There are many factors that determine scar healing time. Scars form as part of the body's natural way of repairing injuries, burns and damaged skin. As a wound heals scar tissue fills in the damaged places. While a scar may look quite dramatic after it's first formed, over time its appearance, size and color naturally fade. On average, most scars can take 6 to 18 months to heal naturally. More severe scars can take years.
Location of the Scar
In many cases the location of a scar can affect its healing time. Areas of the skin that are being continuously irritated or used in regular activity may stretch and pull at the newly forming skin.
Size and Extent of the Scar
Certain types of scars heal differently over time than others. Contracture scars form when skin is burned. Typically they can be deep in the skin, causing it to tighten and make movement difficult. Skin with shallow contracture scarring will eventually stretch back over time. Hypertrophic scars are raised, red lines which may take months to fade. Keloid scars are often larger than the actual site of the wound. These thick and fleshy scars are formed as part of an overactive healing process. They do not heal well without treatment. Acne scars vary wildly. Shallow acne scars will fade naturally within a few months to a year, but deep or severe scarring will need treatment.
What You Can Do to Speed Healing Time
Without treatment scars will heal slowly, but for most types of scarring there are things you can do to help speed the process. Creams and gels, both over the counter and prescription can be used on most scars to aid the natural healing. Massage, used regularly for a few months can flatten some raised scars.
Severe scarring is best treated with the help of a professional. Contracture scars like those found on a burn victim can be treated with skin grafts. Hypertrophic scars can benefit from steroid injections to reduce inflammation and redness. Keloid scars can also be treated with steroid injections or with cryotherapy which uses liquid nitrogen to freeze and remove the raised scar tissue. Larger keloid scars can be treated through surgical removal. Acne scars can be treated with dermabrasion, laser resurfacing or punch grafts, a process in which uses small pieces of healthy skin fill in deep pitted scars.