How to treat Keloid and hypertrophic scarring after plastic surgery

How to treat Keloid and hypertrophic scarring after plastic surgery

11th Nov 2017

The formation of a scar after any plastic surgery is a normal phenomenon. It happens because there is damage to the skin due to the incision made. People can have different scars even if they had the same surgery because it is also affected by other factors such as genetics, age, and how the wound heals.

Those who went through plastic surgery can develop atrophic, hypertrophic or keloid scars. The hypertrophic and keloid scars are the most obvious ones, and that is why most people who develop them seek treatments for it. The treatment for the scars varies depending on what kind of scar develops but there may also be some treatments that can be used on different kinds of scars.

Keloid scars can be treated using steroids, cryotherapy, pressure therapy, surgery, laser treatment and cytotoxic medications. The hypertrophic scars on the other hand, can be treated with massage therapy, silicone sheeting, steroids and surgery.

Treatments would only help when the scar is already present but it would be better if patients do not wait for the scars to develop fully before treating them. It the scar formation is minimized, it would be easier to treat because it is still small in size. Some of a few ways to minimize scarring would be to stop smoking and drinking of alcohol, proper hydration, adequate nutrition, avoiding tension on the wound, preventing infection of the wound, and use of silicone sheeting.

Plastic Surgery And Scars

Breast augmentation, breast lifts, tummy tucks, buttock augmentation, and Brazilian butt lifts are just a few examples of plastic surgeries that can lead to the formation of scars on the body. All major plastic surgeries and even the minor ones may cause some sort of scarring to occur. This is because a scar appears when there is damage to the skin. The degree of the scarring is affected by several factors such as the genetic makeup of the patient, location in the body, age of the patient, and how the wound heals.

For some of the lucky ones, they may only end up with an atrophic scar which is a discolored scar that is still flat. Others may form a keloid scar that is a rounded or irregularly shaped thick scar that grows beyond the incision. There is also a chance to have hypertrophic scars that are quite similar to the appearance of keloid scars but they do not grow beyond the incision. Over time, the scars will usually lighten or shrink in size. Some patients can live with their scars but there may be others that are too obvious such that treatments are needed to minimize them.

Treatment For Scars

The different types of scars that you can get from the different surgical procedures can be treated in order to make them less visible. This is done especially to people who feel like they can’t live with their scars because they can’t stand how it looks. The scars that are also too obvious may affect a person’s self-esteem and confidence, which is the opposite of what people who go through plastic surgery aim for.

To effectively treat the scars, it is important to identify what kind of scar it is first. The different scars can also be treated differently although there may also be treatments that can work in treating different types of scars.

Keloid Scar Treatment

Keloid scars are one of the most extensive and obvious scars that can form. They are treated in order to prevent them from continuously growing. Here are the treatments available for keloid scars:

  • Steroids: The steroids can be used as a treatment for keloid scars by injecting it directly into the scar tissue or making use of a steroid treated tape that is attached to the scar for 12 hours in a day. The steroid will help in the itchiness and burning sensation that the scar causes. It may also help lessen the redness and the size of the scar.
  • Cryotherapy: This treatment will freeze the scar through the use of a medication. This type of treatment can also be used alongside steroid injections. When used early on, it can help prevent the growth of the keloid scar.
  • Pressure Therapy: Applying pressure to the keloid scar also helps prevent it from worsening. In this treatment, a dressing is made and it covers the scar for about 12 hours a day. This type of treatment takes a long time and may be done for a few months.
  • Surgery: Surgical procedures may also be used to treat keloid scars. Through the surgery, the existing keloid scar is removed but there is still a chance for an even bigger keloid scar to form. To prevent this, other treatments will also be done after the surgery to make sure another keloid scar doesn’t grow. The surgeons will also use the least amount of stitches possible to close the wound effectively so that the chance of keloid formation is lessened.
  • Laser Treatment: There are different kinds of laser treatment available today but the best laser treatment for keloids is still being studied. Pulsed dye lasers are effective for those who have lighter skin. For those with darker skin, the pulse dye laser could also be used but it will only decrease the redness of the keloid. There are also carbon dioxide lasers that can be used in combination with steroid injection treatments to minimize the keloid scar.
  • Cytotoxic Medication: This type of medicine is usually used to prevent the growth of cancer cells but it can also be injected into the scar to minimize it. As a side-effect of this treatment, pale areas on the skin and pain on the scar may occur.

