Traditional plastic surgery procedures like breast augmentation, tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), breast reduction surgery, and facelift surgery all require incisions to produce the results most cosmetic surgery patients seek. Unfortunately for many patients, an array of factors such as incision type, skin type, age, heredity, and even ethnicity can increase the chance of developing scars post-plastic surgery.
Dr. David Whiteman and the staff at Southern Plastic Surgery do their best to educate their Duluth and Atlanta area cosmetic surgery patients on how to avoid additional scarring. To dispel some of the myths out there about what is and is not effective in minimizing the appearance of scars, we’ve devised a list of scar therapy components:
Paper Tape: The only topical treatment advisable for new incisions, paper tape is useful in alleviating tension on the skin surrounding the incision(s). With less tension, the affected skin can heal quicker. Additionally, the pressure provided by the tape when placed directly over the incision keeps the scar tissue from becoming raised and turning into a hypertrophic scar.
Silicone Sheeting: A host of medical technology companies have introduced versions of thin silicone sheeting for post operative care following the National Institute of Health’s studies on the material in 2002. Similar in appearance to plastic wrap, the material is applied to your incisions once they’ve reached an adequate maturity. The benefit of silicone is that it doesn’t stick to the skin (therefore eliminating the risk of further damaging the incision when changing dressings) and creates an impermeable environment that keeps water in and harmful chemical, bacteria, and particulates out of the body.
Silicone Gel Wound Treatment: Similar to the issues encountered by improperly shaped Band Aids (i.e. trying to put a bandage designed for you knee around your finger), some surgical incisions on highly dimensional areas of the body like the joints, face, or breast are hard to dress with a flat sheeting material. Instead, breast implant scars, facelift scars, and post bariatric cosmetic surgery scars may be more effectively treated with a silicone gel. This version of silicone treatment binds with the outermost layer of the patient’s skin (stratum corneum) for the same healing benefits of silicone sheeting, but also has the advantage of easy application anywhere on the body. Southern Plastic Surgery patients have seen exceptional results with bioCorneun® silicone gel ointment. There are also certain silicone gel treatments with an added SPF ingredient that protects the newly formed skin of the scar from pigmentation irregularities that can develop if left unshielded. Silicone gel can be used on old and new scars, but should be reserved for those cuts or incisions that have already fully healed (closed).
Massage for Scars: It has long been know that massage therapy is effective for mental rejuvenation, but according to reports documented by breastcancer.org, massage is also helpful in diminishing texture issues that can develop as wounds heal. Like the positive pressure we talked about with paper tape, massage can increase circulation to the forming tissue and keep the collagen that develops frombecoming raised. It’s important to note that massage should only be used once all sutures or staples have been removed and the incision has closed so that you’re not inadvertently introducing bacteria that could lead to infection. Southern Plastic Surgery’s partner, Laser Lights Cosmetic Laser Center, has an on-staff licensed massage therapist available to perform 1 hour massage sessions using a variety of techniques. For patients with severe, previous scarring laser skin treatment may also be performed.
Vitamin E for Scar Reduction: Oils containing concentrated vitamin E have been touted as the homeopathic remedy for scarring. According to a 2007 article in The New York Times, however, vitamin E does not typically produce positive scar reduction results. In fact, the University of Miami study referenced in the article cited a number of vitamin E users who actually developed contact dermatitis (allergic reaction) to the product’s application more often than those who used no scar treatments.
For more detailed post-plastic surgery aftercare instructions continue to read our blog. We also maintain a health and wellness forum full of healthy recipes and exercise tips that may also aid you in recovering from surgery and boost your overall health.