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Scarring After Surgery

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 21 Nov 2014 | comments*Discuss
Scarring Surgery Procedure Treatments

Scarring after surgery is the body’s way of healing itself and will occur when the top layer of skin is damaged. The more serious the damage to the skin, the more severe the scarring will be. After invasive surgery, such as cosmetic and plastic surgery, or after surgical operations such as heart operations, there will be a degree of scarring to the skin. Scars will never completely be eliminated, however, there are a number of ways to make them seem less visible.

How Scars Occur

Scars are comprised of fibrous tissue; when the skin is damaged this tissue will form over the wound to repair the cut. Scar tissue is different from the actual skin that it covers, hair and sweat glands will not form on the scar and the scar tissue is not as resistant to ultra violet radiation. When the scars are exposed to the sun they will tan easily and become more visible.

Factors that Determine Degrees of Scarring

In terms of how much you will scar there are a few factors that need to be taken into account. A lot of the factors will come down to age, lifestyle and genetics, and the part of the body where the scarring occurs. Scars to younger people will be more visible as the scar tends to heal more robustly, with older people scars will not be as visible. With genetics the severity of the scar simply comes down to your DNA, skin type and skin tone. If you are a smoker or are a sun worshipper then your scar will also be more visible.

In terms of scarring after surgery then scars will be less visible if the operation has been on a part of the body with loose skin. Breast surgery will leave less scarring than an operation to parts of the body where the skin is thin. You should also follow your surgeon’s strict orders on the best ways to help scarring heal after a surgery. If the surgeon has told you to wear protective padding for so many weeks after surgery, then this should be followed to the letter.

Scarring Treatments

There are procedures that can be used to minimise scarring after surgery or to help subdue scars that have occurred naturally or through injury, this is sometimes known as scar revision. If a surgeon feels that the scar can be treated then the procedure will be performed under local anaesthesia and any stitches used will be removed within six to ten days, the earlier the better if the scar revision is to the face.

Common Types of Scar Revision

  • Burn Scars
  • Acne scars
  • Keloids – thick scars that grow around the edges of wounds

Wound Healing after Surgery

Your surgeon will no doubt have given you some information on the type and severity of scarring that will occur with your intended surgery. No matter what type of operation your surgeon will try his or her best to minimise any scarring.

This will include placing stitches below the surface of the skin, holding the wound in place and taking any stress from the edges of the skin. The edges of the operated skin should always be touching naturally before the final stitches are in place. There is more chance of scarring occurring if tension below the skin pulls the edges apart.

Non Surgical Procedures

Some non-invasive or non-surgical procedures such as chemical peels, skin abrasion and laser resurfacing will also leave scarring. The amount of scarring will depend on the severity of the treatment used, or the layer of peels used in the chemical peeling.

After Surgery Care

Your surgeon or doctor will inform you of the best way to minimise scarring, this will be different for every operation but will no doubt include limiting physical exercise to stop blood pressure rising. There will also be special bandages and dressings that will help the healing process and reduce swelling.

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@Jessica - in the first instance, have you been to your GP? If it very unsightly, restricts movement or is painful or itchy, they may refer you to a dermatologist or a plastic surgeon for treatment. There are treatments in the UK, so it might mean you don't have to leave the country. Treatments such laser therapy are available here, but are not widely available on the NHS, so you will need to pay for them privately. Here is an NHS link which shows you a few options link here. I hope this helps.
TreatItAbroad - 24-Nov-14 @ 10:07 AM
Hello Do you offer Scar revision surgery. I had an operation when i was 6 weeks old on my stomach from pyloric stenosis. I now have an unsightly scar as it is attached to my abdomen and indents into my stomach and i have skin folding over the top of the scar. I would be happy to have this under LA. could you please get back to me as soon as possible
jessica - 21-Nov-14 @ 2:56 PM
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