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How soon after plastic surgery can you start scar treatment

When the surgical intervention is over, it doesn’t mean that all the health related issues have been solved. After surgery, we have the post-operative recovery period and after this, the patient can return to the normal day to day routine. In some cases, the recovery period requires just a few days of rest before resumption of regular activities. In other situations, the recovery can take more than a few weeks.

After the plastic surgery intervention, most patients are preoccupied with caring for the wound incisions to ensure a nice looking scar. It is not difficult to care for the incision, but it is essential to do so to avoid infection and other potential complications. Proper care of the incision, as shown by the medical staff, can also prevent ugly looking scars. Following surgery and after checking out of the hospital or clinic, be sure to strictly follow instructions of your surgeon especially when it comes to the care of your wounds. You will need to devote at least 10 to 20 minutes each day to keeping incision site clean and dry.

Even with proper care, some wounds will heal badly, leading to unpleasant looking scars. This is why it is important to know that treatment options for bad scarring are widely available now. Depending on the appearance of the scar, the treatment can start a few days after the surgery or even a few weeks later.

Looking after the scar in the hospital

After the plastic surgery is finished, the plastic surgeon will put bandages on the incision sites. The surgeon wants to make sure that there are no signs of a potential infection and that the wound will close completely. The surgical sutures will keep the tissues together at the incision site.

Most patients avoid looking at the incision site when the surgeon is changing the dressing. It is recommended that you do since the best learning method is watching how to do it properly so you can do it on your own. It is also important to see your fresh incisions so you would be able to tell if the wound looks better or worse than the initial stage during recuperation.

How to take care of the incision at home

While you are in the medical facility, the surgeon and the nurses will be responsible for looking after your incision site. But once you get home, this will be something you need to do. Before leaving the hospital, make sure to ask your plastic surgeon how often you need to change the bandages and how to do it properly.

When you change the bandages, it is necessary to check on the incision, just like your plastic surgeon did, to track healing process and determine if within the timetable. You should check if the wound has closed, if dehiscence occurred (opening of the sides of the incisions) or if there are any signs of infection.

After checking the incision condition, you might be tempted to accelerate the healing process by applying a lot of creams, gels, or the excess use of water or antibacterial substances. Don’t! Do exactly what your surgeon advised. Using more products than necessary on the wound might slow down the healing process instead of doing the opposite.

Another thing, never remove the sutures or the scab or crust that forms over the wound during healing. It is only natural to want to have a clear skin as soon as possible, but the skin crust protects and even helps with wound healing. Replacing the crusts can lead to unwanted scars that are highly visible.

Wound healing and scars

The cicatrization represents the physiological process of any wound healing or scar formation whether from trauma, burns, surgical interventions, etc..

The appearance of a scar can be different depending on the surface and the depth of the wound, its localization, and level of postoperative care of the wounds. All these elements can influence the aspect and the quality of the future scar. To the list, we can add the genetic predisposition. In other words, each body is designed to produce a certain type of scar.

There are people who are genetically predisposed to wide scars, hypertrophic scars, pigmented scars, and keloid scars. Skin tone and complexion plays a role as risk factors for scarring. We obviously can’t influence a genetic predisposition, but there are available therapeutic methods to prevent the formation of an ugly scar or treatment once it occurs.

How to prevent ugly scarring

The cicatrization process lasts for approximately a year and it starts with wound healing. In other words, after the healing starts, a process of scar maturing follows during which time, the scar can appear and look like the surrounding skin or worse. It is important to know that during this period, you can minimize possible adverse scarring and improve appearance with the use of different non-surgical treatments like creams, silicone gels or cortisone microinjections.

Creams with a high UV factor should also be used. All these products are efficient only during the period of scar maturing. This means you can start using them after the surgery and up to one year. Your plastic surgeon will recommend the best time to start scar treatment and he will also prescribe the products to use for your specific case.

Surgical treatment for scars

Once the cicatrization process has ended, which approximately takes a year after the plastic surgery, the only scar minimizing solution left would be surgical scar revision. There are plenty of techniques, adapted to the particularities of each case and dependent on the aspect of the scar, the localization, its size, depth, color etc.

Among these methods, are as follows:

  • Excision and suture: simple suture is possible when the surgical removal of the scar doesn’t generate a skin defect. It is indicated for small and narrow scars or scars in areas with skin laxity.
  • Tissular expander: this is a silicon filled bubble taking different shapes and dimensions that can be filled with saline solution in multiple stages. New and surplus skin is created in the vicinity of the scar. This surplus skin obtained by tissular expander serves as the replacement tissue for the adjacent scar. This type of intervention usually ensures an optimal post-operative result, but has the disadvantage of being a lengthier treatment method, which requires two surgical stages, to wit:

Skin graft or skin transplant is indicated for the treatment of scars with an extended surface.

Dermabrasion is usually performed on the face and chest or small or bigger regions. The intervention is performed with the help of a revolving abrasive tool that removes the top layers of the skin. The plastic surgeon will polish skin and remove surface irregularities.

Bad scarring can stigmatize, lead to inferiority complex and result in social isolation. When they occur after plastic surgery, the emotional impact on the patient is even bigger. In some cases, aside from the aesthetic damage, they can also create an important functional damage, depending on their location.

Certain areas, such as the bust and the back are more predisposed to vicious scarring. The lesions on the face, even if they are small, are more difficult to hide. A skilled and Board certified plastic surgeon will help minimize risks of bad scarring but do note that there are other factors influencing the healing process. If your surgery leaves you with unsightly scars, there are different treatment options that can correct and/or minimize visibility. Keep in mind that a perfect skin needs constant and permanent attention.

Conclusion

Skin scars can develop as a result of an accident, illness or surgery. Whatever the cause, the scars are considered cutaneous stigmas that create an aesthetic and sometimes even functional defect.

A scar is formed in time and it can get to its final aspect, 9 months to 1 year, after the plastic surgery procedure. The critical period occurs two weeks after the intervention and it usually lasts about 8 weeks, during which the patient needs constant check up and help with the cicatrization process. Starting scar treatment two weeks after the surgery is the best time to ensure you are getting satisfactory results after your plastic surgery. Make sure to discuss with your plastic surgeon the aspect of the incision as it is highly important to keep the incision site clean and cared for during the weeks following plastic surgery.

The appearance of the scars formed after plastic surgery is extremely diverse and it depends on many factors like the reaction of the skin after the surgical act, and the skills and experience of the plastic surgeon performing the intervention. It is important to quit smoking before starting a scar treatment. As your plastic surgeon might have mentioned already, smoking causes bad scarring as it affects the proper oxygenation and flow of blood to the wound and impairs healing.

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