Scars -whether they’re caused by accidents or by surgery- are unpredictable. Many variables can affect the severity of scarring, including the size and depth of the wound, the blood supply to the area, the thickness and color of your skin, and the direction of the scar. While no scar can be removed completely, plastic surgeons can often improve the appearance of a scar, making it less obvious through the injection or application of certain steroid medications or through surgical procedures known as scar revisions.

Skin Grafting and Flap Surgery

Skin grafts and flaps are more serious than other forms of scar surgery. They’re more likely to be performed in a hospital as inpatient procedures, using general anesthesia. The treated area may take several weeks or months to heal, and a support garment or bandage may be necessary for up to a year.

Grafting involves the transfer of skin from a healthy part of the body (the donor site) to cover the injured area. The graft is said to “take”when new blood vessels and scar tissue form in the injured area. While most grafts from a person’s own skin are successful, sometimes the graft doesn’t take. In addition, all grafts leave some scarring at the donor and recipient sites.

Flap surgery is a complex procedure in which skin, along with the underlying fat, blood vessels, and sometimes the muscle, is moved from a healthy part of the body to the injured site.

Skin grafting and flap surgery can greatly improve the function of a scarred area. The cosmetic results may be less satisfactory since the transferred skin may not precisely match the color and texture of the surrounding skin. In general, flap surgery produces better cosmetic results than skin grafts.