When you get injured, your body responds by repairing the damaged tissue, which is known as scar tissue. It can develop as a result of injury, surgery or acne. It’s a thick fibrous tissue which is often formed after surgery or as a result of a disease. When scar tissue is formed around a stitch from surgery, it is known as suture granuloma and feels like a lump.

Healthy arteries have a smooth lining that prevents blood from clotting. However, if you have diabetes, high blood pressure, are overweight, or have high cholesterol, you may have narrowed  arteries due to a build up of arterial plaque. Arterial plaque is made up of excessive fat, cholesterol and other substances. 

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 which 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 it’s own, but it would take a very long period of 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 also develop scar tissue after surgery like revascularization. Scar tissue may develop due to wounds, burns, or other skin conditions. Scars can also form due to  specific conditions, such as cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is late-stage scarring of the liver due to liver injury, disease, or other conditions. 

A hypertrophic scar is a common type of scar tissue that fades away over time. In the early stages, scar tissue may not be painful as the nerves in the area may have been destroyed but it may become painful as nerves regenerate over a period of time.

Organ damage due to scar tissue may cause you painful symptoms years later. For example, scar tissue in the lungs due to pulmonary fibroids may cause coughing and shortness of breath, while scar tissue due to liver fibroids may cause jaundice or bruising of the skin.

Progression of Scar Tissue 

Scar tissue differs from the normal connective tissue in its mechanism 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 that usually lasts between 24 to 48 hours. 
  • Granulation: There is an increase in the relative vascularity of the tissue. 
  • Fibroblastic: Collagen is laid down at an accelerated rate that makes tissue elongation easier. 
  • Maturation: Collagen matures, solidifies, and shrinks during this phase. 

Collagen is a strong substance present in muscles, tendons and 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 and other important functions like oil secretion. It may also cause pain and an overall unpleasant appearance. 

Scar Tissue Risk Factors

People at high risk of abnormal scarring, such as those living with high blood pressure or acne, should avoid elective surgeries and treat acne to stop the cycle of scarring. 

Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

PAD is a common circulatory problem where narrowed arteries obstruct blood flow in the legs. Narrowing of arteries happens due to the buildup of arterial plaque, also known as atherosclerosis. 

PAD often causes painful symptoms that can make it difficult to walk. Symptoms of claudication include muscle pain or cramping when walking. In patients with intermittent claudication, the arteries aren’t able to meet the increased demand of blood and oxygen during exercise. The location of 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 
  • Leg numbness or weakness
  • Hair loss over the top of the feet 
  • Weak or no pulse in legs 
  • Thickening of toenails
  • Painful ulcers in the feet 
  • Erectile dysfunction in men 

Smokers, obese and overweight individuals, those having high blood pressure and high cholesterol, and age above 50 are among the high-risk individuals for peripheral artery disease.

Although the discussion on atherosclerosis is usually centered around the heart, it may cause symptoms in the heart and brain, and also gangrene. 

Common PAD Complications Include: 

Critical limb ischemia: The condition occurs when there is tissue death or gangrene due to the progression of infection due to open sores that don’t heal easily. Sometimes, the affected portion of the leg may need to be surgically removed to save the remaining part and other body organs from the spread of infection. 

Heart attack and stroke: If atherosclerosis occurs in the arteries leading to your heart or brain, it may significantly reduce blood supply to these organs. A heart attack can occur if blood supply is reduced to the heart as it will have to work harder to get its needed supply of blood, while a stroke may happen if blood supply to the brain is reduced. 

Stenosis: There is a blockage in the artery supplying blood to kidneys that may affect your ability to urinate properly.

Rest pain: It occurs when artery blockage is so severe that it restricts blood and oxygen supply to the legs even at rest. The pain usually occurs at night when the person is lying down with face up. 

As atherosclerosis can affect arteries throughout the body, therefore, heart patients are likely to develop peripheral artery disease, and vice-versa.

No Scar Tissue with Non-Surgical Procedures

At the USA Vascular Centers, we provide treatment for PAD through the use of a minimally-invasive procedure known as stent-angioplasty. Since the procedure is done through non-surgical procedure, your chances of developing scar tissue are eliminated with our non-surgical procedure  The procedure takes place in an outpatient setting, by an expert interventional radiologist (IR) An IR is a specialist who is exclusively trained at minimally-invasive treatment methods.

Our non-invasive PAD treatment is usually accomplished within a couple of hours and you will most likely be discharged on the same day of your procedure. There is hardly any blood loss during this non-surgical procedure. The recovery time is fast, and you should be able to do your normal activities within a week of being discharged.

At USA Vascular Centers, we have clinics at locations nationwide. If you want to schedule a consultation with one of our PAD doctors, please call us at 888-773-2193.

Schedule an Appointment