A scar is an area of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after an injury and are a natural and normal part of the healing process. They can occur even after the smallest injury to the skin, such as burn or cut. Most will fade over time, becoming paler and harder to see. However, they will never disappear. Many people aren’t too bothered by the appearance of their scars, particularly if they tell an interesting story about how they occurred. However, some people find that scarring causes them to feel self-conscious and this is even more likely if they are on an area of the body that is difficult to cover or hide.
If you are choosing to undergo cosmetic surgery, the scarring might be one of your primary concerns. After all, you are having the procedure to improve your confidence in your body and significant scarring could undo that effect. Many patients may also not want visible scarring because they don’t want attention drawn to the fact that they have undergone a cosmetic surgery procedure. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to minimize your risk of developing scarring following your surgery. Here’s what you need to know.
As we know, scarring is perfectly normal. However, every patient is unique and not all patients will develop the same degree of scarring following an injury or surgery. There are some factors that make someone more likely to experience significant scarring. These include:
Age: Older people are more likely to experience scarring than someone younger. The reason for this is that our natural production of collagen, which is the substance that helps to keep our skin elastic, slows down as we get older. Our skin also becomes thinner with age. These factors, combined with the effects of lifestyle choices such as smoking and tanning, mean that our skin doesn’t heal as well as it might when we are younger.
Race: Skin color also plays a part in how likely you are to scar. African-Americans have been shown to be at greater risk of forming hypertrophic and keloid scars which are overgrowths of scar tissue. Their scarring may also be discolored compared to the surrounding skin.
Characteristics of your incision: Unsurprisingly, the characteristics of your incision will affect how likely you are to scar. Larger incisions are at greater risk of scarring than smaller ones, as are those scars which are particularly long or deep and cut through multiple layers of skin and tissue.
Genetics: How quickly your skin heals will also affect your risk of scarring, and this is something that may be genetic. A slower rate of healing increases your risk of scarring. If you have parents or grandparents who scar easily, chances are you might too.
There are a number of different things that you can do to prevent or minimize your risk of scarring following a cosmetic surgery procedure. These include:
- Smoking. Smoking has been scientifically proven to slow down the rate at which our bodies heal, as well as increasing the risk of post-surgical complications.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol has been shown to dehydrate the skin as well as our body as a whole. When our bodies are dehydrated, they cannot heal themselves as quickly and this increases the likelihood of scarring.
- Nutrition. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential for a healthy body and mind. It also helps to ensure that our bodies can heal themselves if required. Experts have found that the right balance of nutrition, including an increase in the amount of protein being consumed, can be very beneficial in tackling scarring.
- Proper wound care. One of the best ways to prevent or minimize scarring is to make sure that you take proper care of your wounds after your surgery. You will be given specific information to do this, and it is essential that you follow this carefully. Reducing your risk of infection will also reduce your risk of scarring.
- Avoid putting stress on your incision. Anything that places stress on your wound – such as bending, stretching and twisting, should be avoided as these could delay healing and increase your likelihood of scarring.
- Avoid exposure to sunlight. You will be advised to keep your scar out of the sunlight as much as possible and to use sunscreen if it is unavoidable. Failing to do so could enhance your risk of developing scarring.
If you would like more advice on the best way to minimize surgery scars, please don’t hesitate to speak to our cosmetic surgery team.