One of the side effects of plasma donating long term is plasma donation scars. After plasma donating long term, you'll get an ugly plasma scar like the mark above. The plasma scar is red or clear in color. The scar may also form a hole to match the injection site. As some plasma donors joke, a scar at the injection site is "a good target for doctors to place the needle."
Why Plasma Injection Sites Form Scars
The Phlebotomist puts in the needle, and your plasma machine starts pumping. Eventually, your plasma donation will be stored, and turned into medicines such as flu shots, immune boosters and burn medications.
But at the needle mark, your skin is irritated. Scars form from improper skin irritation during tissue healing. Your plasma injection site is healing, and you irritate it again by donating blood plasma. Over long term donation, your arm skin forms a scar.
The good news is plasma scars, like all scars, lack nerve tissue. Donate plasma long enough to get scars, and the needle injection will stop hurting (due to less nerve tissue present.) The arm scar is also a road map to place the needle for Phlebotomists in training.
Will I Get Scarred Veins From Donating Plasma?
Horror stories depict junkies getting vein scars and ruining their health. Scarred veins cause blood irregularity and deadly blood clots. Don't worry! Blood plasma donation isn't like being a junkie. Plasma donors are legally allowed two donations a week. It takes multiple needle injections a day to get scarred veins, or blood clots. Two donations a week isn't enough to get scarred veins like our junkie friends.
How to Prevent Plasma Donation Scars
Long term donors have scars - it's an unavoidable side effect of donation. You can prevent arm scars, though. Here's how to prevent plasma scars:
- Switch arms every donation. Some plasma donors are righties, some are lefties. Be an ambidextrous donor! Switching arms (being ambidextrous) prevents scars by allowing your arm skin to heal.
- Take vitamin E cream with you. Apply vitamin E cream before and after donation. Vitamin E is essential to skin healing, so rub on some vitamin E to prevent scars.
- Drink gallons of water! Okay, not that much. But drinks lots of water. Skin tissues need water to heal. Being properly hydrated leads to easier skin healing and less plasma scar formation. Not to mention, your donation time goes quicker when you're properly hydrated, so drink your water.
How to Remove Plasma Donation Scars
First, try vitamin E cream. Vitamin E cream not only prevents plasma scars - it can also get rid of scars. Vitamin E is essential to healthy skin cells and tissues, so rub vitamin E cream on the scar twice daily to diminish the appearance. Vitamin E comes in an over the counter cream form at the drug store. Vitamin E oils and liquids are also available over the counter.
Next, add to a bath some some Epsom Salts. Epsom salts aren't just healthy for plants - they help with scars too. Epsom salts rejuvenate skin and diminish the appearance of injection scars. Epsom salts relax the skin and provide powerful antioxidants which, when added to a bath, are the key to repairing scarred or damaged skin.
Also try Mederma scar removal cream for damaged skin. Vitamin E oil is the first choice in plasma scar removal, since it is cheap and available over the counter. However, cheap Vitamin E oil or cream works best with new scars. New scars are easier to remove than old scars which have been "set." If you have old scars from plasma donation, bring out the big (expensive) guns and go for Mederma.
Finally, stop donating blood plasma, if plasma donation scars bother you. You may have scars years after stopping plasma donation - it's okay. It can takes years after stopping plasma donation for scars to heal. These ugly marks will heal after months or years depending on the suppleness of your own skin. The best way to remove plasma donation scars is to forgo the $60 and stop plasma donating twice a week.