What Causes Scar Tissue?
The scar tissue is the body’s normal method of healing after an injury. When there is an injury or cut due to surgery, new cells are brought to the site to help in the recovery process. Some of these are collagen cells. However, the body doesn’t know how to arrange these new collagen cells properly, which causes them to ball up and clump. This is what leads to the development of a visible scar. The scar may heal on its own, but it can take a long time, especially for deeper, more severe scars.
Scar tissue can also develop inside the body. The heart muscle can develop scar tissue after a heart attack, while your leg muscles may develop scar tissue after surgery like revascularization. Scar tissue may develop due to wounds, burns, or other skin conditions.
Arteries can sustain scars, too. Healthy arteries have a smooth lining that prevents blood from clotting. Over time, conditions such as high blood pressure can create microscopic tears on the inner walls of your arteries, resulting in rough, lumpy scar tissue. The scarred surface makes it easy for plaque to stick to the inside of artery walls and build up. This narrows the artery and restricts blood flow.
If you are concerned with how scar tissue in your arteries and other areas of your body can affect peripheral artery disease (PAD) treatment, schedule a consultation with one of our skilled vascular specialists at USA Vascular Centers. Our doctors can help answer your questions and provide you with a personalized treatment plan.
The Stages of Scar Healing
Scar tissue differs from the normal connective tissue as it is immature, dynamic, and pliable, while connective tissue is mature and stable. Scar tissue develops in the following four phases:
- Inflammatory: Blood clotting occurs at this phase, usually lasting between 24 to 48 hours.
- Granulation: There is an increase in blood flow directed to the damaged tissue.
- Fibroblastic: Collagen is laid down at an accelerated rate, a process that makes tissue elongation easier.
- Maturation: Collagen matures, solidifies, and shrinks during this phase.
Collagen is a strong substance present in muscles, tendons, ligaments, skin, and bones. It can resist stretching and pulling without tearing or breaking.
Scar tissue is the end product of the wound-healing process. However, once scarred, this tissue lacks the strength and elasticity of normal healthy tissue. It may also cause pain and an overall unpleasant appearance.
While scars can and usually do fade, they never completely go away.
Reasons Why a Scar is Not Healing Well
It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations after you have sustained a wound, whether it’s large or small. How you care for a wound can affect the size and appearance of your scar.
Scar tissue will develop a couple of weeks after a wound occurs. However, if you notice any of these symptoms, you may need to seek medical attention:
- The wound is draining pus instead of the normal, clear fluid that sometimes leaks out.
- You notice an unpleasant smell coming from the area.
- The scar or the skin around it feels painful and warm to the touch.
- The skin at the edges of the wound gets darker in color.
- You develop a fever.
If you see that scars on your legs or feet are not healing well, you may be experiencing one of the common signs of peripheral artery disease. Caused by narrowed arteries due to plaque buildup (atherosclerosis), the restricted blood flow typical of PAD means that your legs and feet aren’t getting the blood they need to heal wounds efficiently .
Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)
PAD is a common circulatory problem where narrowed arteries obstruct blood flow in the legs. Narrowing of the arteries happens due to the buildup of plaque.
PAD often causes painful symptoms that can make it painful to walk (claudication). Symptoms of claudication include muscle pain or cramping when walking. In patients with intermittent claudication, the arteries cannot meet the increased demand of blood and oxygen during exercise. The location of the pain depends upon the location of the blockage. Calf pain is the most common location.
Other symptoms of PAD include:
- Leg numbness or weakness
- Sores on leg or feet that do not heal
- Change in leg color
- Hair loss over the top of the feet
- Weakened or absent pulse in legs
- Thickening of toenails
- Painful ulcers in the feet
- Erectile dysfunction in men
No Scar Tissue with Non-Surgical Procedures
At the USA Vascular Centers, we provide treatment for PAD through the use of minimally invasive procedures using advanced imaging technology. All our procedures involve a tiny incision and a very small catheter, so your chances of developing significant scar tissue are low and you won’t require stitches or general anesthesia. Our treatments occur in our accredited, state-of-the-art outpatient settings and are performed by one of our renowned vascular specialists.
Our minimally invasive PAD treatments are usually accomplished within a couple of hours, and you will most likely be discharged on the same day of your procedure. The recovery time is fast, and you should be able to do your normal activities within a week of being discharged.