression. You'll need to redo the injections every few months to maintain the change.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, March 2006.