Back in June, in a 7 Quick Takes post, I mentioned (in take #6) that I was developing keloid scarring after my surgery. In my case (thankfully), I should use the term “hypertrophic” scarring. I get a lot of hits on that post and I see the search string nearly EVERY day in my stats, so I thought I’d follow up for those who hit my blog looking for info on hypertrophic scarring and possible treatments. First, let’s clarify the difference between keloid and hypertrophic scars:
“Hypertrophic scars are typically raised, erythematous (red, pink, or purple) and stiffer than the surrounding skin. Over time most hypertrophic scars mature resulting in a scar remnant that appears like that of a normal scar except it is typically wider than if the scar had not become hypertrophic. Note that when an incisional wound heals normally, the resulting scar remnant may be as fine as a simple pencil line across the skin, while the matured hypertrophic scar may appear wider, like that left by a pencil eraser. Hypertrophic scars often are associated with hypersensitivity to touch (like clothing sliding across the skin), and they may itch or be generally painful.
Keloids have been described as hypertrophic scars on steroids! By definition, a hypertrophic scar remains within the boundaries of the original injury while a keloid may grow beyond those boundaries. Also, while hypertrophic scars typically regress over time, keloids generally do not.
Because the distinction between hypertrophic scars and keloids is often unclear, the medical literature and medical professionals often use the terms interchangeably.” (For more info and treatment alternatives, visit the source of this quote.)
The hypertrophic scarring was not a surprise for me. I had the same problem after my two previous abdominal surgeries. My mom has a few hypertrophic scars. Maybe it’s hereditary.
Back in June, my doctor treated the scar by injecting steroids directly into them. There was still swelling and numbness, so I didn’t feel a thing. Then in August, he injected steroids into them again and still numb, I didn’t feel a thing. He also suggested I tape the scar – just apply medical/paper tape directly over the scar, providing slight pressure and support 24/7. There are indications that the application of paper tape reduces the scarring. The paper tape stays on for days, even after showering.
So on Friday, I was back for my six month follow-up and while the scar isn’t worse, it’s still hypertrophic. I admitted to my doctor that I was good about taping it for about three weeks. Then . . . not so much. More steroid injections into the scar. And I’m not so numb anymore. ouch. and again. OUCH. But seriously, that pain? Compared to what I’ve already experienced? nuthin.
I am going to be more consistent about the taping.