Scars are a necessary evil with cosmetic surgery. Nobody wants scars, but if you want surgery to achieve the breasts, body or face of your dreams, surgical incisions are a necessary byproduct. Realizing that scars are inevitable, our goal must be to create cosmetically beautiful scars. Obviously, a precise surgical closure with attention to detail is essential for achieving this. That being said, patients play a huge role in the final appearance of their scars. Following a few rules is essential to obtaining beautiful scars.
Rule #1 – Protect your scars from the sun
The sun emits UV rays, which can cause permanent damage and discoloration of scars. Most clothing still allows a small fraction of UV light to penetrate it and reach your skin. This small amount of UV light is enough to harm your scars. If you can’t stay inside, sun protection is a must! When going outside for even a few minutes, cover the scars with a bandage or silicone strip or use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
Rule #2 – Be judicious with what you put on your scar
A lot of commonly used products for lacerations can be harmful for the final appearance of scars. Hydrogen peroxide is an example of this. Not only does it destroy bacteria; it also destroys and inactivates proteins and cells necessary for scar healing, maturation and contraction. Because of this, prolonged use of hydrogen peroxide can lead to ugly scars.
Most commonly used antibiotic ointments, when used in excess, can also have negative effects on the appearance of your scars. Most patients tend to develop allergic contact dermatitis after several weeks of topical antibiotic treatment. This prolonged inflammatory response can lead to scars that are darker than desired.
Finally, a long perpetuated myth is that Vitamin E is beneficial for scars. Many studies have found that Vitamin E has no effect on scar appearance, and one actually found that Vitamin E is harmful. Bottom line – avoid Vitamin E creams.
Rule #3 – Silicone strips are the gold standard in scar care
Silicone strips put pressure on your incision, helping your incision mature faster. Silicone strips also work an effective barrier against UV rays, preventing long term darkening. Silicone strips affect fibroblasts within your scar, which are the cells responsible for reorienting and remodeling collagen. As fibroblasts work, scars become thinner and less red. Of all the available topical treatments for scars, silicone strips has the longest and most reliable track record in producing thin, pale scars.
Rule 4 – Talk to us if you have questions
If your scars don’t look, bring this us to your surgeon. Additional treatments are available, including corticosteroid injections, bleaching creams, and fractional laser treatments. In worst case scenarios, scar revisions are available and can often lead to better results.