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How to Reduce Surgical Scars
While a surgical scar may not be an attractive reminder of a surgical procedure, a scar is the body's natural response to damage. A scar's appearance is due to the buildup of collagen fibers, known as fibroblasts, that are generated to protect the skin. The type of scar tissue you develop following surgery is chiefly based on genetics: some people are predisposed to experience raised--also known as hypertrophic--scars while others may experience lumpy, red or purple scars 29. While a scar tends to fade over time, procedures and treatments are available to speed healing and reduce a scar's appearance.
Apply an antibiotic cream to your surgical incision when the incision has stopped bleeding. Applying an antibiotic cream can prevent harmful bacteria from infecting the area, which can allow the body to initiate healing and repair. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the more damage that takes place to the skin, the more likely the scar will be significant. Therefore, reducing the risk of infection can potentially reduce the scar's size.
Use a scar treatment cream or gel to help minimize the signs of scarring. Start applying the cream once the incision has had sufficient time to begin healing--anywhere from two to six weeks after surgery. Products include Scar Fade, Mederma or silicone gel sheeting. These may help to slow excess production of collagen in the scar, lighten the scar and flatten the scar, which can reduce its appearance, according to Medline Plus.
Consult with a doctor on a possible surgical option for scar revision, if the scar has not faded as much as you'd lie, anywhere from 60 to 90 days following surgery, advises Medline Plus 31113. Although surgical scars can be treated longer after surgery, Medline Plus recommends this as the best time to seek treatment 9.
Reduce the appearance of the scar further with a noninvasive cosmetic treatment, such as dermabrasion. During dermabrasion treatments, a physician uses a wire brush to remove the upper layers of skin that may be hardened or discolored due to scar tissue growth 2. After removing the scar tissue, the skin revealed underneath tends to be softer or less raised above the skin, according to the University of Virginia Health System 2. Your doctor may also try steroid injections, which can reduce the redness or itching associated with scar tissue.
Explore surgery to remove the scar formation if noninvasive treatments don't work. This involves removing the scar formation and potentially applying a skin graft to the area to restore blood flow and healthy tissue to the area. A surgeon will carefully close the wound after scar removal to reduce the likelihood of additional scarring.
Scarring depends upon a number of factors, including your age, health status, surgical incision type and medical history of scarring--for example, if you have developed keloid or hypertrophic scars as a result of other cuts or wounds. Because scarring differs from person to person, it may not always be possible to completely eradicate a scar's appearance, according to the University of Virginia Health System.
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- er1 image by Andrey Rakhmatullin from Fotolia.com