Hypertrophic Scar Treatment

Hypertrophic scars are less severe than keloid scars but they may also be unsightly. There is a possibility for this kind of scar to improve naturally on its own but that would happen years after the surgery. Apart from waiting for the hypertrophic scar to possibly improve on its own, patients with this kind of scar can also go for the following treatments:

  • Massage Therapy: This is the simplest and cheapest treatment that can be used on hypertrophic scars. By applying pressure and massaging the healed scar regularly, its appearance will improve. There can also be pressure garments that can be used to make sure there is pressure applied to scar constantly.
  • Silicone Sheeting: The silicone sheeting helps in flattening the scar while making sure it is still moist. It is a painless treatment that is quite common, available and affordable.
  • Steroids: Topical or injectable steroids can be used as a treatment for hypertrophic scars. Steroid injections can be used every 2-6 weeks depending on the scar. This will help flatten and minimize the dark coloring of the scar.
  • Scar Revision Surgery: Hypertrophic scars like keloid scars can also be treated by surgery. The existing scar will be removed, and the wound opening would be sutured more carefully to prevent another hypertrophic or keloid scar to form. It will also be treated with steroids in order to minimize the scar that would be formed. The scar revision surgery can’t just remove the scar; it can only remove the previous scar and replace it with a less visible one.

Minimize Scar Formation

Before having a plastic surgery, it would be best to get all the research done on how you could minimize unsightly scar formation. Knowing this would help make sure that scars are minimized even before they are formed. Of course, preventing them from forming would be much better than finding a treatment after they have already formed so here are a few things that can be done to minimize the scar formation after the surgery.

  • Quit Smoking: Smoking doesn’t only cause harm to your body, but it also prevents the body from healing well. Those who smoke have a higher chance of forming more obvious scars. By quitting smoking, you don’t only help lessen the degree of scarring but you also help the body to heal more efficiently.
  • Avoiding Alcohol: Drinking alcohol tends to dehydrate the body and this is not ideal when there is a wound that needs to heal. Aside from alcohol, it is also best not to drink caffeinated beverages too.
  • Hydrate: Although you have to avoid coffee and alcohol while healing, you should also make sure that your body is hydrated enough. Take in a lot of fluids in the form of water or fruit juices. This helps the normal processes in the body to occur and for healing to go well. A properly healed body is likely to have a less obvious scar.
  • Proper Nutrition: Aside from the fluid intake, you should also make sure that your body is properly nourished for it to heal well. A balanced combination, of fruit, vegetables, protein, and carbohydrates should be in your meals everyday.
  • Prevent Infection: Proper care of the wound can help in preventing any infection from developing. When wounds are infected, it can grow in size and healing is more difficult and leads to larger and more prominent scars.
  • Avoid Tension: It is important to avoid the wound from being stretched when it is still healing to help make sure it heals properly. This is why wearing compression garments are recommended after the surgery.
  • Silicone Sheeting: These can be used on existing scars to flatten them but it can also be used to prevent the formation of a raised scar. It prevents the wound from being dried up and it also gives a slight pressure to prevent it from forming a raised scar.


Scars form as the body heals the damage in the skin due to any plastic surgery. Different people have different scars because it is affected by different factors such as the person’s genetic, age, and how the wound was taken cared of.

There are three kinds of scars that can form after a surgery, the atrophic scar, the hypertrophic scar and the keloid scar. The keloid scar can be treated with the use of steroids, pressure therapy, cryotherapy, laser treatments, surgery or cytotoxic medications. Hypertrophic scars, on the other hand, are treated with massage therapy, steroids, silicone sheeting, or surgery.

Aside from treating the obvious scars, it would be best if the scar formation is minimized even before the wound heals. In order to do so, patients are advised to stop smoking and drinking alcohol, to keep the body hydrated and properly nourished, to avoid tension and infection on the wound site, and to make use of silicone sheeting.

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