the first 30 days after surgery: How to reduce scarring

Scars after surgery take much longer to heal than a little paper cut. After surgery, the first way to minimize scarring is to give the immune system an extra boost. Life style changes help scars heal better after surgery. Surgical scars take longer to heal and need more time and attention. Your doctor will give you tips but most of the effort must come from you.

Lifestyle Changes

Eat a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, poultry and fish. Whole grains, beans, and low-fat dairy gives the body the vitamins and minerals needed to heal. Drink plenty of fresh filtered water during the day. Green tea and herbal tea are better than coffee, soda, and alcohol. Try to get some exercise after surgery. If you're at a stand still of what to do, ask your doctor what you can do. Exercise helps the heart to keep pumping and cleaning out the wound site.

Stop smoking and try to get plenty of fresh air. Fresh air heals the wound and helps with infections. Do not pick at the wound and do what the surgeon says to properly take care of the wound that you have.

Most doctors will tell you to rest for at least a few weeks. Don’t go back to work after one week because you might feel up to it. Exhausting yourself is never a great way to heal wounds. Proper wound care is the way the doctor and nurses tell you how to care for it. Use only ointments and remedies they prescribe you. If you develop an infection it is important to contact the doctors and get treated promptly.

Don’t put undue stress on the incision by lifting, bending, and stretching. The doctor will tell you what kind of exercise you can do.  Stress will pull your incisions apart and delay healing. Try to avoid sun on your incisions whenever possible. Apply sunscreen on your face or any part of your body that is exposed. Check with the doctor before doing this.

Scar Products and Treatments

Your doctor will recommend scar products  and treatments. The surgeon may use silicone wound dressings. They have the thickness of thick plastic wrap. The benefit is that it does not stick to the wound. It protects the wound from infection and stress. This dressing does not damage the skin when removed. It is often used to reduce scarring after undergoing plastic surgery. Often you can discuss the type of bandage used before your surgery.

Incision placement often adds to scarring. Often your surgeon will discuss placement of the cut. They can often be placed in a location where it can be hidden or to minimize the amount of scarring. Of course, this depends on the type of surgery it is.

Topical Cremes, Gels and Silicone Sheeting

Some doctors and dermatologists will recommend a scar cream or gel that puts a nice seal over the wound. These products promote healing and preventing certain types of scars after surgery. Silicone sheeting provides moisture to the wound and builds up collagen in the skin. Moisture helps healing and prevents scarring.

Steroid Injections and Massage

Steroid injections help with flat raised scars called keloid scars. These are often scars that are larger than the incision made. The injections help with itching and pain and flattens or reduces the size of the scar. Many doctors recommend a licensed massage therapist to massage the scars or wounds after they have healed.

Laser Scar Resurfacing

Often the doctor may recommend this procedure for scarring. The laser light burns pin sized holes into the skins layers. It generates new growth of tissue often healing and removing the dead tissue. It often leads to healing of the skin and the scar tissue. There are many different type of lasers used to treat the various different types of scars. Fractional lasers are effective but all treatments require a qualified surgeon.

When using a laser, a dermatologist will look at the size of the scar, thickness, location, skin type, and medical condition of patient. It helps to reduce scars but does not always remove them completely. Scars from burns are the most difficult to treat overall.

Overall surgical scars have different treatments available. Your surgeon or dermatologist will suggest the scar treatments and regime that is best for you the first 30 days. Wounds and scars take time to heal you may have to wait before beginning some of these treatments until the wound has healed. The good news is there are a variety of treatments available. 

By Joan Russell

Comment