What Top Plastic Surgeons Recommend for ‘scar-less’ surgery
Scar today, gone tomorrow? we wish, don’t we?
Scars are a fact of life. No matter how careful you are, some, like the scars left behind from surgery, are unavoidable. Even the most skilled surgeon will tell you that a small, well-placed scar is an inevitable trade-off for a procedure you’ve been contemplating for years or one that you didn’t get to choose—it is the body’s natural way to heal an open wound, after all—but sporting a new scar can still be a tough pill to swallow.
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Because gaining a new scar is the downside to planned procedures and accidental injuries alike, we asked Dr Tan Ying Chien, consultant plastic & reconstructive surgeon at SW1 Clinic in Singapore to weigh in on the best ways to fade scars you’ve had for years, how to limit new ones from forming and how to reduce their appearance once they surface. Some of their answers may surprise you.
According to Dr Tan, your diet plays a huge role in how your body will swell, heal and scar post-surgery. He explains that a diet rich in glucosamine, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid will minimize bruising, swelling and excess bleeding after surgery, making the healing process easier while also limiting scarring.
Recent studies have also shed promising light on the healing and recovery or post-surgical scars. Dr Low Chai Ling, founder of SW1 Clinic who specializes in lasers and non-invasive aesthetics says that while the specific course of treatment depends on each scar’s individual appearance, lasers are a great option to fade the appearance of past scars. “For hypertrophic (raised) scars, I recommend a series of erbium-YAG fractional laser resurfacing treatments.” In fact, Dr Low’s clinic has two scar programs designed specially for surgical scar as the facility provides both cosmetic surgery as well as lasers and non-invasive aesthetics. Scar Prevention program was designed for post-surgical patients in the immediate post-operative period. This is your treatment du jour after any cosmetic procedure to give you the best chance of healing. Scar Intervention program is for older surgical scars (6 months onwards) which may have healed in a less-than-ideal fashion. When it comes to scars, early intervention is key.
Finally, in special cases and for more prominent, robust scars, Dr. Tan says that excising the old scar (this involves cutting out the scar tissue and then restitching the incision) followed by a combination of silicone therapy and a fractional laser usually delivers the best results. Dr. Low agrees, explaining that depending on the location, severity and type of scar, sophisticated laser technology like SmartX, a fractional CO2 and Vbeam, a pulsed dye laser, works well to flatten and camouflage unsightly scars.
If your scar is fairly new, Dr. Low says to try massaging the area daily starting five days after a facial, breast or body surgery to help improve its texture. Scar massage is a method of manually softening and flattening scars by breaking up the tissue. Older scar tissue may benefit from an intralesional injection of corticosteroid to soften and flatten the tissue.
More and more silicone scar treatments are beginning to surface, and according to Dr Tan, these options work well to lessen the appearance of unsightly scars. He explains that these usually come in gel formulas or sheets, which wear like a Band-Aid over the scar and work by creating a water barrier over the skin, allowing for increased hydration for the most superficial layer of the skin, while also preventing the entrance of bacteria. “On a more scientific note, they can also create an electroneutral charge barrier, which rejects negative charged ions from entering the scar (these can create free radicals that can further scarring and inflammation).”
Silicone treatments are not one-size-fits-all. “The size, type and maturity of the particular scar in question will dictate the best option for you,” says Dr. Tan, adding that if a scar is new, he recommends using bioCorneium—an FDA-approved silicone gel designed to minimize scarring by hydrating and protecting the area as it matures—twice daily for six weeks. Two other scar-reducing options we’re loving: Mederma Quick Dry Oil ($20) and ScarAway Silicone Scar Sheets ($21).
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