November 1, 2019

Improving the Appearance of Scars: Silicone Sheets or Gel?

What are scars?

Scars are a common problem following injury and can sometimes impact a person’s quality of life. They can vary in shape (pitted, flat or raised), size (small to large) and colour (hypopigmented,  red or darkened) and they may also feel painful, itchy, or hypersensitive. Contracture scars, which often happen after burns, can cause restrictions in movement. The most extreme type of scarring is keloid formation. Keloids are formed when the scar tissue extends beyond the margin of the original wound. Hypertrophic scars look similar to a keloid, but they do not extend beyond the margin of the original wound.  Hypertrophic scars typically develop on parts of the body which are under tension, such as shoulders, ankles, knees, and the neck.

Silicone Sheets or Silicone Gel?

Silicone sheets and self-drying spreadable silicone gels are safe and effective ways for improving the appearance of scars. They have been used to soften and flatten raised scars as well as to lighten and fade their appearance.

Silicone Sheets

Silicone sheets (e.g. ScarFX) are solid, yet soft and flexible. One side contains an adhesive that allows the sheet to be easily attached to the skin. The material is capable of allowing moisture and oxygen to pass through. Silicone sheets need to be measured to fit over the size of the scar. One advantage of silicone gel sheets is that they can cover a large area at once, making them ideal for large scars, burn scars, major abrasions such as road rash, and scars that do not form a straight line. However, they may not be suitable for mobile parts of the body as it may lose contact with the skin. In addition, most patients prefer not to put a sheet on visible areas of the body, such as the face, neck, or hands.

Silicone Gel

In contrast, silicone gels (e.g. DermaScar®) are easy to apply on any irregular skin surfaces, including the face and mobile parts (joints and flexures) and any size of scar. It does not require any special fixation and is not visible as it is completely transparent. However, gels may be more time consuming to apply compared with sheets, as one needs to wait for the gel to dry. The gel also has to be applied two times daily, and reapplied after bathing, swimming, or exercising.

Though there is no way to completely remove scars, the appearance and side effects (e.g. itching, swelling) of a scar may be improved significantly. Effects are usually seen after 8-12 weeks, so it is important to be persistent! In addition, the likelihood of developing abnormal scars can be reduced if treatment starts shortly after wound closure.

Tags: Scars, Silicone Sheet, Silicone Gel