Scarring: 12 Ways To Minimise or Prevent It After Plastic Surgery

One of the biggest concerns of many patients following plastic surgery is scarring. The making of surgical incisions will leave you with scars. Fortunately, though, these scars are not always permanent. And there are some things that you can do to minimise their appearance or even prevent them entirely.

It should also be noted that after the surgery, you should make sure to follow the aftercare instructions of your surgeon. It will ensure good incision care while preventing complications like infections or wound dehiscence, which can cause bad scarring.

What Is Scarring?

Scarring is a part of the body’s natural healing process. It’s a mark that’s left on the skin following a traumatic injury or surgery. According to Hopkins Medicine, besides being cut, scarring is a result of the skin being “crushed or otherwise damaged.”

Following the damage to the skin, the body produces collagen (elastin isn’t produced), which strengthens the skin and makes it resilient. This goes on for several months, for the duration of which the scar is raised. Eventually, the collagen breaks down, and the raised bump starts to settle down.

However, because of the structural differences of the scar tissue from the normal, healthy tissue, it can look visibly different, especially if it’s large in size. According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association, how the scar looks depends on “how well the wound heals.”

Even though a scar is permanent, it will eventually fade over time. This can take months to years. However, for that, there are a few things that you need to do to make sure that you don’t end up with bad scarring. Also, it should be noted that the skill of the surgeon can also have an impact on scarring, but not to a great degree as they cannot control all the risk factors.

Risk Factors For Scarring

There are several risk factors for scarring that are beyond the control of the doctor or the patient:

  • Age – The age of the patient affects how quickly the skin responds to injury. However, as collagen production decreases with age, scars don’t heal as well, especially compared to young people.
  • Genetics – Tendency to scar can run in families. You are at a greater risk of scarring if it’s in your genes.
  • Ethnicity – Keloid scarring (where scar spreads beyond the original wound site) is a common concern among patients of African descent.
  • Lifestyle – You are at risk of bad scarring if you’re out in the sun for too long or smoke.

How well the wound heals also depends on the depth and size of the cut. The larger it is, the more time it will take to heal. Also, certain illnesses like diabetes can also slow down the healing process.

How To Minimise Scarring Through Proper Wound Care?

Your surgeon will provide you with specific aftercare instructions (they can vary between patients according to the type of surgery and incisions). Make sure to follow them. In general, however, your plastic surgeon may recommend doing the following to reduce scarring after surgery.

Minimise Sun Exposure

Sun exposure can worsen fresh scars, and they are more vulnerable to sun damage. That is why it’s important that you keep your skin covered or in a shade when you’re outdoors. By increasing the production of melanin, the sun can also worsen hyperpigmentation, which can make the scar more visible.

Sweating from being under the sun can also increase the risk of infection. Therefore, for many reasons, you should minimise sun exposure. If you have to go outside, make sure to wear a hat or take an umbrella with you. You may have to wait for the incision site to heal before starting to use the sunscreen.

Avoid Strenuous Activity 

After different types of plastic surgery procedures like liposuction, tummy tuck, or breast surgery, plastic surgeons recommend avoiding strenuous activity for a while. This can include lifting, bending or stretching.

All these activities can put tension on the wound, which can stretch open the skin, delaying recovery. If the size of the wound increases, you’ll end up with an even more prominent scar. Also, keep in mind that if you’re not listening to your body, exhaustion can also slow down recovery.

Dressing Changes 

Preventing infection is extremely important as that can worsen scarring. One way to ensure that is to make sure that you change your dressing when and as directed by your surgeon. You need to keep the wound clean so that it can heal quickly and normally.

Ointments, Vitamins & Oils 

Your surgeon may recommend the use of bio-oil after the stitches dissolve. Make sure to ask your surgeon how often you should use it. Some also consider using vitamin E and other ointments to minimise scarring but keep in mind that you should not use them unless you’ve first consulted your surgeon.


Silicone adhesives have been popularly used for minimising the appearance of scars. The gel increases hydration and regulates the production of collagen so that it’s not too prominent.

It also relieves tension on the wound, so there are different ways in which it helps during the healing process. They’re quite commonly used after a cosmetic procedure. However, you shouldn’t use them without first discussing their use with your surgeon.

How To Prevent Scarring After Plastic Surgery?

To prevent bad scarring after plastic surgery, you may be recommended to do the following by your surgeon:

Quit Drinking & Smoking

Both drinking and smoking can slow down wound healing. Because of the risks that they pose, your surgeon will require you to avoid them for a few weeks before the surgery takes place. However, you also need to avoid it for a few weeks after. Smoking constricts blood vessels which can reduce blood flow to the healing wound. And alcohol can cause dehydration, which can also have a negative impact on wound healing.

Eat Healthy Foods

There are certain foods that can help promote wound healing. Therefore, you should consider making them a part of your diet. Collagen, which makes a large part of our skin, is protein. So, you need to make sure that you’re consuming enough protein. You should consider making the following a part of your diet:

  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Seafood
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Berries
  • Strawberries
  • Beef
  • Beans
  • Yoghurt

This list is by no means exhaustive. You should further consult your surgeon, especially if you have diabetes or any other health condition. Also, if you’re considering taking any supplements, consult your surgeon about their intake.

Maintain Healthy Weight

Poor wound healing is a concern among obese patients. It’s important that you maintain a healthy weight before and after surgery because the fat can make it difficult for the incisions to close up neatly.

How To Get Rid of Old Plastic Surgery Scars?

If you have bad scarring from an old surgery, it is possible to get rid of it through some surgical and non-surgical procedures.

Laser Therapy 

Laser therapy is quite popular for taking care of scars. The beam of light essentially damages the tissue in the deeper layers of the skin, which triggers a healing response by the body.

As a result, more collagen is produced, which can help minimise the appearance of the scar. Here, you should also note that some people have experienced worsening of their scars following laser treatment. Make sure that you consult a qualified and licensed doctor for this scar therapy.

Scar Removal Surgery

Scar removal is a surgical procedure which involves the excision of the old scar. The old scar is replaced by a new scar instead. However, it is less prominent.

It is also possible that you end up needing a skin graft for this surgery, depending on the type of scarring you have. Keep in mind that you cannot get this surgery right after undergoing plastic surgery. You need to wait for at least a year as the scar can change during that time.


It is a plastic surgery procedure that aims to improve the appearance of scars. It can either change the length of the scar or realign it with the natural skin so that it’s not as prominent on the skin.

Steroid Injections

Another way to improve the appearance of scars is steroid injections. It is directly injected into the scar tissue, which can soften it up and decrease its size. These are commonly recommended for raised scars.

Concluding Remarks

Scarring after plastic surgery is something that many patients worry about. That’s because it can directly affect the overall aesthetics. However, it is possible to minimise the appearance of surgical scars and even take measures to prevent them. Still, there are certain risk factors that cannot be controlled.

Keep in mind that visible scarring is not always a concern with plastic surgery. That’s because the surgeons take care in the placement of the incision so that it remains hidden in the folds of the skin (crease of the breasts, below the underwear line or in the armpits, etc.). Remember, scarring is an unavoidable consequence of invasive surgery. You should ask your doctor about it in great detail beforehand.

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