Background Abdominal scarring in patients with anorectal malformations (ARM) is a permanent visible sign of a chronic congenital condition. The study's aims were to assess the physical and psychosocial significance of abdominal scarring in ARM and to propose a scar treatment approach. Methods A patient- and observer reported cross-sectional study of ARM patients with previous colostomies surgically treated 1997-2015 with minimum 4 years' follow-up after stoma closure. A maximum of 3 patient-selected scars per patient were evaluated by a) the Patient and Observer Scar Assessment Scale (POSAS; 11= no symptoms, 110=worst symptoms), b) pictorial scar treatment assessment by a plastic surgeon, c) questionnaire evaluation of the scarring's psychosocial aspects, bowel- and urinary function and quality of life. Descriptive statistics were presented in median (range) and percent (%), and Pearson's r was used to evaluate linear correlations. Ethical approval and written consents were obtained. Results Twenty-seven patients (48% females) aged 12 (5-24) years old were included. Two (1-3) scars were evaluated per patient with a median POSAS score of 44 (15-78). Six patients (22%) reported scar pain, five (19%) scar pruritus and nine (33%) affected behavior, e.g. always wearing full-covered clothing in public places. Higher (worse) POSAS score and increasing age correlated (r = 0.40, p = 0.04). According to the plastic surgeon's assessment, 21 patients (78%) were suitable candidates for surgical scar treatment, among whom eight patients (30%) requested scar treatment. Conclusions Postoperative abdominal scarring should require attention in clinical ARM follow-up programs including potential corrective plastic surgery for selected patients.
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