14.2.18

Post-Op Scar: Is It Possible to Get Rid of It?

Usually, a scar appears on the skin after a trauma or surgery and, unfortunately, is a consistent pattern. The way a scar will look and healing time depend on many factors, including an immune system of a patient. Is it possible to get rid of a surgical scar on the skin? Or does one have to come to terms with it?

 

About the nature of surgical scars

A scar that occurs after surgery is usually treated as an aesthetic defect, but it contains an internal cause, that is, changes in the skin structure. Fibrous tissue fibres (that compose a scar) become very compressed and deprived of blood vessels after surgery (they contain very few living cells).

Scars after surgery can be itching during the healing period, and become not as elastic as the rest (healthy) skin areas. This is the main reason why patients wonder how to remove a surgical scar.

It happens that sutures that are inside (under the skin) get inflamed individually from the external ones. In this case, the patient complains of painful feelings, though surface symptoms (red skin, swellings) are unnoticeable.

Treatment of a scar allows eliminating discomfort at the healing stage and problems with muscle contraction, as well as the cosmetic defect itself.

 

Scars at different healing stages

Normally, scars should not cause physical discomfort and usually manifest themselves by burning or stinging only if they protrude over the skin or expand. Mostly, patients decide to make scar revision when scars do compromise the quality of life.

The way a surgical scar will look depends on the following factors:

  • Patient’s age
  • Patient’s immune status
  • Genetic factor
  • Location of the wound (for example, a scar formed along the wrinkle or natural skin fold will be thinner and less noticeable)
  • Experience of the surgeon and surgical wound management
  • Drainage quality (if a wound is big and of a complex shape).

Inflammation of the injured skin area is a natural reaction of our body to the surgery resulting in increased blood flow that causes redness and swelling. This condition is observed within 1 to 2 days on average, but it all depends on the individual constitutional peculiarities and on the surgery type. Usually, all treatment and patient care measures after surgery are performed at hospital. Inflammation is suppressed with the help of special systemic and local therapies. A scar at this stage can be removed by means of an immunosuppressor, which should be injected into surrounding tissues (although some experts deny this method).

When a scar becomes denser, swelling, redness and pain feelings are replaced with itching over time. This uncomfortable feeling is due to increased tissue restoration process. This symptom can be removed with the help of special soothing ointments.

At the aging stage, a scar acquires a definite form depending on the constitutional peculiarities and other factors listed above. A scar can be:

  • Hypertrophic (protrudes above the skin surface)
  • Atrophic (sinks down)
  • Keloid (becomes bulging and shiny).

Over time, a scar fades due to necrosis of connective tissue capillaries. Instead of being scarlet, a scar becomes darker and then pale or brownish. Often, hypertrophic scars are darker or lighter than the healthy skin by 1 to 6 tone, atrophic ones look more faded, аnd keloid ones are either pink or red.

If it’s been less than half a year after a surgery, only special ointments can be used to treat scars. This process will be effective if you consult a plastic surgeon, dermatologist or cosmetologist in advance.

NB! The “older” the scar is, the more difficult it is to remove it with local remedies. Using ointments to treat 5-year-old scars, unfortunately, is a futile undertaking.

 

How to treat a scar?

If a scar is fresh, it is necessary to sanitize it for prophylactic purposes at least twice daily after bathing. Your attending physician may tell you about the items of care for surgical scars, but it is important to remember that you should by no means to:

  • Apply compress to a scar
  • Visit bathhouses or to take a hot bath within 3 weeks after surgery
  • Use scrubs or a stiff sponge (washcloth)
  • Scratch/rub a scar
  • Use aggressive antiseptic agents
  • Apply absolute ethanol or iodine for scar management.

Old scars contain almost no living cells, so they can be safely removed by laser resurfacing and other similar methods of scar controlling (dermabrasion, cryodestruction, chemical excision, etc.). All these procedures should be performed not in the regular beauty salon, but in a proven clinic of aesthetic medicine.

As for home remedies, despite numerous attempts of specialists to find an effective method for scar removal (hydrocortisone, aloe injection, etc.), the most effective approach has not been developed yet.

Nevertheless, there are ways that can significantly improve the quality of scars:

  • Rest and avoidance of actions that may irritate a damaged skin area (do not touch, or scratch, or pick a scar)
  • Prolonged (at least 2 to 4 weeks) fixation of the adhesive patch on the edges of the stitched wound (to avoid scar widening)
  • Use of silicon wafers and coatings, patches and special gels to prevent pathological scars, i.e. enlarged scars and of a bright crimson colour.

NB! Only your attending physician can prescribe a proper treatment of a surgical scar after assessing the situation and analysing the patient’s general health.


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14.2.18  16:44