Scars and stretch marks
Scars form as the body tries to fix an injury of the skin through a process of laying down collagen and then remodeling it. This process can take anywhere from 8-18 months. The cause of the scar (trauma, surgery, acne, rapid stretch of the skin, etc), genetics, skill of the person closing the wound, and management of the scar while it is healing all play a large role in the final outcome of the scar. If a scar has healed or is starting to heal in a less than ideal way, lasers can be used to avoid revisional surgery.
Laser Scar Revision
Scars become noticeable if they are a different color, different texture, or different contour from the surrounding skin. Lasers have been used for decades to improve the appearance of scars with increasing success. The latest technology today is making surgical scar revision something of the past. Lasers improve scars in two ways: 1) Removing pigments (usually red) and allowing the color to blend to the surrounding tissue. 2) Newer laser modalities have been created that painlessly vaporize portions of the irregular fibrosis and collagen that caused the scar and stimulate new collagen deposition. This adds new healthy collagen to the scar that can then be molded with different products into a much more organized pattern producing a softer, lighter, and smoother scar. Stretch marks, although they never produce and open wound are a disruption of the collagen and elastin of the dermal skin that heals similarly to a scar. They are treated the same way.
It is best to wait at least 6 months before attempting laser modification as the wounds are still in a healing phase and will continue to get better and better on their own. Waiting 12-18 months is ideal so that you are treating the final scar. Unprotected sun exposure should be avoided for 3-4 weeks before and 3-4 weeks after any laser treatment. Multiple lasers and multiple treatments may be used depending on the characteristics of the scar and the goals of the revision. A consultation prior to your procedure will help identify the perfect treatment plan for you.