Scarring After Surgery

The Complete Guide

Scarring Factors

Scarring after surgery is unavoidable. All surgery that involves cutting through multiple layers of skin will result in a scar. A skilled surgeon will try to minimise the size and appearance of the scar with appropriate surgical techniques. However, the degree of scarring is mostly a result of factors outside of the patients control.

AGE

As we age, our skin loses collagen and elastin which causes a loss of volume. This is made worse by accumulative lifestyle factors such as sun damage, environmental exposure, and smoking.

COMPLEXION

Some complexions are more likely to scar than others. Darker skin tones are more prone to keloid or hypertrophic scars. However, scarring may be more noticeable on fairer skinned individuals.

SURGICAL INCISION

It goes without saying a small incision will leave a small scar, while a large incision will leave a large scar. The longer it takes your incisions to heal, the greater chance for scarring.

GENETICS

Sometimes healing can come down to genetics and your own body. Some people heal faster than others, while others may experience delayed healing.

Scarring After Surgery Timeline

12 hours – 5 days: Inflammatory Phase

This stage of healing begins about 12 hours after surgery and continues for approximately 5 days. During this phase the body releases blood and other products to help close the wound.

1 day – 7 days: Proliferation Phase

During this stage the skin prepares to create the scaffolding upon which the more permanent scar tissue will be built.

2 weeks – 1 year: Maturation Phase

The body works hard to lay the collagen to reconfigure the scar. After 2 months the scar may still have a reddish, raised appearance. After time, even the most thickened red or purple scars will become pale and flat.

It is important to note that scars take 9-12 months to complete the healing phase and start to turn white.

 

Preventing Scars

  • Smoking: smoking increases your risk of scars because it delays healing by restricting blood flow. If you are a smoker and undergoing an elective cosmetic procedure, many surgeons will refuse to operate. We recommend no smoking for eight weeks prior and eight weeks after your operation.
  • Drinking: Alcohol dehydrates the skin and body.
  • Nutrition: Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in proteins. Protein is essential to a quick recovery. Protein can include meat, seafood, dairy, and soy products.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water. Limit tea and coffee which act as a diuretic and may dehydrate you.
  • Weight: The fat under your skin interfere with surgical wound closure after the operation.
  • Rest: Follow your post-operative instructions. Do not go back to activity sooner than recommended.
  • Identifying Infection: An infection can lead to scarring due to a delay in wound healing. Notify the clinic if you experience any red, heat, swelling, or pain around your incisions.
  • Chronic Illness: Certain illnesses can delay wound healing which results in greater scarring. Chronic illnesses should be well-controlled after surgery.
  • Stress on the Incisions: This comes back to following the post-operative instructions. Do not lift, bend, stretch or put tension on your incisions.
  • Sun Exposure: Avoid sun exposure and use appropriate SPF. The sun can cause hyper-pigmentation (darkening) of the scars.

Treatments for Scarring

Healite LED Light Therapy

A scar treatment used to improve and accelerate wound healing responses within the body by stimulating cellular regeneration. Healite has been clinically tested and demonstrated an increase in healing by half the time.

🕒 First treatment within 7 days of surgery, twice weekly after surgery. This can be adjusted to once weekly if required. 4 – 8 treatments are recommended for best results.

Morpheus8 RF Microneedling

The Morpheus8 provides total skin rejuvenation by rebuilding the body’s natural collagen by utilising the combination of microneedling, radio frequency, and blue & red LED light. This will improve the skin tone, quality, and texture which will reduce the appearance of scars.

🕒 First treatment around 3 months after surgery. 4 – 6 treatments are recommended for best results.

For more in-depth scar revision plans, please book a consultation with our Dermal Therapist to devise a personalised plan for your specific concerns.

Recommended Scar Therapy Timeline

0 – 6 WEEKS

Start the Healite LED Light Therapy treatments ASAP! After surgery, patients will usually be given a special tape called MICROPORE. This tape should be used after the last scheduled dressing change appointment. It is important to keep the incisions taped until six weeks post-operatively to prevent infection and help support the surgical incision – which will reduce scarring.

6 WEEKS – 3 MONTHS

  • For larger incisions, we recommend a silicone tape. This tape is reusable and can be worn continuously for two weeks at a time. Use continuously for three months. This is particularly important for patients who have had a breast lift or a procedure with a larger surgical incision. Not only will it help scarring, but it will help support the areola and prevent re-stretching.
  • For smaller incisions, we recommend Strataderm Scar Gel. We recommend this product for patients who have had a straight-forward breast augmentation or patients who are unable to use a silicone tape.

3 MONTHS – 1 YEAR

Start Morpheus8 RF Microneedling. Use a good quality moisturiser over the incisions to keep the skin hydrated (we do not recommend bio oil). Avoid sun exposure. It will take approximately one year for the scars to fully heal and fade.

INFORMATION ON THIS SITE IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE