Scars are something most of us have, whether we want them or not. Let’s dive into what scars are, and ways we can prevent them from getting worse!
The scars of life
Search ‘quotes about scars’ on the internet and, trust me, there’s a lot! Let’s first understand what the heck a scar even is.
A scar is an area of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after an injury. Scars result from the biological process of wound repair in the skin, as well as in other organs and tissues of the body. Thus, scarring is a natural part of the healing process.
To you and I a scar is usually a white line on our skin! These physical scars can come from accidents (for me, car wreck as a teenager) or for most ladies on my website, from surgery.
For the most part, scars heal. Yes, they can leave a very small mark on our bodies, but… a scar tells a story.
Sometimes though scars can be a bit more troublesome. Here’s what I mean….
Normal Scars vs. Hypertrophic scars
Normal scar formation after your breast augmentation happens like this:
The wound will create a seal within the first few hours
Redness and swelling in the first week
Natural thickening of the early scar in the first month
Gradual flattening of the scar and change in color from red to white which can take a year or two)
In the first 6 months of scar healing, if the body produces too much collagen at the site of your incision it can lead to the formation of a hypertrophic scar.
Hyper means ‘too much’ and trophic means ‘growth’
Like normal scars, hypertropic scars start off red and thick. However, a hypertrophic scar, if left alone without treatment, will never heal as fully as a normal scar and it will look thicker/wider/raised.
Some people are more prone to developing hypertrophic scars (skin type or healing tendencies) or it can be because a wound is infected or inflamed, or healing is interrupted by too much activity too soon!
Treating hypertrophic scars
Treating a hypertrophic scar early will help improve the final look of the scar. This may be especially important to you if you want your surgical scars to be less visible.
The options for treating a hypertrophic scar include:
Pressure dressing - a dressing that applies pressure directly over the scar will help weaken the scar tissue so it flattens over times
Cortisone injections - a cortcosteroid (which reduces inflammation) injected into the scar will help flatten and soften the scar
Silicone gel sheets - can be applied as soon as the scar has healed, ideally for 12 to 24 hours per day for the first few months after surgery (this is a better ‘prevention’ than treatment option!)
Surgery - if after a year a hypertrophic scar is still very raised it can be removed (cut-out) so the body has a chance to re-heal properly. If you’re prone to hypertrophic scars you risk the scar healing raised again but with good preventative measures (like silicone gel sheets) or if the reason a hypertrophic scar formed as due to infection it has a better chance of not reoccurring.
Your Board Certified plastic surgeon may recommend one or several of these treatments to help improve the appearance of a hypertrophic scar.
We can’t prevent the formation of scar tissue following an injury or surgery. We can, however, help our body to heal as best it can to minimize the visibility of scars. If you notice your surgical incision isn’t healing as well as you’d expect raise your concerns with your Board Certified surgeon ASAP! Early intervention helps to ensure scar issues are treated. If you choose any at-home options (e.g. silicone gel sheets) always run it past your surgeon first and keep them in the loop with your progress.