Many of Dr. Lisa Kellett’s patients have something to hide.
For the most part, there are no dark secrets lurking within. It’s what’s on the surface that troubles them the most: scars.
Kellett has patients who try to hide them with long-sleeved shirts. Others wear turtleneck sweaters in July. More consistently style their hair to cover one side of their face.
“For people who have scars, it can be very debilitating,” says the Toronto-based dermatologist.
“No one talks about scars and I see a lot of people who really don’t like their scars. People are very self-conscious.” The saying might be that a person is “scarred for life,” but Kellett says that’s not entirely true. There are options few people are aware of.
“Once you have a scare it will never fully go away but there are a heck of a lot of things now that we can do to help make it look better,” Kellett says. “It’s not like you treat it and it’s gone completely. But you can make it less red or flatter. You can make it blend in with surrounding skin a little better. That would be a reasonable expectation.”
If appropriate, she recommends patients start with the least expensive option- coverup creams. They’re more effective than in the past and, for many, it does the trick.
Silicone Sheets If that doesn’t work there are silicone sheets on the market that might. When applied to a scar, the technology mimics the natural barrier function of healthy skin and hydrates it to diminish the scar’s appearance and size. Raised scars can become flatter, smoother, while red, discoloured scar tissue can fade to a more natural skin tone.
Steroid injections are a common treatment but must be administered by a physician and start at $50. Laser treatment, which has a starting price of $350, can also be effective.
“I usually start with the cheapest and easiest,” Kellett says. No matter what route a patient goes, she says the newer the scar, the easier it is to treat.
“I like to see a scar that’s red, because I have a lot more treatment options. If I see a scar that’s 25 years old, can I make it better? Yes. But not as much improvement with a newer scar.