Plastic Surgery Q&A: How Can I Improve the Look of My Scars?
One of the most common aspects of the plastic surgeon's career involves managing scars and preventing them from being conspicuous. We are frequently asked by patients how to make a scar go away or how to minimize its appearance. Here are three important things you should know:
1) Keep Wounds in a Moist Environment
The first thing to understand is that a scab is not a good thing for healing. Wounds heal quicker, and with better scars when they are kept in a moist environment rather than covered with a dry scab. Therefore, you should liberally apply antibiotic ointment onto any wound in order to allow it to heal more quickly. The quicker a wound heals, the better the final scar will look.
2) Avoid Sunlight
The next thing to understand is that scars can discolor (become either too light or too dark) if they are exposed to sunlight. It is very important to keep the wound covered while there is antibiotic ointment on it (the ointment actually can act like suntan oil and intensify the sunlight). Once the would is healed, make sure to liberally apply sunscreen over the fresh scar.
In addition, there have been many research studies that have showed that topically applied silicone will improve the appearance of a scar and reduce the redness and flatten the scar out as well. Silicon used to be available only in the form of a thin sheet that could be cut to size and applied onto the scar but is now also available as a gel that can be applied directly to the scar. For scars on the face where it is not practical to put a silicone sheet, the gel works very well. For scars on the rest of the body, you can choose either silicone sheets or silicone gel.
3) Give it Some Time
The most important factor of all is time. It takes a scar between one and two years to reach its final appearance, and in some situations it may even take longer than two years. Scars go through a natural evolution of becoming thick in the first few months, then pink for a few months, and up to a year before they eventually turn into the final appearance. It is during this period of time that using sunblock and silicone are the most important.
Finally, if a scar does not heal well after two years or if it is obvious that the scar will not heal well before that time has elapsed, surgical revision of the scar may be appropriate.
Posted on Mon, July 29, 2013
by Gil Kryger, MD filed under