Many patients hesitate to pursue plastic surgery because they worry their chosen procedure may leave them with noticeable scars. While scars are a natural part of your body’s healing process, you may feel they detract from your appearance.
Experienced plastic surgeons like Dr. Jeffrey Schmidt will take care to make incisions for procedures like a facelift in discreet areas, concealing them within your facial creases and hairline so they will heal less visibly. Dr. Schmidt and his team will also provide you with detailed post-surgical instructions designed to help you heal more quickly, with fewer risks of complications. If you are still worried about potential scarring after a plastic surgery procedure, continue reading to learn more about what to expect and how to minimize it.
How Does Your Body Heal Wounds?
Understanding how your body heals is an essential part of having realistic expectations for your surgical outcomes. In the first few days of recovering from surgery, your incision sites will be swollen, red, and sore. These side effects are due to your body’s inflammatory response, which is normal and is the initial stage of healing. During this early phase, follow your post-surgical recommendations for keeping your incisions clean to prevent infection.
Over the following weeks, your skin will produce more collagen around the surgical sites to heal the wounds. Swelling, though partly resolved at this point in time, can cause new scars to appear more prominent or lumpy. As you continue recovering, you should notice your scars gradually shrinking and fading while your skin remodels itself from within.
Tips for Reducing Post-Surgical Scarring
Due to factors such as age, skin quality, and genetics, it can be challenging to predict how a surgical scar’s appearance may evolve as your incision continues healing. Here are Dr. Schmidt’s top tips to minimize the risks of scarring and speed up your recovery process.
1. Eat a Healthy, Balanced Diet
A protein-rich diet – including lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, and soy – can contribute to healthy wound healing. If you are worried about nutritional deficiencies, you can consider adding a daily multivitamin along with vitamin C and zinc supplements to your diet in the weeks before and after your surgery.
2. Use Scar Gel
Dr. Schmidt recommends BioCorneum scar gel, which is a silicone-based gel that helps reduce the appearance of scars. It forms a protective barrier over the incision site, allowing it to heal properly and minimizing the risk of abnormal scar formation. Apply a thin layer of the gel to the scar twice a day, following the instructions provided by your surgeon.
3. Avoid Sun Exposure
UV rays can damage your skin, making scars appear darker and more noticeable. Always apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher over the aforementioned scar gel, particularly before spending 30 minutes or more outside, and take additional steps to protect yourself by wearing a broad-brimmed hat and staying in the shade.
4. Do Not use nicotine products
Smoking cigarettes, vaping, or using nicotine products of any kind is one of the worst things you can do for your overall health. Cigarettes contain hundreds of toxic chemicals that cause organ and tissue damage. As it relates to the post-treatment setting, nicotine use impairs circulation, preventing nutrients and oxygen vital to healing from reaching the treated areas.
Gently massaging the scar tissue can help improve blood circulation and break down scar tissue adhesions, leading to a smoother and less noticeable scar. Start massaging the scar once the incision has fully closed and there are no open wounds. Use a gentle, circular motion with your fingertips and apply mild pressure. You can use a fragrance-free lotion or oil to lubricate the skin during the massage. Aim to massage the scar for about 5-10 minutes, two to three times a day.
In some cases, your surgeon may recommend injections to further improve the appearance of the scar. A combination of medications, including a dilute steroid, can be injected into the scar tissue to reduce inflammation and promote collagen remodeling. These injections are typically performed by a qualified healthcare professional and may require multiple sessions for optimal results. Your surgeon will assess your scar and determine if this treatment is suitable for you.
Speak to Denver’s Leading Plastic Surgeon
As a double board-certified cosmetic and reconstructive facial plastic surgeon, Dr. Schmidt creates meticulous surgical plans for each patient, including determining the most inconspicuous places to make incisions. He will review the details of your chosen surgery with you to ensure you know each incision’s exact location beforehand. That way, you can go into your procedure educated about what lies ahead and with confidence in your anticipated results.
Remember, scarring is one of many variables to consider when planning an elective procedure to improve your appearance and self-esteem. A detailed consultation with Dr. Schmidt can help you determine if you are a suitable candidate for plastic surgery and make an informed decision about how you’d like to proceed. Schedule your confidential consultation today to learn more.