About Scars and Scar Tissue
Scars form when wounds penetrate to the deeper, thicker layers of skin (dermis and hypodermis). The scar tissue – made of tough, fibrous cells called fibroblasts – will differ from the skin it replaced in appearance and quality. It won't be able to produce sweat or hair, and it will be more susceptible to sun damage. Scars are a natural part of the healing process. While not pretty, they keep our insides on the inside.
Smoking and Scars
Smoking decreases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which significantly slows healing. Furthermore, nicotine constricts blood vessels and thus reduces blood flow to the skin. No doctor worth her lab coat will allow you to undergo surgical scar removal of any kind until you quit, as it undermines effectiveness, complicates anesthesia, and increases the risk of infection. Don't fret. Research shows that your body will begin to heal normally in as little as four weeks after quitting.
Get Rid of Scars Naturally
Lemon Juice. Lemon juice is an age-old scar remedy. Lemon juice is citric acid (an alpha hydroxy acid) that exfoliates as well as many commercial products. It works by removing the upper, damaged layers of skin so newer, hopefully less scarred skin can take its place. It also helps to soften and lighten the tough fibroblasts that scars are made of.
Essential Oils. Lavender oil and helichrysum oil have both been used as natural scar treatments. Like most alternative medicines, support is anecdotal, but if you use either as a massage oil for your scar you'll certainly see some benefit. Linalool, the active ingredient in lavender oil, has a toxic effect on fibroblasts (the cells scars are made of) and literally causes them to die. Helichrysum oil, derived from helichrysum italicum, is obscenely expensive yet many aromathrerpists attest that it is the best natural scar treatment. It both stimulates regrowth of tissue and fades old scars. Vendors of such oils (natural healing or whole foods stores) will have recommendations for application.
Manuka Honey. Manuka Honey is a medicinal honey used to treat wounds and burns. In clinical studies it has been shown to reduce scarring and infection when used early to treat wounds. Honey may work to reduce old scars, as it has a high vitamin C content. Though more research is needed, stable forms of vitamin C may increase collagen production and smooth scars. This sounds like a messy scar treatment to me, but it could be made splendidly dirty if you get your partner involved.
Makeup (camouflage). There many great makeup tutorials on the web that focus on masking scars and blemishes. By hiding your scar (as opposed to removing it surgically) you reserve the right to use it when it's needed. Looking as though you're a barroom pugilist or enjoy the occasional knife fight may come in handy when discussing your point of view with your boss, spouse, neighbor...etc.