Until recently, research on the scarring of skin after surgery has neglected to address a major factor in the healing process: movement. Scars tend to be most severe on parts of the body where there is frequent strain on the tissue, but scientists didn’t know why.
Victor W. Wong, M.D., a general surgery resident at OHSU, in collaboration with Anna Kuang, M.D., head of pediatic plastic and craniofacial surgery, and others at Stanford University, has recently published a paper in Nature Medicine that describes what’s happening at a molecular level when a wound is subjected to movement or tension. The researchers found that a protein, focal adhesion kinase (FAK), is expressed when wounds are exposed to physical force. When FAK is blocked, scarring is significantly reduced. Dr. Wong believes this discovery may be useful in creating new devices or medications to reduce tension-induced scarring.