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What Is Scar Tissue?

The body is made up of tissues. When these tissues are damaged, the body will immediately try to heal itself and protect itself from infection. It does this by producing scar tissue—new fibers that form a strong shield or barrier against microorganisms. It can develop on the skin or in the internal organs—anywhere a person may have experienced an injury or a cut, or undergone surgery. Sometimes scar tissue will also develop on an organ that has been affected by disease (such as the marks left by chicken pox).

This tissue is thicker and rougher, as anyone who’s ever scratched a knee knows. It is often raised and bumpy, and tends to have less sensation. It also tends to be paler, due to the limited blood supply, and since the tissue is less flexible, movement and function are restricted too. Sometimes the body may produce too much scar tissue, leading to a very thick and bumpy “scab.”

Scar tissue serves its purpose, but does not work as well as normal and healthy tissue. For example, hair cannot grow here, and sweat glands may also be impaired or even totally destroyed. It does not offer the same protection against ultraviolet radiation.

There are different kinds of scar tissue. Hypertrophic scars are red lumps, but the surface area is identical, or sometimes smaller, within the confines of the original wound. Keloid scars, on the other hand, tend to grow and can be very difficult to hide—they are raised, and often large. They are quite similar to tumors but are benign in nature.

Scars can be removed surgically, but the procedure will leave another scar. Some creams can lighten scars.

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