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  • How Long Does It Take For A Scar To Heal?

How Long Does It Take For A Scar To Heal?

  • Neodyne
  • April 12, 2022

After having an injury or surgery, you may be wondering how long it will take for your scar to heal completely. Well, a scar can heal within 12 to 18 weeks in most cases. However, how long your specific scar will take to heal depends on various factors, including size, depth, type of scar, and proper wound care. While scars aren't visually appealing, they're a natural part of the healing process and require patience.

In this guide, we'll go over the scar recovery process and provide tips to ensure a healthy scar recovery so you can enjoy blemish-free skin. Continue reading from start to finish for a comprehensive look at scar healing or use the links below.

What Is A Scar?

The first step in learning how long a scar takes to heal is knowing what scars are. Scars are your body's natural way of repairing broken, lost, cut, or damaged skin caused by accidents, infections, burns, surgery, acne, and tissue inflammation.

Scars can form in several shapes and sizes, depending on the severity of the wound, and anywhere around your body. This can cause the scars to vary in pain as well. Typically, the skin will repair itself in three phases:

  • Inflammatory phase
  • Proliferative phase
  • Remodeling phase

During these stages, which we'll discuss more in-depth later on, the skin will grow new tissue and fill the wound to close it, leading to the formation of a scar. The new tissue is made up of fibrous tissue known as collagen. It can take 12 to 18 weeks for this process to complete. As your scar heals, its appearance will change over time and eventually fade partially, and in some cases, completely.

Types Of Scars

Understanding scars and knowing what causes the common scars mentioned above can help you find the appropriate treatment in order to accelerate the recovery process. There are many types of scars that can arise due to injuries and surgery that you should watch out for, including:

  • Contracture — These scars primarily develop after a burn, causing the skin to tighten. This effect can impact muscles, joints, and tendons, thus limiting movement. A skin graft can help the skin restore to its normal appearance.
  • Depressed (atrophic) — Atrophic scars appear as small indentations on the skin when your body can't regenerate the tissue. If you're prone to acne or have had chickenpox, you've most likely seen what an atrophic scar looks like. Chemical peels, fillers, skin needling, and over-the-counter ointments are common treatment options.
  • Flat — Flat scars will typically start off looking raised with a pink or red hue. They'll typically flatten over time and go away on their own but can leave a scar that's lighter or darker than your skin tone. To minimize their appearance, surgery, silicone injections, and silicone sheets can be used.
  • Keloids — Thick, raised, and irregular scars that expand beyond the wound or healing incision occur whenever the skin is broken. These can form anywhere on the body and be dark in color. Steroid injections, cryotherapy, pressure therapy, radiation, and surgery can effectively make the scars less noticeable.
  • Raised (hypertrophic) — While hypertrophic scars are similar to keloids, the main difference is that raised scars don't expand past the incision site. Treatments include surgery, laser therapy, direct application, steroids, and injections.
  • Stretch marks — Stretch marks often happen when the skin expands or shrinks too quickly, such as during pregnancy, weight gain, or puberty. These scars will fade over time, but you can speed up the process with chemical peels, laser therapy, over-the-counter ointments, and prescription medicine.
Woman displaying keloid scar on shoulder

Once you identify which scar you have, you can obtain the appropriate treatment to support your recovery.

The Scar Healing Process

If you've been asking yourself, “how long does it take to heal a scar?”, the answer is approximately 12 to 18 weeks, depending on the type of scar, location, and how you got it. Some scars may take less time, while others can take longer. For example, tummy tuck scars and acne scars. Regardless, scars will often follow the three healing stages below:

  • Inflammatory phase — When you first have a wound, your body's reparative cells will gather around the affected area and start to increase collagen production to form scar tissue. Scars are very vulnerable during the inflammatory, or closure, phase. This occurs one week to a month after the skin is broken.
  • Proliferative phase — Also known as the establishment phase, your body will continue to produce collagen fibers to fill any gaps in the wound and strengthen the incision. Blood supply around the area will also rise and cause the scar to thicken and darken. The proliferative phase will happen 45 days after injury or surgery.
  • Remodeling phase — The final stage refers to the maturation phase of the healing process. At maturity, the dry scar tissue is often thinner and lighter because enough collagen has been formed at the wound and blood supply has decreased. It can take one to two years to fully reach this stage. You can also use silicone gel sheets to reduce the appearance of scars. embrace® carries a long line of scar treatment kits that can tackle everything from c-section to liposuction scars.

