Health: Patch Up That Scar

Unless you're Harry Potter, friends probably don't admire your scars. So make them go away. Over-the-counter "scar sheets" from brands like Neosporin and Band-Aid are proliferating. But do they really work? Most of the adhesive patches contain silicone, which studies show can soften scars (the sheets aren't meant to be used on open wounds, so let them heal first). Two caveats: the patches are more effective on raised scars. And they must be worn for at least eight weeks. Of the topical gels that claim to reduce scarring, Mederma "probably works best," says Dr. Hayes Gladstone, director of the division of dermasurgery at Stanford University. Experts advise you to keep a new scar in the shade; apply sunscreen and a moisturizer, or vitamin E, regularly. If it doesn't improve after several months, a dermatologist may be able to flatten and fade it with a laser. That way you won't be scarred for life.