Plastic Surgery for Scarring

Image by Owen Beard from Unsplash

Image by Owen Beard from Unsplash

I wanted to share a topic today that has always vividly captured my interest, but I was always nervous about going under the knife. Recently, however, I have been more affected than usual about my scarring. I’m not sure why - perhaps it’s because as I’ve gotten older, I’m noticing people constantly looking at my scars when they talk to me, especially when they first meet me. It makes me feel extremely self-conscious to the point where I have bad social anxiety and I feel like I can’t act like a normal person when I’m in a situation outside of my comfort zone. I always use my hair to cover up that side of my face or turn towards the person using my right side without the scarring and I rarely speak up so that I don’t draw attention to myself.

I’ve also been waiting for better technology and better options when it comes to scar revision. I’ve tried microneedling in the past for 2-3 sessions, but I found it expensive without giving me the results I wanted. And while I realize my expectations are too high (scar basically gone), I find myself still striving for good results when I’m spending money and time going to see plastic surgeons. So for the past week or two, I’ve been going to get consultations and I wanted to write about my journey.


It started with consultations with a plastic surgeon at UCLA since I thought that was the best and safest place to begin. I made an appointment with Dr. Vardanian and he was very nice, although not great about following up. It didn’t seem like he could do much with my scars, but he suggested laser, which could bring up pigments or cause skin darkening because of my olive skin tone and Asian ethnicity. We did end up trying a test spot on my temple and farthest end of the scar and it seemed to create good results. However, when I went back after a few months (I was busy during the holiday season), he said it didn’t cause any darkening and “if I felt like it helped, then he could perform the laser.” To me, this answer didn’t instill much confidence and he even said it wouldn’t do much for the area that bothers me the most, which is right under my eye. The doctor did suggest I go see his colleague, Dr. Justine Lee, who could perform a canthopexy. After my consultation with her, I felt good about doing the canthopexy, but it seems too simple of a surgery. She would use a stitch to bring up the part of my eye that droops. I think this would improve the appearance slightly, but not to the extent where I would be happy with my results. Dr. Vardanian would be able to perform laser at the same time as the canthopexy, but I’m not sure that it would result in big changes that I would be satisfied with.


I also went to see Dr. Urmen Desai in Beverly Hills since he has great reviews on Real Self. I thought he was very nice, but he quietly explained that he thought I should see a dermatologist for something called PRP Microneedling, which after I looked it up, is Kim Kardashian’s Vampire Facial. He had used it on his own acne scars and said it helped a lot. But after each question regarding using filler for depressed scars and laser to smooth the scars over, he demurred and said a dermatologist would know better and the type of scar revision that he does is for thick, ropy scars like keloids.


Undeterred, I went to see Dr Michael Arnstein, who I was referred to by a co-worker. While I was slightly put off by his initial manner (he seemed very abrupt and spoke without delicacy about my scars), I loved his nurse and how she took an hour to answer all my questions and confirmed that he was a great doctor. I think after some thought, I was put off by how straightforward he was about describing my scar, but he was more no-nonsense than anything. The surgery he would perform is to cut out the scars and suture it back up into a smaller, neater scar that I would then use Embrace tape or Biocorneum (silicon gel) to heal. While the scar wouldn’t completely disappear, it would be much less noticeable. I am considering his surgery the most as it seems to be the type of surgery that would create the best results, but I’m nervous about it becoming botched.


I needed to see a dermatologist regarding my very itchy, irritated and dry skin around my eyes anyway, so I decided to go to El Segundo Dermatology since they are covered by my insurance. I absolutely loved my experience with them and would go back for any skin needs I had and I felt so comfortable that I decided to ask my dermatologist, who was a Physician’s Assistant, if there was anything they could do for scarring. She first said that the original doctor did an excellent job, but that this was more of a plastic surgery concern than dermatology concern. It confirmed my original instincts to go with a plastic surgeon and not a dermatologist and helped me settle the issue of finding which type of doctor to see.


My last consultation will be with Dr. John Reinisch, who actually did my original surgery for the removal of my congenital nevus (born with a large birthmark). I figured that he may be able to tell me definitively the best option for scar revision given that he performed the surgery and is a plastic surgeon himself. His first available appointment is this month and he has a $300 consultation fee, but I decided to take the plunge and make the appointment with him. I’m hoping he will be able to help, but I will check back in after my consultation and let you all know my decision!