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Post-Breast Surgery Scar Care: How to Optimize Scar Healing
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Following breast surgery, it is a given that there will be a recuperation process that will take a variable period to get through. It is also a given that there will be some scarring—even if it is relatively minimal, as is the case with breast augmentation. Though the scars can be hidden most of the time with clothing, including gowns and bathing suits, there are those times where they will have nowhere to hide.
While scar care isn’t always considered the most critical aspect of your breast surgery or recovery from it, it is still very important to the overall appearance and outcome. A relatively fine, inconspicuous scar is far better than a raised, thick, broad, and very noticeable scar—whether you had a breast augmentation, a breast lift or breast reduction.
What Can You Do to Improve Your Scarring Process?
There are several key components that can maximize the healing of your scars.
This is where you can make a difference!
If your plastic surgeon provides you with recommendations and guidance, you should strongly consider following them to maximize the aesthetic outcome.
For wound healing to occur properly, you need to have been in a good nutritional state. A deficiency of certain amino acids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and calories can impact the healing process, resulting in a more prolonged time to heal or healing with less wound strength. Either one can result in wider, less desirable scars. Vegetarians, vegans and the like are at higher risk for this impaired healing.
Wear a Supportive Bra
A supportive bra can help take tension off the incision(s), allowing for narrower scars—all else being equal. It can also help protect against the effects of gravity, especially as regards breast lifts and reductions.
If You Are a Smoker – Stop!
Smoking and nicotine, in particular, will impair wound healing. It acts by causing vasoconstriction (narrowing the diameter of blood vessels) of the blood vessels that bring oxygen and nutrients to the tissues, resulting in less blood flow. Consequently, there is less oxygen and nutrients going to the tissues, which are needed for proper healing and tissue health. Clinical effects of this include delayed healing, wider scars, wound separation, infection and tissue necrosis (dead tissue).
To minimize risks, it is generally recommended to stop smoking and vaping from one month before surgery until one month after surgery. Even just one cigarette at the wrong time can have impactful consequences. Secondary smoke also is detrimental and must be avoided.
Minimize Sun Exposure
Sunlight, specifically ultraviolet rays, can cause damage to the healing of non-mature scars. Permanent pigmentation changes can develop, especially in those individuals with darker complexions. Hyperpigmentation, or darkening of the scar, will make scars more noticeable. Therefore, it is recommended to protect your scars from sun exposure for at least nine months following your breast surgery. The same is true regarding the usage of tanning booths.
It is important for you to know that you don’t need to go topless for your breasts to get exposed to the sun. The reason is that many clothes, such as T-shirts and bikini tops, do not prevent the sun from penetrating through them. In fact, some T-shirts only have an SPF factor of two to three. That is virtually no protection at all.
Use High-SPF Sunscreens
If you plan to spend some time outdoors in the sun and are wearing light clothing, a higher SPF sunscreen can protect your scars from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. An SPF of 45 or higher would be prudent, especially in the summer.
There are numerous products that are marketed to help scar healing though few have any scientific evidence to support their claims. There are several medical-grade silicone products that can be effective in maximizing the aesthetic appearance of scars when used properly. However, there are also many wannabes that are just taking your money and have little or no provable effect. Topical vitamin E can also be effective.
In the end, however, you should follow the recommendations made by your plastic surgeon.
Interested in Learning More?
Do you have any questions about breast or other forms of cosmetic surgery? If so, give us a call today at (480) 451-3000 or fill out our online contact form.