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Minimizing Surgery Scars

July 15th, 2013

Anytime the skin is cut, a scar will form to close the wound, so scars are inevitable following most surgeries.   Emergency surgery will unfortunately leave scars that are usually more obvious, due to having to react quickly to save a life.   The trade-off is obvious.   Plastic surgeons have considerable training in this regard.   Elective cosmetic surgery does allow time for planning, so the telltale surgery scars are often minimized by the advantage of careful incision placement.   This planning allows for specific design of scar placement and the application of technologies that contribute to reducing the appearance of most scars.    

I intentionally place any visible scars in such a way that they are either easily covered by the smallest bathing suit a patient is likely to wear or able to be concealed with makeup and/or hairstyle.   Elegant surgical design is possible when all these things are taken into consideration.   Having the time and experience in making preparations for the surgical plan offers the best opportunity to minimize noticeable scars following surgery.

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Sun Exposure on New Scars

July 8th, 2013

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.

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