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?”
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 is inexpensive, easy to apply, and available over-the-counter or on Amazon.com.
“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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
Ready to talk with a doctor? Find one on RealSelf.