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Minimizing Post-Op Scarring

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Updated April 01, 2008

First, take good care of your post-surgical wounds in the short-term healing period following your surgery. Our quick tip on wound care will help with that.

Second, to help minimize the appearance of scars, several methods have been proven effective for use during and after healing. The most commonly used and effective method so far seems to be the use of self-adhesive silicone sheeting. These are small silicone-covered patches that adhere to the skin over and around the incision site.

Similar silicone devices have been used successfully both in wound healing and in the prevention of hypertrophic and keloid scars for over 20 years, with many studies proving their clinical effectiveness. The use of silicone sheeting has been shown to produce even more dramatic differences in healing when used on patients who are at high risk for developing keloids or hypertrophic scars.

Once the scars are fully healed, many methods can diminish their appearance, some more invasive than others (and some more proven than others). These include:

  • Scar revision surgery by excision, which could be followed by any of the additional listed methods
  • The use of lasers to resurface the area, decreasing and softening scar tissue
  • Dermatography – the use of medical tattooing needles to inject pigment to camouflage the scar, and/or anti-inflammatory agents to flatten and soften the scar
  • The use of special creams, lotions, and ointments. Especially popular currently are ointments containing onion extract, Retin-A, topical vitamins E and C, emu oil, and glycolic acid as their active ingredients. Keep in mind, though, that although many people swear by these products, their effectiveness is unproven.

    Sources:

    Scar management: prevention and treatment strategies; Current Opinions in Otolaryngology, August, 2005, Volume 13; School of Medicine, University of California-San Diego.

    Evaluation of a Self-Adherent Soft Silicone Dressing For The Treatment Of Hypertrophic Postoperative Scars; Journal of Wound Care, May 2006, Volume 15; Special Sciences Institute, Madrid, Spain.

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