Recovery – Scarring

Your recovery process will be the most important part of your journey and it is important that you ensure you give yourself the best chance of recovering well.  it is essential to follow a good diet and try to be as mobile as possible to prevent further complications such as blood clotting, cramp and making sure that the blood is oxygenated will improve healing. Quitting smoking will ensure that scarring will be reduced and can prevent the keloid  (raised scars which from on the skin)scarring which is common in people of Afro-Caribbean heritage. Below are a few tips to help you get the best recovery possible and maintain that process as you heal.

Whenever your skin sustains damage, there is a possibility of scarring occuring.  Regardless of how skilled your surgeon may be scarring will still form, although surgery performed by a less skilled surgeon may result in a greater degree of scarring, but in almost all cases the skill of the surgeon has very little effect on the amount of scarring that occurs.Your surgeon cannot control all the factors that determine how badly you will scar.

Risk Factors For Scarring:

  • Your Age: As you age the skin loses elasticity and becomes thinner as collagen (which makes the skin elastic) changes as we age, and the fat layer under the skin becomes thinner.  These changes, along with sun exposure, smoking, exposure to the environment and other lifestyle issues, means that skin does not heal as well or as quickly as we get older.
  • Your Race: Some races are more likely to scar than others. Black people are more likely to form hypertrophic and keloid scars, which are an overgrowth of scar tissue at the site of an injury. Fair skinned people may find that their scars are more obvious than they would be with a darker complexion.
  • Genetic (Inherited) Tendency To Scar: If your parents or siblings have a history of  scarring heavily, you will most likely do the same.
  • Size and Depth of Your Incision: A large incision is much more likely to leave a scar than a small incision. The deeper and longer the incision, the longer the healing process will take and the greater the opportunity for scarring. A larger incision may be exposed to more stress as you move, which can cause slower healing.
  • How Quickly Your Skin Heals: You may be one of the genetically blessed people who seem to heal magically, quickly and easily with minimal scarring, or you may be diabetic and your skin tends to heal slowly. How quickly you heal is a personal thing and can change with illness or injury.

Preventing scars involves concentrating on those factors of your health and lifestyle which you can control.  Following the instructions your surgeon gives you to the letter is a good way to help prevent scarring.

  • Smoking:  increases your risk for scars and can also slow your healing. Smoking is such a significant risk factor that many plastic surgeons will not operate on a patient if they does not quit smoking COMPLETELY for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery.
  • Drinking: Alcohol dehydrates both the body and skin, which decreases your overall health. While your wound is healing, avoid alcohol and focus on non-caffeinated drinks.
  • Nutrition: Eating a balanced diet which is high in protein will help you recover quickly. Protein makes up the building blocks of healing skin, so it is essential to provide your body with adequate protein (chicken, pork, fish, seafood, beef, dairy products) to allow your skin to heal. Soy products provide an excellent alternative as a lean protein source.
  • Hydration:Keeping hydrated is important to your healing process, in severe cases, this can cause electrolyte imbalances and heart issues. In less severe cases, you will feel thirsty and your overall health will be diminished. Staying well hydrated ( If you are well-hydrated, your urine will be almost colorless or light in color) will help keep your healing on track.
  • Your Weight: If you are overweight, you may be at greater risk for scarring.  The fat under your skin can work against your surgeons best efforts to close your incision seamlessly.
  • Prevent Infection: Good incision care, which includes preventing infection, is one of the best ways to prevent scarring after surgery.
6 Ways To Improve Healing and Reduce Scarring
  • Rest: If your doctor suggests that you rest for two weeks, don’t go back to work after one week of healing. Exhausting yourself will not help your wound heal and can slow your healing process.
  • Wound Care: Taking the steps recommended by your surgeon may be the  most important thing you can do to prevent scars. Taking measures to prevent infection, refraining from using ointments and remedies that are not prescribed, and other general incision care techniques such as keeping your wound clean and drying it properly are essential to healing without scars.
  • Identifying Infection: If your incision becomes infected, it is important that you can identify the signs of infection and seek help from your physician immediately. An infection can seriously impair healing and can contribute to scarring. Often when a wound is infected it will radiate a lot of heat and may also produce puss, if this occurs it is important to seek medical advice from your doctor or a member of your surgical team immediately.
  • Chronic Illness: Diabetes and many other illnesses can slow healing. For the best possible outcome, your illness should be as well-controlled as possible before surgery and during your recovery. If you suffer from a chronic illness it is important to discuss with your doctor how best to control your condition in order to maximise your healing.
  • Stress on Your Incision: Putting stress on your incision by lifting, bending or doing anything that stretches or puts tension on the incision should be avoided. This stress can cause tearing, delaying healing and often making the wound larger than it needs to be, which increases the size of your scar and puts you at risk of infection.
  • Exposure to Sunlight: Avoid having the sun on your incision whenever possible. If your scar is in place that is difficult to cover, such as your face, invest in a good sunscreen. Your surgeon can tell you when it is safe to apply ointments, but it is usually safe to do so when the sutures are removed or the incision has closed completely.
Surgical Scar Treatment
  • Silicone Wound Treatment: Silicone wound dressings feel similar to a thick plastic wrap. Silicone, however, does not adhere to your wound, allowing it to protect your incision from stress and contamination without damaging the skin when it is removed. Studies have shown that silicone can help reduce scarring, discuss silicone dressings with your surgeon prior to your procedure, as the surgeon will need to apply this type of bandage.
  • Incision Placement: In some surgeries, the placement of the incision is not absolute. You may be able to talk to your surgeon about where the incision is placed to either hide or help minimize scars. In some surgeries they will cut across the bikini line (transverse) or horizontally which is harder to conceal.
  • Prescription Medications: If you have a tendency to scar badly, your surgeon may be able to prescribe cleansers, ointments or a wound care regimen to help.
  • Massage: More doctors are recommending that patients (or a licensed massage therapist) massage their scars. This should be done after the wound closes and any staples or sutures are removed. Massaging an incision and the surrounding tissue may even out any bumps or lumps that remain after the healing process. Be sure to use ample lotion, so that your fingers don’t “stick” to your skin, but slide freely.
  • Steroid Injections: If you are prone to forming keloid scars, talk to your surgeon about having a steroid injection to prevent the formation of another keloid.


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