How to Minimize Scarring After Plastic Surgery
If you are thinking about having plastic surgery, you might not know how to reduce scarring after the procedure. While some scarring always occurs after plastic surgery, you can minimize the problem by following simple guidelines.
This post explains what causes scars after plastic surgery and how to minimize them.
According to Dr. Ashley Steinberg of Houston, “When the skin is damaged in any way, there is a risk of scarring. For instance, if you fell off your bike often as a child and cut your elbow, chances are you have a small scar there.”
The same happens in plastic surgery. That’s because when the surgeon makes an incision, they are cutting through all of the skin layers. That’s why the surgery usually leaves a scar.
Even if your surgeon is highly skilled and places the incision in a concealed area, you still will probably have a scar of some kind.
This is one of the reasons it’s so important to select a skilled plastic surgeon; cosmetic surgery performed by someone with less skill and experience can leave more visible scars.
Certain things may make you more susceptible to scarring. There’s nothing you can do about the factors mentioned below. But at least you know about them, so you understand how likely you are to have scars after your plastic surgery.
As the years pass, the skin gets thinner and less elastic. That’s because collagen production falls as we get older. This change thins the fat layer under the skin, so it usually doesn’t heal as well as it once did.
There are other factors besides collagen production that can make scars more prominent as you get older:
- Exposure to the sun
However, wrinkles and age spots that occur as we age may conceal scars to some degree.
Some races have more scarring than others. For instance, African people are more likely to develop keloid and hypertrophic scars caused by scar tissue overgrowth.
Usually, scars stay thin and are hard to see after you heal. But how light or dark the scars appear depends on your skin tone:
- Light skin: The scar may be close to the skin color in the surrounding area and may fade significantly over time.
- Dark skin: People with darker skin may notice they have darker skin scars than the surrounding skin.
If some of your family members tend to have more pronounced scars, you could be in the same boat. So if your family tends to scar badly, you should talk to your surgeon about it.
A large incision will leave a more noticeable scar than a short one. Also, the longer and deeper the incision, the longer it takes to heal, and the more scarring there may be.
This is because a deep and longer incision is more stressful as you move, and it may heal slowly.
Some people who have plastic surgery may simply heal faster than others. Or your skin may heal more slowly.
Note that slow-healing skin may be caused by a medical issue, such as diabetes. But how fast you heal varies widely by person.
Now that you know about the factors that cause more scarring, what can you minimize them? The good news is there are some things we can control to reduce scarring.
Of course, you should always listen to anything your plastic surgeon says about scarring. They will know your body and the surgery best and recommend ways to reduce the issue.
Your surgeon should have told you well before your surgery to quit smoking. It’s important not to smoke for at least one month before and after surgery.
However, you should try as hard as you can not take up smoking again. It leads to more scarring and also can slow the healing process.
Smoking is such a problem with surgery that many plastic surgeons won’t do the procedure if you don’t stop smoking at least two weeks before.
Dehydration happens if you don’t drink enough water. In the worst cases, you may have electrolyte imbalances and cardiac issues. In a more moderate case, you will be thirsty and feel sick.
It’s essential to drink a lot of water before and after surgery to speed up the healing process. And your body is less likely to have significant scars.
You also should avoid caffeine and alcohol during the recovery process; both can dehydrate you.
Protein is essential for the skin to heal. So, you should eat a lot of healthy protein after your plastic surgery. Good protein choices include:
- Nuts and seeds
If you don’t eat meat, you should eat plenty of soy products as you heal.
If you are heavier, you could have more scarring. That’s because the fat under the skin can work against the surgeon’s efforts to close the incision as perfectly as possible.
Many health conditions can slow healing, such as diabetes. For the best results after surgery, make sure your health condition is well controlled before the procedure.
For instance, high glucose levels from diabetes slow the healing process. If you have this condition, try to keep your blood glucose in the normal range.
There are things you can do during your recovery to minimize scarring. For instance, caring properly for your incisions to prevent infection will reduce scarring.
Some things you should focus on during the recovery process to minimize scarring are:
- Get plenty of rest
- Follow your surgeon’s recommendations regarding wound care
- Reduce stress on the incision by avoiding bending and lifting
- Avoid sunlight, which can make scars more visible
Scarring is part of almost any surgery. But you can be assured that your surgeon will do their best to make your scars as minimal as possible.
Most patients have minimal scarring, and if you keep the above information in mind, you should, too.