What are possible treatments for scars?

Over-the-counter or prescription creams, ointments or gels: These products may reduce scars that are caused by surgical incisions (cuts) or other injuries or wounds. If you are under the care of a dermatologist or plastic surgeon, ask your doctor for recommendations. Treatment options include corticosteroids or antihistamine creams (if your scars are sensitive and cause itching). Your doctor may also recommend intralesional steroid injections, pressure dressings or silicone gel sheeting to prevent acne scars and to help treat existing scars.

Surgery: There are many options under this category, including skin grafts, excision (removal) or laser surgery. When looking into surgery, discuss with your doctor whether you will have local anesthesia with an oral sedative, or general anesthesia. If you’ve recently had plastic, cosmetic or other surgery that has caused your scars, it is best to wait at least one year before making a decision about scar removal treatment. Many scars fade and become less noticeable over time.

If you do opt for scar revision surgery, be sure to keep the area moist so the sutures can come off easily. (If a scab should form, it will delay the healing process and create more scarring.) The more moist the healing environment, the better the scar will look. Use petroleum jelly or any of the silicone scar creams, gels or sheets.

Injections: In the case of protruding scars such as keloids or hypertrophic scars, your doctor may choose to use steroid injections to flatten the scars. Such injections can be used as a stand-alone treatment, or in combination with other treatments.

Laser surgery: Vascular (blood vessel)-specific lasers may be used to lighten flat or raised scars that are pink to purple in color. Vascular laser treatment may also help flatten raised scars. A carbon dioxide ablative laser can also be used to treat different types of scars.

Will insurance cover scar removal treatments?

If your scar is hurting you physically, your insurance plan may cover the cost. You can ask your doctor to write a letter about your particular case. He or she can also take photos to support your case.

If you are having scar removal treatment for cosmetic purposes (for your appearance), you will probably have to pay for it yourself. If your scars resulted from cosmetic surgery, your insurance company may or may not pay for treatment. Some plans will not cover treatments that arise from elective surgery that is not medically necessary. It is best to check with your insurance plan.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 04/19/2016.

References

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine. Scars. Accessed 8/11/2020.
  • American Society for Dermatologic Surgery. Scars. Accessed 8/11/2020.
  • American Osteopathic College of Dermatology. Keloids and Hypertrophic Scars. Accessed 8/11/2020.

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