What Do You Recommend For My Cheek Scar?

Q: I am writing to you because I have a very troublesome scar on one of my cheeks.  The scar has been there for a long time since I was 5 years old. At that time I had some type of cyst removed which left a bad scar. It has bothered me for over 20 years and has very negatively affected how I see myself.  I have tried the best that laser resurfacing (Fraxel) has to offer as well as Botox and filler injections, all with no visible improvement. I have paid good money for these treatments and I was really disappointed to see that they did not make a difference. What do you recommend?

A: Your question has me at a disadvantage as I can not see your facial scar. Having seen and operated on children for facial nevi and other tumors, however, it is like that your scar is plagued by multiple adverse scar factors including being wide, is deeper or more depressed than the surrounding skin, and is positioned over a prominent facial area. I can say that with some confidence because you were still young when the scar occurred and your face has grown much since that time.  Facial growth always causes scars to stretch and be thinner than the surrounding skin.

The only hope of any improvement is actual scar excision. Cutting all or part of the scar out and then re-closing it can narrow it. Often this takes two stages to get the scar narrowed as much as possible. Thereafter laser resurfacing may be beneficial but may not be needed at all. When one considers serial scar revision, including healing and scar fading time, this is a process that easily can take a year or longer to get to where you want to be. A patient must be prepared to make such a time commitment. You are still young so such lengthy efforts will still have a long lifetime of benefits.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana