Scars aren’t just physical marks. Trust me, they’re emotional reminders too. I have a few surgical scars on me, and just looking at them sometimes is good enough to bring me to tears, as their appearances reminded me of what I went through to get them. (Note: They’re surgical scars that I got during my cancer treatment.)
While people console me by telling me that these are my “battle scars” and that I should be proud of them, honestly, I prefer to remember these battles in my heart, and not on my skin.
I’ve been on the lookout for scar diminishing solutions, and it happened that a few of them were sent my way. Because of my emotional attachment to this task, I took almost three months to properly and carefully test each of them out.
1. Mederma Proactive Gel
How to use: Apply it on scar twice daily and as soon as the wound closes.
How it works: This product promises to diminish the appearance of scars using three approaches: softening (scar tissue), smoothening (skin and promote healing) and replenishing (by moisturising skin). Its key ingredient is Cepalin (or Onion extract), which is known for its anti-inflammatory and softening benefit.
Does it work: Touted as the No. 1 doctor-recommended scar management brand in the USA, I was very excited to try it on one of my most stubborn and longest scar – a three-centimetre one that’s at my chest, from a biopsy surgery. Instead of using it twice daily, I usually only remember to apply it every night before I sleep.
At the start of the usage, I notice that my scar starts to feel a little itchy in the morning, although the formula promises to reduce itching. It was also rather peculiar since this isn’t a new scar and I haven’t felt any irritation to it for a long time.
The itch went off after a few more days. I noticed after persistent usage of two months that the scar was fading, and it had become significantly softer, smoother, and is “flatter” (doesn’t protrude as much). While the scar is still visible and hasn’t miraculously disappeared after two months, I am still quite pleased with the result. It has faded to the extent that I feel less self-conscious about wearing tank tops that reveal the scar. I am going to continue using it and hopefully, the result will persist.
It retails at SGD29.80 (20g) at all Guardian, Unity, and selected Watsons stores. It also has a 50g pack, retailing at SGD59.80 that is only available at Guardian stores and you can check here, where they sometimes have discounts.
How to use: Bio‑Oil is to be massaged in a circular motion into the scar, twice daily, for a minimum of three months. On new scars, Bio‑Oil should be applied only once the wound has healed, and should not be used on broken skin.
How it works: Formulated with plant extracts and vitamins suspended in an oil base, Bio-oil’s key ingredient is the PurCellin Oil, which makes the consistency of the formula light and non-greasy, and also helps retain the goodness of the product so it is easily absorbed. On top of being a scar-management product, you can also use Bio-Oil for relieving stretch marks, and improving uneven skin tone, ageing skin, and dehydrated skin.
A few friends have good things to say about its ability to relieve stretch marks, but I haven’t heard any testimonials on scar management.
Does it work: Like I said, I’ve heard that Bio-Oil works very well in preventing and treating stretch marks. As for scars, I have used it many years ago on marks that were left behind on my legs from mosquito bites and it appeared to have helped lightened them.
However, this is the first time I’ve used it on surgical scars. I have three scars on my arm, left behind by having a PICC line inserted into me through my arm for almost six months, and they protrude a little and are quite dark. I applied Bio-Oil on the main scar, which is the location where the line entered my body.
After using Bio-Oil on the scar once a day before I sleep for two months, I notice that the scar look less dry and look more “faded”, such that I can no longer locate the exact opening where the line used to be at. However, the dark pigment that makes it look visible doesn’t seem to go down very much.
Bio-Oil retails at SGD15.50 (60ml), SGD25.90 (125ml), SGD35.90 (200ml) and is available at all leading pharmacies, personal care stores, selected hospitals and department stores.
3. Remescar Silicone Scar Stick
How to use: Pop up the cap and roll the product over the affected area. Apply it twice a day for at least two to three months.
How it works: The roll-on creates a transparent, thin film to cover the scar, to protect the area and to maintain its moisture balance. Beta-glucan in the formula also protects the scar from environmental damages, promotes wound healing and helps reduce skin thickening. It also has UV filters to protect the scar from the sun.
Does it work: Compared to a gel or oil, this is certainly a less messy formula. However, I am slightly concerned about the hygiene level of a roll-on, as compared to a tube of gel. I have used the product for a month on a scar caused by the stitches of the PICC line, and haven’t really seen much improvement.
However, I have this feeling that with its UV filters and non-invasive barrier function, it might be a much better product for using in the day to protect the scar. So what I will suggest is that you could use a lightening scar formula for nights, and then apply the Remescar stick in the day to protect the scar so it won’t darken further because of UV exposure.
Anyway, while this didn’t work for me, it may just work for you – what’s more it’s the most affordable option amongst the ones I’ve reviewed, so it might be worth a try. Remescar Silicone Scar Stick retails for SGD30 at Guardian, Watsons, Unity, and major pharmacies.
4. Dermatix Ultra Advanced Scar Formula
How to use: Apply a thin coat of the gel onto scar after it heals. Let it dry for four to five minutes, or remove the excess product. Use it for at least two months and continue as long as there are still benefits.
How it works: It uses silicone technology to help to reduce the appearance of scarring, especially for hypertrophic and keloid scars. It is also recommended for the treatment of scars resulting from trauma, burns and general surgical procedures.
Does it work: This was recommended by a friend who found it effective. Like the Mederma one, it comes in a gel form, and I applied it on the other scar caused by the stitching of the PICC line and have used it every night before I sleep for about two months. It seems to have yielded the best result of all the formulas. The scar has totally smoothened out, the pigment has also lightened significantly, such that I can barely see the scar now.
I can’t find any store listing on Dermatix’s website or Facebook page, however, I managed to find a listing on the Guardian website. This is how I know that the Dermatix Ultra Advanced Scar Formula is available at Guardian stores at SGD85. My friend bought it at a hospital and gifted it to me.
It may be a little on the pricey side, but given how my friend and I both find it super effective, it may be worth it to make an investment. Anyway, you can check here, where they offer it at a discount from time to time. For instance, at the time of writing, it is only retailing at SGD78.75.
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