Once you have decided to have a plastic surgery procedure, the natural question is: “what can I do to minimize scarring?” There are many answers to that question but, first, let’s review the factors that determine the fate of a scar.
- DNA: your genetics play a factor in what kind of scar you make.
- Tension: a wound that has undue tension is more likely to thicken.
- Infection: if a wound gets infected during the healing process, the scar is likely to suffer
- Nutrition: proper wound healing demands a good diet and nutritional state.
- Technique: plastic surgeons are taught the principles of meticulous closure to minimize long-term scarring.
These are only a few of the factors that determine the quality of a final scar. What can you do to improve your chances of an excellent scar?
- After surgery, follow instructions such as rest, elevation of the wound, and compression.
- Once the wound is healed there are scar treatments specifically designed to minimize the appearance of a scar. In the past, patients have applied pure Vitamin E or essential oils directly on the scar. Our experience has been that these two methods can lead to redness and irritation and we do not recommend them. Instead, specially formulated scar solutions like BioCorneum, Kelo-Cote, ScarFade and many similar products can be applied to the scar on a daily basis during the maturation process.
- Silicone strips or silicone sheets can also be obtained over the counter and, in addition to being medicated, they have the added advantage that they apply pressure to the wound. Pressure has been shown to help flatten scars.
- A newer form therapy involves a form of specially engineered silicone sheet called Embrace. Embrace provides tension relief on the newly formed scar to prevent it from widening and thickening.
- If a scar fails all of the above and becomes thick, there are possible treatments such as laser therapy and steroid injections that you may want to discuss with your plastic surgeon.
In general, it is best to prevent a scar than to treat an established one, so make sure to follow all your postoperative instructions and begin scar treatments as soon as your plastic surgeon allows it. So congratulations on choosing a plastic surgical procedure. If you take care of the scar in the early stages, a much finer scar should be the end result.