Preventing and Minimising Scar Damage
Please feel free to discuss your concerns about potential scarring with your surgeon and follow our tips below in order to help prevent unnecessary scarring. For your information, we have also highlighted leading risk factors that may exist for scarring.
Prevention Tips and Risk Factors for Scarring
Do what you can to prevent scars by focusing on factors that you can control. For example:
- Don’t smoke: Smoking can increase your risk of scarring and may also slows your healing. It’s important to quit smoking completely in the fortnight prior to surgery and it’s highly recommended not to smoke at all after your surgery.
- Stay hydrated: When you don’t take in enough fluids, your body can become dehydrated, raising your risk of electrolyte imbalances and, in severe cases, putting you at risk of heart damage. During the pre and post-procedure phase, it’s advisable to drink 6-8 glasses of water every day. If your body is adequately hydrated, your urine should be light in colour, so check to monitor your hydration levels. Water, herbal tea and diluted fresh fruit juice can be healthy options.
- Limit your alcohol intake: Alcohol can dehydrate your skin and your body, so you should avoid alcohol and rather drink lots of water and non-caffeinated beverages.
- Eat well: A nutritionally-balanced diet high in protein can help your skin to heal with minimal scarring. You should eat food rich in protein, such as chicken, fish, beef, ostrich, pork, seafood and dairy products. If you are a vegetarian, you should ensure that you increase your intake of soy products.
- Rest well: Follow your surgeon’s instruction and rest as advised to ensure proper wound healing. If you move too much too soon, you could damage your wound and delay the healing process, raising your risk of unsightly and unnecessary scarring.
- Proper wound care: Follow your surgeon’s advice regarding wound care in order to prevent scars. Measures to prevent infection could aid your recovery time and could help your skin to heal without adverse scarring.
- Watch out for infection: Keep an eye on your wound and know what it should look like in order to know if it’s becoming infected. Your surgeon will educate you about signs of infection and assist you if needed. Avoiding infection can be essential in minimising scar damage.
Educate yourself about common risk factors that could raise your chances of scarring following plastic surgery or cosmetic surgery. These may be factors beyond your control but take action where possible to limit your risks:
- Manage your weight: Being overweight could impact the size of your incision and your body’s healing process. If you are overweight, you may scar more than you would if you were at a healthy weight. Discuss weight-loss options with your Precision Aesthetics surgeon if you need assistance.
- Ageing skin: The older we get, the less elastic our skin can become and the thinner it may get. Along with sun damage, other environmental factors and the effects of smoking and alcohol, our skin may not heal as quickly or as well as it used to. The older you are, the more at risk of scarring you may become.
- Your race and complexion: Fair-skinned people may have more obvious skin imperfections, like scarring, possibly making them more visible than dark-skinned people. Darker-skinned patients can be more prone to keloid scars, which may be caused by an overgrowth of scar tissue around a wound.
- Genetics: Your family’s tendency to scar badly may affect you, so if someone in your immediate family tends to scar heavily, chances are that you will too. On the upside, if you are genetically blessed with skin that heals quickly and effectively, you may enjoy minimal scarring.
- Incision size: The larger your surgical incision, the more likely you are to develop a scar. A deep and long incision may require a longer healing process than a small incision and is logically likely to scar more.
- Chronic illnesses: Diseases such as diabetes can impact the body’s ability to heal, slowing down the healing process and putting you more at risk of infection. It’s important to discuss chronic health conditions with your Precision Aesthetics surgeon in order to ensure that your recovery period can be as safe and as effective as possible, reducing the chance of anything going wrong, and in turn stemming your risk of scarring.
- Wound damage: If you lift, bend or stretch your wound unnecessarily, you may be likely to exert pressure on your incision and damage your wound. This could delay the healing process and lead to scarring.
- Sun exposure: Sun damage could affect new skin and cause scarring. It’s important to avoid sun exposure and also know what sun protection factor is ideal for your skin, so discuss these options with your Precision Aesthetics surgeon.