Scars after plastic surgery remain a concern most patients ask us about during a consultation. While we do all we can to reduce the visibility of your post-operation scars, most major procedures will leave a visible mark where the incision lines have been. But yes, after plastic surgery, you will have a scar. So what can be done about it, if anything?
What is Common in Terms of Scars After Plastic Surgery?
To begin, surgeons often place tummy tuck scars as low as possible along the waistline so you can obscure them with underwear or jeans. Further, liposuction cannula insertion scars may be minimal, minimising obvious scarring.
When it comes to breast procedures, breast augmentation scars often heal nicely in the breast crease. As a result they won’t be overly noticeable with normal body positions or with hands by your side. The Le Jour method can help minimise breast reduction scars, however there will be a noticeable scar on the breast tissues.
We can usually help you fade or reduce your scars over time. This can be done using state of the art laser treatments or skin-needling and special skin care products. However these also depend on you having a healthy lifestyle and resilient skin. Further, it is important you follow all post-operative instructions such as not smoking and resting after your procedure.
Why Are Scars an Inevitable Part of Plastic Surgery?
New innovations in skin healing are being developed. But until medicine enters a stage where we can operate without incisions, there will be scars after plastic surgery. Scars are how the body responds to an invasion of its dermal structure. It forms stronger, thicker skin where an incision has been made. The skin of a scar is also darker or lighter in colour than surrounding skin. In some patients, such as those with Asian heritage or high pigmentation, keloid scarring may be an issue.
Scar revisions can also be performed, surgically or using lasers, if required and if you’re a suitable candidate. Everyone heals differently, though, so some aspects of scarring are unpredictable. The reality is that you will have incision lines and hence, you will have scars after plastic surgery procedures.
Caring for Your Scars After Plastic Surgery
If you take care of them properly and experience no complications, they usually heal nicely within 12 to 18 months or more.
- Before you envision having very visible or unattractive scars under your breasts, take heart – they don’t tend to look that bad, even when the bandages first come off
- Ask to see photos of early incision lines of other patients healing from the same operation you are having
- We can show you these in-clinic at a pre-op consultation
- Remember, every patient is different and surgery scars can vary tremendously
- Careful suturing and careful post-op care make all the difference to reduce scar visibility in healthy patients
- But some patients do too much, too soon, or have complications leading to more visible scars
- Be sure you discuss your scar treatment options at a post-operation consultation
Like all marks and blemishes, scars fade and become unnoticeable, provided you’re attentive post-operation and careful with the sensitive membranes of skin, folding back together.
How Does My Body Heal Itself?
Before we can make any suggestions, it’s important you briefly understand how the human body remakes itself. Most of us are familiar with red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets, particularly if you’re addicted to medical dramas on television.
But the body also has specific processes that do the job of healing your wounds or incision lines. These healing processes occur at both at the epidermal and sub-dermal levels of your skin. Fibroblasts produce what’s known as collagen and this helps to heal the wound, in a sense, by slowly drawing the incisions together and forming new flesh.
To heal faster, some doctors recommend Fibroblasts or 500mg doses of Vitamin C and wholesome proteins. Whatever you do, be sure you are following a nutritious eating plan and frequent meals as you heal – recovering from surgery is no time to restrict your nutritional intake even if you want to shed a few kilos.
Probiotics, some vitamin supplements as well as citrus, lean meats, chicken, vegetables and fish, may also help you heal better by providing good vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. The supplements we provide to you in our Rapid Recovery packs for your recovery period may also help aid your healing. Some patients also enjoy Healite II low-level light therapy (LED treatments) before surgery and/or after surgery as they heal – ask us about Healite options during a post-op consultation.
What Will Make Post-Plastic Surgery Scars Worse?
Our bodies are resilient organic machines, able to slowly resolve wounds, cuts, abnormal cells and aggressive lumps with surprising acuity. Scar tissue can be bumpy and rigid, smooth and neat, raised and uncomfortable. But what you do does have an effect. Follow your post-op instructions carefully and precisely to avoid increasing infection risks and increasing the visibility of your scars after plastic surgery.
Ask us which substances you can use on incision lines, and when. Don’t put anything on your fresh incision lines that your surgeon hasn’t approved. It could be dangerous or lead to an infection.
To assist healing your incisions without added dramas, it’s important to try to avoid:
Cigarettes are a very dangerous cocktail of over 4,000 poisons – delivered in a method that is damaging not just to your lungs, but to every organ of your body – especially your largest organ, your skin.
Not only will smoking lead to increased cancer risks and a host of other health issues and healing problems, it usually prevents your body from healing itself, which poses a significant risk to recovery.
Wound breakdowns are very common in patients who smoke – and if you lie about your smoking habits, you are putting your health in danger. Quit well in advance and never smoke in the months leading up to – and following – surgery.
In fact, smoking is dangerous at all times before and after surgery – not just in the immediate after-period.
It’s clear that drinking alcohol is a big part of Friday afternoon culture and Australian culture. And typically, if you’re healthy and responsible, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying a drink or two in moderation.
That said, while you’re recovering from surgery (of any kind), alcohol will not only dehydrate your skin but your whole system, driving its attention away from doing the job of knitting you back together without a stitch out of place.
So if you can, avoid drinking for a few days or weeks to give your body the best chance of healing itself.
Do you know how surgeons always suggest rest as a cure for most conditions, including post-operative care? There’s a good reason for this. Rest is incredibly important to give your body, mind and emotions time to sort through the processes and changes you’ve made by having plastic surgery.
So take adequate time off from work, childcare, pet care and other responsibilities – ask for help! Remember, you don’t have to do it all on your own.
Avoid Sun Exposure on Fresh Incision Lines or Scars After Plastic Surgery
Though it may be very tempting to hit the beach to show off your new confident curves, or flatter tummy, to the world, the last thing your healing incisions need is sunlight exposure. Imagine the UV rays, all of that heat, penetrating a very sensitive area of your body as it heals. Knowing what sun exposure does to healthy skin (making it look aged and damaged), imagine the damage sun exposure on your fresh scars after plastic surgery.
Wait at least 12 to 18 months before exposing your scars to sunlight – ask the Coco Ruby staff about sun protection products. Every time you go out in the sun with your incisions bared, you’re scorching the newly healing flesh. This worsens the skin healing processes, which often leads to a more visible scar.
And remember, watch what water you get on your scar – not all pools or saunas have adequate anti-bacterial measures. Follow instructions and wait until you heal before exposing your incisions to heat, saunas and swimming pools.
Above all, be attentive to wound care and contact us immediately if you have any concerns. Keep an eye on any changes. Don’t put too much stress on it and alert for signs of infection. Your wound will heal and the subsequent scarring will fade.
The Appearance of Your Scars After Plastic Surgery?
It’s partly genetic, partly about the operation and suturing, and partly down to you!
Please Contact Dr.Rubinstein’s office to book a consultation or enquire about further information regarding plastic surgery procedures.
Dr. Craig Rubinstein’s affiliations include: