An inevitable part of plastic surgery, scarring is the body’s response as it heals from the surgical incision. Any plastic surgeon worth his salt will tell you that scars are largely unavoidable (of course, the best surgeons are careful to conceal incisions in inconspicuous places). When researching scarring after plastic surgery, it is important to read about the factors that affect how noticeably a patient will scar, as well as certain techniques patients should follow to minimize scarring. Dr. Joseph Michaels, a plastic surgeon serving Rockville and the surrounding Maryland areas, explains more here.
Scarring Risk Factors
Everyone scars differently, depending on certain factors. Genetics is king when it comes to scarring. If you have had previous surgery and you have had poor scarring, you may have a genetic predisposition to poor scarring. Age is a big factor, as the skin thins and loses elasticity with age. Older patients do not heal as quickly or well as younger patients. Skin tone and complexion is another factor: dark skin tones tend to develop darker scars, whereas fairer skin tones typically have less noticeable scarring. The location of the incisions also may play a factor in how well you heal. Some anatomic areas heal better than other.
Minimizing Scarring after Plastic Surgery
In spite of these risk factors, there are things within a patient’s control that affect how well their wound heals and the severity of their scarring. Dr. Michaels encourages patients to focus on these factors and take the appropriate steps:
- Do not smoke. Smoking can prevent the wound from healing and lead to large, noticeable scarring. In fact, Dr. Michaels asks all patients to stop smoking a minimum of two weeks before surgery.
- Avoid the sun. Surgical wounds and new scars should be protected from the sun’s harmful rays with sunscreen and possibly clothing.
- Get the proper nutrition. Following a balanced diet of healthy foods helps the skin heal properly. Sources of protein (e.g., chicken, pork, fish, dairy products) are particularly important.
- Care for the healing incision. Dr. Michaels provides detailed instructions for caring for the healing incision and preventing infection and other complications. This includes taking medication and applying ointments or other topical products.
- Do not pick at scabs. No matter how tempting it may be, avoid picking at the scab that protects the healing wound. It will fall off when it is ready.
Contact Dr. Joseph Michaels
If you have additional questions about scarring after plastic surgery, Dr. Michaels is here to help. Please call Michaels Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery today. You can reach our Bethesda office at (301) 468-5991 or our Fairfax office at (703) 957-8610.