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Living with a scar 

By Naresh Lane Subject Specialist, Health 

70% of British people have visible skin conditions or scars that affect their confidence 

A scar can show the life experience a person has been through, whether it be a caesarean section, a heart transplant, burns, self-harm or a mastectomy.  

Some people can find it very difficult to live with an altered body image and changes to their personal appearance. A scar can impact personal and professional relationships and achievements, and leave a person with low self-esteem and lacking in confidence. 

When working in health and educational settings, professionals need to be aware if someone has a scar, this may be having an impact on them and their achievements. 

Some scars may be caused through abusive relationships, and may be a safeguarding issue which needs specialist support from the relevant organisations through the appropriate referral. 

Surgeons will often say the first question patients ask them is: “Will I have a scar?” 

A scar is seen as something ugly, and something that should be hidden or erased. Working in the health service, we need to consider patients’ privacy and dignity, and assess their emotional and physical needs and progress post-operation. We must also understand that the patient is going through changes in altered body image.  

Healthcare professionals need to acknowledge scars. A scar could show a person has previously self-harmed or is still self-harming. This could be an opportunity to offer support, or at least an opportunity for the person to talk to someone. 

Living with a scar should not be a negative experience but seen as a positive, as it shows the life journey someone has been through and survived.    

NCFE’s health qualifications give learners the opportunity to learn about supporting individuals in such situations, developing effective communication skills, and recognising individuality and embracing people for their differences – such as a person who may be living with a scar.