Scar Management 101: A Guide to Minimizing Scars After Plastic Surgery

woman touching her scar on lower stomach (model)

It’s not surprising that virtually every patient considering plastic surgery asks about what the scars will look like before deciding whether to proceed. Scar formation is a natural part of the healing process. Even though scars are permanent, certain techniques can help them fade during the initial couple of years after your surgery.

The decision to have plastic surgery involves a tradeoff: addressing some part of your appearance that makes you self-conscious versus having scars.

How To Minimize Scarring

A skilled plastic surgeon minimizes the appearance of scars by making incisions in inconspicuous locations whenever possible. For example, facelift incisions are typically hidden in the hairline and the natural creases around the ears. For some procedures, such as a tummy tuck or other body contouring surgeries after weight loss, visible scarring is unavoidable. Here are some ways that you can reduce their visibility.

Follow Post-Op Instructions

One of the most crucial steps to minimizing scars after plastic surgery is following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions. Surgeons give patients detailed recovery plans that include instructions on how to care for incisions. Follow these instructions carefully to ensure the best possible outcome.

Prevent Infections

Keeping the area around the incision clean is essential to prevent infection. Gently clean the area with soap and water, and make sure to dry it thoroughly. Avoid scrubbing the area, as this can irritate the skin and delay healing.

Apply Silicone Gel

Topical silicone gel or sheets are excellent options for managing scars after cosmetic surgery. Silicone has been used for decades to treat scars that result from surgery, burns, or other injuries. Silicone sheets cover the incision and seal the scar, keeping it hydrated. Topical silicone gels dry quickly and form a thin sheet within 4 to 5 minutes.

Prescription-grade topical agents (such as BioCorneum®) are commonly used after surgery. Other over-the-counter topical scar treatments include corticosteroids, antihistamine creams, and anesthetic ointments, which can help heal and mature scars by reducing itchiness and discomfort.

Massage the Area

Massaging the area around your scar can help to improve blood flow and reduce scar tissue buildup. Gently massage the area in circular motions using a non-irritating moisturizer. However, it’s essential not to massage the area if your surgeon advises against it.

Avoid Sun Exposure

Sun is a scar’s natural enemy. The sun’s UV rays can cause scars to become more pronounced, so avoiding direct sunlight exposure is essential. Wear loose-fitting clothing that covers the area and use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.

Consider Nonsurgical Scar Revision Treatments

If your scar management efforts aren’t as successful as you hoped, you can try to minimize the appearance of scars with treatments such as chemical peels or laser skin resurfacing. Skin resurfacing removes the top layer of damaged skin so new, smoother skin layers can form. This allows for improvement in surface irregularities and uneven coloring, making scars less visible.

If you’re in the Columbia area and considering cosmetic plastic surgery, whether you’re from Ellicott City, Baltimore, MD, or beyond, you can request a consultation using the online form. You can also contact our two convenient offices by phone at (410) 884-4200 (Ellicott City) or (410) 751-2348 (Westminster).

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