Sun Exposure on New Scars

All surgery leaves a scar, including cosmetic surgery. However, cosmetic surgery scars are designed to be less visible. Most of us have either had or observed minor injuries or a scrape at one time or another.  If you recall how the scar on a skinned knee or elbow changes over time, you might remember that the process requires several months to mature or fade. It is important to keep new scars protected from the sun. Permanent pigmentation is likely to occur as a result of sun exposure.

Scars on the face mature quicker than scars on the back. A freshly healed scar looks pink or red and feels hard.  This is the normal appearance and feel of scar tissue within the first six weeks of surgery. New collagen that is deposited by healing cells, feels hard to the touch.  In addition, the process of healing requires increased blood flow.  The large numbers of capillaries make the new scar look red.  Scar maturation or healing is the process by which your body changes (remodels) the collagen and the capillaries in the scar.

Fortunately this process usually cycles through to completion and results with a soft scar that is barely visible. Think of scars being a kind of Thanksgiving turkey “doneness” indicator.  When the timer pops up, the turkey is done. When your scars are soft and no longer pink, you have an indication that your internal healing is also complete. In both cases it can  take longer than you hope! Continued sun protection and the use of sunscreen remain to play an important role for providing protection from the harmful effects of sun exposure. These precautions have also been shown to be critical for minimizing pre-mature aging.   So if you must sport a tan, make it one that you can find in a bottle, because your skin will surely thank you.

One Response to “Sun Exposure on New Scars”

  1. Top Ten Don'ts Before Cosmetic Surgery » Ralph Bashioum MD Says:

    […] minimize scars by not tanning because sun or artificial tanning may cause discoloration, making scars become more […]

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