Scars and Scarring

Scarring occurs on the body following burn injury due to thickening and tightening of the skin, known as contracture. The scar contractures are caused by Fibroblast cells which make up the deeper layer of the skin and are responsible for producing collagen, a rope like molecule required to repair damaged tissue. The Collagen produced by the fibroblasts will gather around a wound and build up in order to seal it over.

With minor wounds the scar will gradually fade, however with more severe wounds this healing process becomes poorly regulated and results in the formation of contractures which cover a greater area than the original wound. These scars and can be severely disfiguring and incapacitating as they are particularly likely to occur around areas of high mobility such as the neck, elbow, wrist and fingers. Once formed these scars are very difficult to treat. 

Image: Surgery to release tight scar tissue

For severe scarrring, surgery is required to improve the appearance and mobility of the part of the body that has been affected. However the results from surgical work on scars can take up to two years to improve their appearance. Also there is a risk that surgery on hypertrophic scars can actually result in worse scarring after the surgery.

Types of scar

A hypertrophic scar is a red, raised scar that forms along a wound and can remain this way for up to five years

 A keloid scar caused by an excess of scar tissue produced at the site of the wound where the scar grows beyond the boundaries of the original wound, even after the wound has healed

A contracture scar is caused by the skin shrinking and tightening, usually after a burn, which can restrict movement

Find out how skin is grafted