How can I minimize surgical scars?
Postsurgical scars are always a consideration of patients – and their surgeons. Every patient wants an ideal scar after surgery – and an ideal one is one that has healed perfectly and is undetectable.
After the body receives a wound from trauma or an incision, it automatically begins the healing process with inflammation. Next the inflammation leads to the removal of the inflammation and cells proliferate. Finally they remodel themselves bringing new gorgeous skin. During the later two phases of the process, stem cells activated by growth factors replace the cells that need repair and/or replacement.
But sometimes things go wrong in the process and the scar doesn’t heal exactly right. It could be that abnormal blood sugar levels found in diabetes affect the healing. Or it could be that medications you are on affect the healing. For example, corticosteroids decrease the inflammatory response of the body and interfere with healing while increasing the risk of infection.
Cigarette smoking is a known disrupter of healing after surgery. This is why surgeons ask their patients to stop smoking for at least one month prior to surgery and at least one month after the surgery.
When things go wrong during scar formation, that’s when you may need scar minimization techniques. These techniques can be done around the same time of surgery.
Many patients will begin using over-the-counter topical products, but these will rarely show any significant benefits in improving the final scar.
Techniques That'll Minimize Scars, Plus Time Frames of When They're Used Post-Surgery
• Lasers – 6 weeks
• Antibiotic ointment – after surgery for 1-3 weeks.
• Petroleum jelly – after surgery for 1-3 weeks.
• Pressure dressings – after surgery for greater than six months.
• Paper tape – after surgery for 6 weeks and longer.
• Silicone gel sheets – post-surgery for 3-6 months.
• Scar massage – three weeks after surgery done for 6 weeks or greater.
• Stem cells – during surgery.
• Dermabrasion – 2-3 months post-surgery for three months.
• High doses of vitamin A (25,000 IU) – post-surgery for 3-10 days.
• Hyperbaric oxygen – post-surgery for 1-3 weeks.
Always ask your plastic surgeon which techniques they will use during or after your surgery so that your scar minimization results are optimum.
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Written by Dr. Donna Schwontkowski
Dr. Donna Schwontkowski is a retired chiropractor with a master's and bachelor's in nutrition and master's in herbology. She's been an expert on anti-aging, beauty and natural healing for over 20 years and loves providing solutions that quickly and painlessly reverse a beauty problem.Full Bio