Why Do You Get Surgical Scars and How Can You Minimize Them?
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Whenever your skin is injured, whether through surgery or accident, your body quickly attempts to repair the wound, causing a scar to form. Surgery causes trauma to multiple layers of the skin and the underlying tissue and fat, which is why scarring is so common after invasive procedures like breast augmentation, tummy tuck surgery, and the Mommy Makeover.
Scarring is a natural part of the healing process and, obviously, something you want and need to occur. Their appearance can vary depending on the incision’s size and depth as well as your skin type, age, and how quickly your skin heals.
It is important to note that all incisions are made in discreet locations (whenever possible), and scars will fade with time.
What Are the Stages of Wound Healing?
Wound healing occurs in three sequential and overlapping phases. These include:
This begins at the time of injury as the body tries to heal the wound. The site of the incision becomes swollen, tender, and red. This can last up to two weeks.
During this stage, the body starts the skin repair process by building new tissues within the wound. This makes the site appear red, rigid, and raised.
This is the final phase of wound healing in which the body works on the scar to soften and flatten it. It can take between 12 to 18 months. After this time, the scar is considered mature.
How Can You Minimize the Appearance of Your Scars?
Minimizing the appearance of scars means focusing on the factors you can control. Some of the common ways to prevent or minimize surgery scars include:
Good Incision Care
Good incision care is one of the best ways to minimize significant scarring after surgery.
Making sure you follow all the recommended post-operative instructions is essential to healing without infection and major scarring. This will include avoiding trauma or anything that forces increased tension on the healing site (as this can cause the incision to separate, increase the size of the scar, and prolong the healing process).
Scar massage is recommended for scars less than two years old. Massaging your scars softens the scar tissue and decreases tissue buildup, often making scars less noticeable.
Once your stitches have dissolved (or have been removed) and scabs have fallen off naturally, begin to massage your scar. This is done by applying firm pressure with your fingers on the skin around the incision. The pressure can be applied in a circular motion, vertically, or horizontally for around 10 minutes, a few times daily.
Avoid Exposure to Sunlight
Sun exposure may cause your scars to turn darker than the surrounding skin. To prevent this, ensure you use a high SPF sunscreen to reduce the chances of having your scar tissue darken.
Even if your scars are covered by clothing, remember that the sun can penetrate some materials. Applying SPF to the scar is still recommended.
Silicone Wound Treatment
If you are seriously concerned about scarring, you can consider applying a silicone wound treatment. These are available in both strip and gel form and can be found at your local drugstore.
Be sure to start using these only after your incision has closed entirely.
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