New study highlights the link between scars and body image

Published 17th May 2024 by PB Admin

A study recently conducted at Great Ormond Street Hospital, in collaboration with the University of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Kids and University College London has been presented to the British Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Reconstructive Surgeons (BAPRAS). 

The results have provided significant insights into the assessment of scars from the perspective of children and young people, between 8 and 18 years old.

Led by Ms Patricia Neves, a plastic surgeon with extensive expertise in scar management, the research aimed to determine the validity of ‘SCAR-Q’, a patient-reported measurement for scars, and its association with body image perceptions, especially in younger patients.

The study, entitled Validating the SCAR-Q and Assessing the Relationship Between Body Image and the Experience of Scarring, was co-authored by Ms Whitney Quong, Ms Edel Buitleir, Ms Gaynor Osman, Ms Brigitte Harrison, and supervised by consultant plastic surgeon Mr Neil Bulstro.

The questionnaire was tested by providing patients with four questionnaires: the SCAR-Q, the Body Esteem Scale for Adolescents and Adults (BESAA), the Vancouver Scar Scale (VSS) and the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale (POSAS).

By providing patients with other validated questionnaires, researchers were able to test the validity of the SCAR-Q, finding it to be a valuable tool for understanding how patients feel about their scars. The questionnaire differs from others as it is entirely patient-reported and does not incorporate a medical or surgical assessment of the scar.

Ms Neves said, “The SCAR-Q questionnaire is of great value as it can be used both in research and clinical settings. In research it can help us try to discover a little more about psychological issues, such as the link between mental health and scarring. The study proved it to be a valid scale, and so we are now able to use it for other research studies. In clinical settings, it allows us to directly assess if our treatment is effective for patients.”

Consultant plastic surgeon and BAPRAS president Mani Ragbir says, "This study is an exciting development in patient-centred scar management. It marks a significant step forward in understanding the experiences of people living with scars, particularly children and young people, providing valuable insights into body image perception and overall wellbeing. This allows us, as surgeons, to create a holistic treatment plan that not only considers a medical or surgical assessment, but that also incorporates patient experience.”

PB Admin

PB Admin

Published 17th May 2024

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