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Scarring After Surgery

The Complete Guide

Scarring Factors

Scarring after surgery is inevitable. Your doctor will aim to minimise the size and appearance of the scar with appropriate surgical techniques. However, the degree of scarring is primarily influenced by factors outside of your and your doctor’s control, such as age, complexion, genetics and lifestyle. There are various steps you can take before and after your surgery to help minimise the appearance of your surgical scars.


Scarring can vary across different age groups. Contrary to popular belief, younger skin can sometimes scar worse, compared to an older skin, primarily because the skin is firmer, due to higher collagen and elastin levels, which can create increased tension along the suture line.

An older skin may tend to scar more favourably than younger skin, primarily because it is less taut, resulting in reduced tension on the wound. However, ageing skin can often experience compromised circulation, which may contribute to delayed wound healing.

Surgical Incision

The length of your surgical incision is a key factor in determining the appearance of your scar. A shorter incision will naturally leave a shorter scar, while a longer incision will lead to a longer scar. This is particularly relevant for individuals undergoing cosmetic surgery procedures that involve mastopexy or removal and replacement of implants, as these procedures often require longer incisions.

The specific type of surgical incision you receive will dictate the most suitable post-surgery treatment for scar management.

Complexion & Genetics

Complexion and genetic factors can significantly influence the type of scars that may develop after surgery. Some complexions are more predisposed to scarring than others.

Darker Skin Tones: Individuals with darker skin tones are at a higher risk of developing pigmentation issues, keloid, or hypertrophic scars. These scars are often more raised and prominent. Keloid scars, in particular, can extend beyond the initial wound area.

Fair Skin Tones: Individuals with fairer skin tones, are more likely to experience vascular scarring, which manifests as redness or purple discolouration in the scar tissue. This redness can make scars more noticeable, particularly on lighter skin.

The type of scarring that develops will determine the appropriate treatment plan following surgery.

Lifestyle factors

Your healing process can be significantly influenced by lifestyle choices like smoking, alcohol consumption, illicit drug use, and excessive sun exposure. These factors can impair blood flow, reduce circulation, increase risk of infection, and ultimately lead to delays in wound healing, resulting in poor scar formation.

Scarring After Surgery Timeline

Time and care generally heal all wounds. Scars tend to look worse two to three months after surgery and will take approximately 12-24 months to fully heal or fade following cosmetic surgery.

12 hours – Seven days: Inflammatory Phase

The initial phase of healing begins approximately 12 hours following surgery and extends for approximately seven days. Within this stage, the body releases growth factors and white blood cells and increases blood flow, to assist in closing the wound and lays the foundation for the next phase.

Day Seven – 21 days: Proliferation Phase

During this stage, the skin prepares itself to create the scaffold upon which long-lasting scar tissue will form. This involves activation of fibroblasts and the initiation of angiogenesis.

Three weeks – one year: Maturation & Remodelling Phase

From week three, the body enters the remodelling phase, working to rebuild collagen and reshape scar tissue. In the initial three months, the scar may still appear reddish and raised. However, over time, even the most prominently thickened, red, or purple scars will slowly fade and become more flat.

This phase is the ideal time to begin scar therapy treatments, which can expedite the healing process and further reduce the visibility of your scars.

Preventing Scarring

There are several measures you can take pre and post surgery to accelerate the healing of your surgical incisions and reduce the appearance of your scars.

  • Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of scarring by limiting blood flow, which can lead to delayed healing. If you smoke and plan to undergo elective cosmetic surgery, your doctor may decline to operate. We strongly recommend refraining from smoking for at least six weeks before and after your cosmetic procedure.
  • Drinking: Alcohol consumption can dehydrate the body, potentially causing poor circulation and slower wound healing. We recommend no alcohol for at least one week before and one week after surgery.
  • Nutrition: Consume a balanced, healthy diet rich in proteins, which are considered crucial for a speedy recovery. Sources of protein include meat, seafood, dairy, and soy products.
  • Hydration: Ensure you stay well-hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Limit your intake of tea and coffee, which can act as diuretics and lead to dehydration.
  • Weight: It is recommended to be within 5kg of your ideal weight before undergoing cosmetic surgery. Weight gain after the surgery can put additional stress on your surgical scars.
  • Rest: Follow your post-operative instructions. Avoid any form of exercise until the sixth week or until you receive clearance from your doctor.
  • Identifying Infection: Infections can lead to scarring by delaying wound healing. If you notice redness, heat, swelling, or pain around your incisions, promptly notify the clinic.
  • Chronic Illness: Certain chronic illnesses can slow down wound healing and increase scarring. It’s important to have these conditions well-controlled before surgery.
  • Stress on the Incisions: Adhering to post-operative instructions is essential to prevent stress on your incisions. Avoid lifting, bending, stretching, or putting tension on the incisions, and make sure to wear your recommended post-operative dressings and bras to minimise tension.
  • Sun Exposure: Avoid sun exposure on the breasts for the first three months. Protect your incisions from sun exposure by using appropriate SPF. Sunlight can lead to hyperpigmentation (darkening) of scars.
  • Treatments: There are several treatments and products you can begin using following your surgery to assist with minimising the appearance of your scarring.

Treatments For Scarring

There are several treatments that can be performed pre and post-surgery to help expedite the healing process and minimise the appearance of surgical scarring. Our most recommended treatments are Morpheus8 & Exion microneedling RF, Dermapen microneedling, Lumecca IPL and Healite II LED Light Therapy.

The team at Inigo Cosmetic have developed their own scar revision protocols utilising various modalities to achieve optimal results.


Healite II LED Light Therapy

Healite is used pre and post-surgery to assist with wound healing as it aims to stimulate cellular regeneration. Healite helps to minimise the risk of infection, improve the appearance of scarring, reduce inflammation, decrease swelling, bruising, and pain.

The first treatment is recommended three days before surgery and then twice weekly after surgery. This can be adjusted to once weekly if required and the recommended treatment protocol is four to eight treatments.

Single session Healite | $75


Dermapen Microneedling

Dermapen is a microneedling device that is designed to revise and remodel scar  tissue. With its skin needling technology, dermapen triggers a natural healing response that encourages cell regeneration and the formation of new tissues, including collagen.

The first treatment is recommended three to six months after surgery, and the recommended treatment protocol is  three to six treatments, four to six weeks apart.

Single session of Dermapen | $299


Morpheus8 & Exion RF Microneedling

The Morpheus8 & Exion microneedling RF device aims to stimulate collagen and elastin formation, addressing the tone, quality, and texture of the skin. This assists in the remodelling of scars.

The first treatment is recommended from three to six months after surgery, and the recommended treatment protocol is three to six treatments, four to six weeks apart.

Single Morpheus8 / Exion for surgical scars | $599



Lumecca IPL

Lumecca utilises intense pulsed light (IPL) to target capillary and pigment activity within the scar. With regular treatments, the appearance of your surgical scar may improve.

The first treatment is recommended from three to six months after surgery, and the recommended treatment protoocol is three to six treatments, four to six weeks apart.

Single session of Lumecca IPL for surgical scars | $299


Products For Scarring

There are several products available to assist with minimising the appearance of your scarring post-surgery. You can start using Super Serum Advance+ from six weeks as well as your silicone gel or tape.

iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+

The Super Serum Advance+ is a formula that combines a 15% concentration of next generation L-Ascorbic Acid with a bioidentical Copper Tripeptide growth factor to address hypertrophic (raised) scar tissue and hyperpigmentation of scars.

Scar Essentials Kit

Our Inigo Cosmetic Scar Essentials kit includes Super Serum Advance+, Sheald Recovery, silicone gel (Strataderm & Stratamed) or silicone tape.

Silicone Gel

For smaller incisions, Strataderm Scar Gel is available. This product is for patients who have had a straight-forward breast augmentation or patients who are unable to use silicone tape. Speak with your doctor about the recommended use of this product.

Silicone Tape

For larger incisions, silicone tape is available. This tape is reusable and can be worn for up to one week 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 as it aims to assist in scar formation as well as reduce tension on the wounds. Speak with your doctor about the recommended use of this product.