One frequent concern of any patient considering surgery is what will the scars look like. Since scar formation is the body’s normal response to any injury and it is also part of the healing process, you should expect to see a scar form shortly after surgery. Over time, most scars fade and become less noticeable but they first go through phases of intense redness and sometimes become raised and firm. This is part of the normal healing process and lasts for 3 to 6 months before slow improvement is seen.
Treating Scars After Surgery
Fortunately, there are some things you can do to minimize the appearance of scars after surgery. Discuss these recommendations with your surgeon to see if they are appropriate for you.
- Keep the incision areas out of direct sunlight as it may cause hyperpigmentation (darker scar color). Consider using a sunblock with at least 30 SPF starting a week after surgery.
- Use a silicone based product on the scar starting the second week after surgery.
- Massage the scar with a water based lotion 3 to 5 times per a day for 5 to 10 minutes starting the third week after surgery.
Some things NOT to do to improve scars include applying vitamin E (not proven in medical studies and may irritate the skin) or aloe vera lotion (the active ingredient is nearly gone by the time it gets to the store).
Download more detailed information at Incision & Scar Care.
Dr. Karol Gutowski’s Scar Treatment Experience
“In my scar treatment experience with thousands of patients, I can recommend the following products for minimizing scars after surgery:
- For tummy tucks (abdominoplasties) and body lifts, I instruct my patients to use a GelZone wrap 4 to 7 days after surgery and continue using it for at least 3 months (12 to 20 hours per day)
- For breast augmentations, reductions, lifts and for arm lifts and thigh lifts, I suggest using NewGel+ silicone gel sheets starting 7 to 10 days after surgery and continue using it for at least 3 months (12 to 20 hours per day).
- For incision on the face, or in areas that the silicone gel sheets will not stick, I recommend using a NewGel+ silicone gel ointment for at least 3 months.
- Another great option for incisions on the arms, legs, breasts, or trunk is 3M Micropore Paper Tape. Applying the tape right after surgery and changing it every 1 to 2 weeks typically results in a thin and flat scar after 3 months.
In some patients, the silicone gel sheets may cause minor skin irritation. If that happens, the sheets can be used less frequently or the gel ointment may be tried.