Scar healing can also be divided into two categories: primary intention and second intention. According to Yale Medicine, wounds healing by primary intention have been sutured together to assist with the closing of the skin. On the other hand, the second intention category refers to scars that heal naturally and on their own. This can be a scrape from falling, scars left from acne, and so on.

Woman applying scar cream to wrist

Scar Care Tips For Faster Healing

Even though scars are essential to repairing broken skin, it doesn't make them any less frustrating. Scars are often a significant insecurity for many people and they can take a toll on one's self-confidence. To help you heal faster and reduce the appearance of noticeable scarring, here are a few tips:

  • Handle your scar carefully — Knowing how to handle your scar can minimize the likelihood of the wound becoming infected and ensure there's no delay in recovery. Always make sure that you wash your hands prior to touching the scar and avoid picking or scratching it. You also want to pat it dry after every shower or whenever it's wet.
  • Keep it moisturized — To prevent your skin from drying out, use fragrance-free moisturizing cream with vitamin E twice a day.
  • Wear loose clothing — Allow your scar to breathe with loose clothing. This will prevent the scar from rubbing against your clothing and becoming irritated.
  • Eat a balanced diet — Eat healthy foods rich in protein, essential vitamins, and minerals to support your body during the healing process. This also includes staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water.
  • Stop smoking — Smoking can hinder your recovery, so it's a good idea to kick this habit until the scar reaches maturity and it's done healing.
  • Protect your scar from sunlight — Shielding your scars from the sun is essential to preventing permanent hyperpigmentation. New scars typically are particularly sensitive to sunlight and can burn more easily than the surrounding skin. If you can't keep your scar out of the sun, use sunscreen with an SPF of 50 or higher, ensuring you apply one hour before exposure and reapplying it regularly.
  • Stay active — Although intense exercises may be off-limits with mommy makeover scars, moving and staying active is important for your healing. From walking inside your home to doing outdoor yoga, there are various activities that'll help you get moving.
  • Massage your scar — The best way to tackle itchy scars is by carefully massaging them since you can't scratch them. It can also help flatten the scar.

If you're worried about your scar's healing, consider visiting a dermatologist. They'll be able to guide you in the right direction and ensure it's a stress-free recovery.

Woman examining acne scars in mirror

Scar Healing: Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make my scars heal faster?

While healing takes time, there are a few ways that you can speed up your scar's recovery time. This includes:

  • Being careful with your scars
  • Staying healthy
  • Using sunscreen

What should a scar look like when healing?

How your scar looks when it's healing will depend on the type of scar you have. Some scars will be raised at the beginning and gradually flatten out, while others will remain thick. When assessing your scars during the healing process, make sure that there are no signs of infection, such as:

  • Foul-smelling odor from wound
  • Yellow, white, or green discharge
  • Increased swelling

How long does a scar stay red?

On average, scars will stay red for seven months and will begin to darken after this point.

Final Notes

How long it takes for a scar to heal ultimately depends on the type of scar you have and how it developed. Recovery typically takes 12 to 18 weeks, but it can be less or more than this timeframe. Fortunately, there are various steps you can take to speed up recovery and ensure the scar heals nicely. For example, using a scar treatment from embrace®.

embrace® offers top-quality scar treatments, including solutions for scars caused by tummy tucks, mommy makeovers, breast lifts, cuts, stretch marks, and more. Whether you're trying to minimize scarring on an old or new scar, we're here to help. Use our personalized treatment tool to find the best scar treatment for you.