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Healing & Scars

July 30, 2008

A listener asks why some cuts form scars and others don’t.


How stress can lead to scars…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Barbara Adams of Gainesville, Florida, wrote to ask why some cuts heal with hardly a trace and others form scars. For an answer, we spoke to Geoffrey Gurtner, associate professor of surgery at the Stanford University Medical Center. He says all cuts that are deep enough produce some scar tissue. But some wounds produce more because of bacterial infection, inflammation, or mechanical stress on the skin or underlying muscle.

GEOFFREY GURTNER (Stanford University Medical Center):
As a surgeon, I know that if I close a wound under a lot of tension, that’s going to heal with a lot of fibrosis – a bad scar.

Gurtner says healing differs greatly depending on the person and where the wound is located on the body. But keeping a cut clean and seeking medical attention if it’s deep can help it to heal scar-free. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.