If you’re at the ER for stitches, ask for the plastic surgeon on call

May 2, 2012

Avoid a railroad track scar; get stitches removed after about four days.
Avoid a railroad track scar; get stitches removed after about four days.

Acne, burns, dog bites, falls, surgery and other such miserable events are not only traumatic to experience but, to add insult to injury, leave their marks in the forms of scars. You may be able to live with a scar on your knee, but even boxers dislike facial scars. The May 2012 issue of Allure enlists experts from different specialties to provide you with the most effective tools to disguise,improve and prevent facial scars.

If your scar is a white line, a New York City dermatologist recommends that you visit a professional who specializes in micropigmentation (like permanent eye makeup) to match your skin color and fill in the scar. This is a good tip for women with recent facelifts who want to wear high ponytails.

Mother warned us not to do pimple surgery in the bathroom, but we did, resulting in “ice pick scars” that taper down into tissue, creating a “V.” Prescription retinoid cream can improve these scars but an in-office “punch incision” treatment, at the hands of a board-certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist, can erase them. “More severe cases require punch grafting, which involves covering the holes with a slightly larger bit of skin taken from behind the ear,” advises a Manhattan professor of dermatology. If any unevenness remains after a week, dermabrasion or a laser will clear it up.

What about wavy acne scars? If you have a depressed scar; a “rolling” (wavy) scar; or pocked “boxcar” scars, resembling large pores or indentations left from stitches, the Manhattan dermatologist recommends undergoing treatments using lasers, fillers, or a combination of the two.

According to a 2011 study in Dermatologic Surgery, patients experience about a 72 percent decrease in scarring with four or five sessions of fractional lasers spaced two weeks apart.

So, what can you do to minimize scarring following a simple injury? For a minor burn or a skinned knee, clean the area with lukewarm water and a gentle cleanser, and apply cool compresses. Then apply a moisturizing ointment like Aquaphor or Silvadene and cover the injured area with gauze or a bandage. A dermatologist advises that the thinking used to be “air it out,” but not anymore. Moisture allows skin cells and blood vessels to regenerate quickly. Reapply ointment frequently; if a scab forms, it’s too dry. When the skin is healed, apply a scar-diminishing balm such as KeloCote daily and protect from the sun.

Finally, any ragged cut that would benefit from stitches, but doesn’t get them, can scar. If you’re in the ER needing stitches, ask for the plastic surgeon on call. Further, a Manhattan plastic surgeon advises, “Make an appointment to have the stitches removed, usually after about four days, since waiting too long can result in one of those railroad track-like Frankenscars.”


The mission of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) includes medical education, public education and patient advocacy. Plastic Surgery News Briefs are summaries of current stories found through various news and magazine outlets that relate to or mention plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. The views expressed in these news articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASAPS, but are merely published as an educational service to our members and the general public. For additional information on these subjects and other plastic surgery related topics, please go to www.surgery.org

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About ASAPS
The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS), is recognized as the world’s leading organization devoted entirely to aesthetic plastic surgery and cosmetic medicine of the face and body.  ASAPS is comprised of over 2,600 Plastic Surgeons; active members are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (USA) or by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and have extensive training in the complete spectrum of surgical and non-surgical aesthetic procedures. International active members are certified by equivalent boards of their respective countries. All members worldwide adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and must meet stringent membership requirements.

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