How Does the Body Create Scar Tissue?

The body produces scar tissue as a biproduct of the healing process, particularly when too much collagen is created by healing cells or when it forms on the skin in uneven patterns. In particular, collagen that forms unevenly above and around the wound site often leaves raised, reddish or otherwise unsightly scars.

When the body experiences a trauma, especially an injury such as a cut or burn, it often summons healing cells to the site of the wound. These healing cells, called fibroblasts, coordinate to protect the susceptible area, either internal or external, and to cover it with a tight, formidable layer of collagen. This collagen is especially important in initially bridging any gap sustained with the wound and for subsequently contracting over time, permanently drawing that gap shut.

In ideal cases, the fibroblasts do not produce any more collagen than is needed, and lay it neatly without protruding beyond the wound, leaving a thin, pale result. However, when this goes awry, the excess masses are called keloid or hypertrophic scars. Both of these undesirable outcomes are more prevalent in younger people or those with darker complexions. Treatment of these scar types are diverse, with possible solutions including pressure dressings, lasers, cortisone shots and even surgery. Some facilities also offer silicone gel treatments, a technology that emerged in the 1980s.