Scar tissue can sometimes be associated with pain, although not everyone with scar tissue experiences discomfort. Changes in appearance can negatively affect body image and self-esteem. Scar disfigurement can cause depression and anxiety in patients, especially those who have suffered burns.
Development Of Scar Tissue
After an injury, scar tissue forms as part of the body’s natural healing process. Here is a detailed explanation of how scar tissue develops:
- Initial Skin or Tissue Injury: The process begins with a skin or tissue injury. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including wounds, burns, surgery, and other traumatic events.
- Inflammatory Response: In response to damaged tissue, the immune system of the body initiates an inflammatory process. This involves the release of various compounds, such as cytokines and growth factors.
- Blood Clotting and Scabs: When a wound is exposed, the body’s blood clotting mechanisms work to stop bleeding. The formation of a scab on the incision provides a barrier against infection.
- Formation of Granulation Tissue: Under the crust, the body begins to produce granulation tissue. This tissue is composed of new blood vessels, collagen, and other cells. It aids in wound closure and promotes the formation of new epidermis.
- Collagen formation, a protein that is stiff and fibrous, is an essential component of scar tissue. Fibroblasts, which are specialized cells in the body, produce collagen to aid in tissue repair.
- Maturation phase: The initial collagen fibers that form during the remodeling phase are not as organized or as robust as the original tissue. The scar tissue is progressively remodeled by the body, which realigns and strengthens the collagen fibers.
This process can take anywhere from several months to a year. During this time, scar tissue continues to mature and undergo change. Initially, scars may be red, raised, and rigid, but over time they typically become softer, flattened, and less visible.
Treatment Options For Scar Management
The scar’s location is crucial. For instance, scarring near joints or in highly mobile areas of the body may be more likely to cause discomfort.
Physical therapy can assist in enhancing range of motion and reducing discomfort associated with scar tissue.
Sometimes, massage or manual therapy can help to break up scar tissue and enhance mobility.
Certain lotions or ointments may be prescribed to soften scar tissue and diminish its appearance.
Surgical intervention may be considered in some cases, particularly when scar tissue causes severe pain or significantly restricts movement.
If someone is experiencing pain or discomfort due to scar tissue, they should consult a healthcare provider immediately. They can assess and recommend suitable treatment options. This is not a replacement for professional medical advice. Always consult a medical professional if you have any concerns about scar tissue or associated discomfort.
American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/kids/skin/scars
Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/11030-scars
Ngaage M, Agius M. The Psychology of Scars: A Mini-Review. Psychiatr Danub. 2018 Nov;30(Suppl 7):633-638. PMID: 30439862.
Jagdeo J, Shumaker PR. Traumatic Scarring. JAMA Dermatol. 2017;153(3):364. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2016.5232.
Carver, Cheryl. “How Scar Tissue Causes Pain and Tips for Management.” WoundSource, 28 April. 2021, https://www.woundsource.com/blog/how-scar-tissue-causes-pain-and-tips-management
Important Notice: The views and opinions stated in this blog are exclusively those of the author and do not reflect iWound Global, iWound Care USA, Inc., its affiliates, or partner companies. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.