Written for Scars1 by Michelle Alford
The first known substance to treat scars was honey. Hippocrates and Aristotle both praised honey’s medicinal properties. Ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, Romans, and Chinese all used honey to treat wounds and infections. People discovered that applying raw honey to cuts and burns would prevent scarring.
In the 17th century, William Fabry, often referred to as the father of German surgery, developed new lotions to help heal burn scars. His lotions were meant to soften the hardness of scars so that the skin could be stretched and repaired. One of these lotions included hen and bear’s grease, flower oil, egg yolks, and the juice of earthworms. The other combined roots, flowers, and seeds and boiled them with the head and feet of castrated sheep.
Modern lotions may use different ingredients, but they work on the same principle as the lotions created by William Fabry. Damaged skin loses moisture quicker than healthy skin. Lotions hydrate scars and smooth their appearance. Most scar removal lotions also include a medicinal ingredient that properly heals the wound.
After thousands of years, honey is still being used as a treatment for scars. Many modern lotions include honey to help moisturize and heal scars.
Hippocrates was the first known physician to suggest treating scars with moisture and warmth. Silicone scar sheets, developed in the 20th century, best fulfill his recommendation. Silicone sheets, which are applied to scars or newly healed wounds, warm and hydrate the skin. They’re used both to prevent scars from forming and flatten existing scars.
Laser scar removal was first introduced in the 1980s. Early lasers were more aggressive and destroyed the top layers of skin. This resulted in longer recoveries. Newer lasers are fractioned. This means that instead of burning large portions of skin, the lasers create hundreds of microscopic holes. The healthy skin surrounding these holes help heal the damaged tissue. This results in a much quicker and less painful process. Modern laser scar removal is an outpatient procedure that requires only local anesthesia.
Scars still can’t be entirely removed. However, scar treatment has significantly evolved over the past fifty years and new treatments are constantly being developed. It’s only a matter of time before scars can be completely erased.
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Photo: Austin Evan