Latest in scar therapy… a little help from a surprising little creature

All cosmetic surgery procedures come with the risk of scarring after the procedure has taken place. This is because these operations involve making incisions and working beneath the skin to tighten, enlarge, decrease or remodel areas of the body.

Over time, surgeons have become increasingly skilled at making and repairing incisions in a way that means that they heal quickly with minimal scarring. Despite these advances in scar management, scientists are always looking for ways to push the boundaries even further, making practices and procedures even better for the patient to recover from.

Ways of dealing with wounds

During wartime, superglue was found to be an effective means of sealing a cut, and was used particularly prevalently during the Vietnam War as a clever medical trick while soldiers were out in the field. If used correctly, the superglue can bond a wound seamlessly and the resulting scar is minimal. It does, however, come with risks such as infection and the challenge of trying to precisely glue a wound with one of the stickiest and fastest setting components known to man. Although it can work, it is widely agreed that it is much better to leave it to the professionals.

Professionals such as cosmetic surgeons can use a variety of scar management techniques to seal a wound or incision after an operation, and these range from convention stitches to legitimate medical glue. There is a new discovery that has recently been announced though, that could make gluing of wounds even more effective.

mussel secretion for scar managementAccording to a report published recently by the New Scientist, it has been discovered that under-water mussels secrete a liquid that shares the same properties as powerful glue, and scientists believe that this could be used as a way of repairing wounds and incisions with minimal scarring.

What causes scars to look unsightly in the first place?

The reason that scars can look unsightly is because of the way scar tissue forms. The skin is made up of many layers of a substance called collagen, which criss-crosses neatly to create the different layers of the skin. When this is broken, the collagen tries to repair the damage, but instead of being able to fuse together neatly, the result if often a messy, tangled mass of collagen strands, rushing to try and fix the problem. The result is that scars can look and feel raised and bumpy.

According to this new study into mussel secretions, the use of this substance as a glue helps the skin to “promote normal collagen growth because negative charges on the decorin fragments hold the fibres apart. In doing so, the fibres are more easily able to weave in and out between each other instead of sticking together randomly”.

Cosmetic surgeon Mr Alan Park is highly experienced and skilled in producing the least visible scarring and managing how the scar is progressing is an integral part of his aftercare programme.