Planning a procedure? Your to-do list probably looks like this: Getting time off and thinking about what you need to recover. One item to consider that might not top your list, but is still important? Scars.

“I don’t want to lift my arms when I have a bathing suit on and see a scar due to a breast lift incision,” wrote one woman in this doctor Q&A on RealSelf. “Will the scar be visible? Have you ever heard anyone complain about this?”

She’s not the only one. Scarring is a top area of concern for many people, especially after cosmetic surgeries like tummy tucks, breast lifts and mommy makeovers

To help, we asked three doctors on RealSelf what they use to prevent and treat post-op scarring. While these methods might not prevent all scarring, they can certainly help minimize the appearance of scars as you heal. 


Vitamin E

Vitamin E is inexpensive, easy to apply, and available over-the-counter or on

“We tell all of our patients to use Vitamin E initially,” says Dr. Andrew Miller, a facial plastic surgeon in Edison, New Jersey. “The vitamins are very inexpensive, and you can break open a gel cap, squeeze out the Vitamin E, and massage it into the scar. It helps make scar tissue softer and more supple.”


Related: How soon after surgery can I start scar treatment?



Many doctors on RealSelf recommend Biocorneum, a silicone gel available through doctors’ offices. 

“It is easy to use and well-tolerated without minimal adverse effects,” says Dr. Vishnu Rumalla, a Dallas plastic surgeon. “We recommend the two-bottle system of first the preparation with hydrocortisone, followed by the product with medical silicone and sunscreen. The two-bottle system costs the consumer a little over $100 and for a breast augmentation could last several months. For a tummy tuck it would last six weeks and additional product may be required.”


Related: Can I use Biocorneum for my tummy tuck scar?


Silicone sheets

Silicone sheets, like embrace, are another scar-therapy option, and also available on Dr. Miller uses them if additional scar therapy is necessary.

Other brands, like ScarAway, are also silicone scar sheet options easily available at drugstores and online. With these sheets, you simply apply to the scar you want treated. ScarAway says that scars may feel softer in a few days, and start to fade in a few weeks.

“If the scar is getting a little thicker, we tell the patient to buy some silicone sheets that can be taped over the scar,” he says. “However, with good massage and vitamin E, this is usually unnecessary.”


Related: Has anyone used embrace scar therapy?



All doctors emphasized the importance of sunscreen. “We tell patients to use sunblock because the sun will make an incision redder for longer,” says Dr. Miller.

Dr. Stanley Castor, a plastic surgeon in Tampa, Florida, likes Biocorneum for that very reason — it also includes SPF 30 to protect scars from sun damage during the healing process. 


Related: Experts share their favorite sunscreens at every price. 


Help for old scars

If you do get a scar, scar revision is an option. It is possible to treat older scars, even those that go back a decade.

Scar revision options include surgery and non-surgical options, including injectable fillers for concave scars, lasers, dermabrasionchemical peels, and tattooing over the scars.


Ready to talk with a doctor? Find one on RealSelf.