Excessive scars form as a result of aberrations of physiologic wound healing and may arise following any insult to the deep dermis. By causing pain, pruritus and contractures, excessive scarring significantly affects the patient's quality of life, both physically and psychologically. Multiple studies on hypertrophic scar and keloid formation have been conducted for decades and have led to a plethora of therapeutic strategies to prevent or attenuate excessive scar formation. However, most therapeutic approaches remain clinically unsatisfactory, most likely owing to poor understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying the processes of scarring and wound contraction. In this review we summarize the current understanding of the pathophysiology underlying keloid and hypertrophic scar formation and discuss established treatments and novel therapeutic strategies.