Scarring is completely normal. In fact, you may not be able to see them, but estimates suggest that the vast majority of people have some sort of scar somewhere on their body. This could be the result of a common problem like acne, the result of an accident such as coming off your bike or a much more significant scar caused by a major trauma to your body.
Every scar tells a story, but that doesn’t mean that you necessarily want to have visible scarring, especially if you have undergone an essential or elective surgical procedure. Fortunately, there are things that you can to do prevent or minimize your risk of developing a scar after your surgery.
Scars are areas of thicker, more fibrous tissue that form as a part of the natural healing process. Since their color and texture may be different from normal skin, it can make some types of scar very noticeable. This is particularly true if they occur on a part of your body that isn’t easily hidden, such as your face, neck, or hands. The larger the injury you sustain, or in the case of surgery, the longer your incision is, the greater the size of your scarring is also likely to be.
Scars are a lot like stretchmarks – some people will develop them while other people won’t. However, there are some factors that make the risk of developing a scar following surgery more likely. You may have a greater chance of developing scarring following an injury or surgery if:
- You are of African or African-American descent. This is because studies have shown that patients with African-American genes are at greater risk of forming hypertrophic and keloid scarring, which are overgrowths of scar tissue.
- You are over the age of 50. Our bodies naturally produce certain proteins to keep our skin healthy, such as collagen and elastin. However, our production of these slows as we get older making the skin thinner and more susceptible to damage. It also makes it harder for the skin to heal.
- Your genes also play a large role in scarring, and if you have parents or grandparents whose skin is prone to scarring, it is likely that yours will be too.
If you are concerned about scarring following your surgery, there are things that you can do to make scarring less likely. These include:
- Giving up smoking. Smoking isn’t recommended before or after any surgical procedure as it increases the likelihood of complications. However, smoking also limits the amount of oxygen in your blood, which slows down the healing process and makes scarring more likely.
- Drinking alcohol. This will dehydrate your skin and body, affecting the effectiveness of which it can heal. The slower and more complex the healing process, the greater the risk of scarring.
- Eat well. Your surgeon will recommend that you eat a healthy, balanced diet in the days before and after your surgery which will ensure that your body is in optimal condition for your procedure. However, it will also provide your body with the right nutrition needed to heal itself.
- Look after your wound. Much of how severe a scar will be will depend on the way that you look after your wounds following surgery. Your surgeon will give you advice on how to take care of the incision sites and following these will reduce your risk of complications and scarring.
- Don’t expose your wound to the sun. Doing so could change the pigmentation of your skin and make scarring more likely.
If you are concerned about scarring, or if you have scarring and would like to talk to our cosmetic surgery team, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our office today.