How to Reduce Scars after Breast Surgery?

Scars on the breasts can occur from a biopsy, lumpectomy, mastectomy or implants. There are many different types of scars and each scar can appear pink or red in color as well as thick or bumpy. Patients must also understand the trauma inflicted on the tissue, during a surgical procedure, can also create scarring on the inside. While scarring on the outside will fade over time, the fibrous tissue on the inside may cause lumpiness, tightness or discomfort. However, there are some ways to reduce scarring on the breasts that patients can discuss with their doctor.

Surgical scar after breast surgery

Silicone Treatments

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, silicone-based bandages or sheeting can reduce the density of a scar. However, this treatment should be used daily for best results. Silicone creams and gels may also be beneficial to treat scar tissue and may be easier to apply on the breasts.

Scar Tissue Massage

Approximately 2 weeks after breast surgery, or when the incisions have healed, patients may begin massaging the scar tissue with lotion, oils or creams. Scar tissue massage can help remove built-up collagen from the surgical site for a flatter, more flexible scar. Scar massaging also alleviates lumpiness and the itchy sensation most scars have. Apply gentle pressure with two or more fingers along the scar, and in the surrounding areas, to see the best results.

Cortisone Treatments

Daily use of cortisone cream or creams containing cortisone can help shrink the size of a scar. However, the wound should be fully healed before using this type of topical medication.

Pressure Bandages

The American Academy of Dermatology states that using pressure bandages can help flatten hypertrophic scars. However, this method also requires daily use and can take several months before results are seen.

Vitamin E

Taking a daily supplement of vitamin E may help to reduce the amount of scar tissue that can form around the implant. Its powerful antioxidant abilities can repair damaged skin and fight inflammation. Vitamin E can also be found in certain oils, grains, nuts and wheat germ. It can also be found in liquid form and/or many skin care creams.

Avoid the Sun

Avoid sun exposure to new scars since the UV rays can slow the healing process and cause a dark discoloration. Furthermore, the new skin is extremely sensitive and can burn easily. Therefore, patients should apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher whenever going outdoors.

Laser Therapy

If a scar does not heal properly, patients may be able to reduce a scar via laser treatment. Laser therapy works by removing the outer layers of skin to promote new cell growth and a smoother texture.

Surgically Removed

Deep scarring, which cannot be remedied with tissue massage or other methods, may need to be surgically removed. Scar tissue that becomes so bad that it squeezes the implant and causes pain, or a shifting of the implant, is called capsular contracture. The surgeon will need to excise the scar tissue and may need to replace the implant.

SP

What is Laser Scar Removal?

Scars are the way the body naturally repairs the skin from an injury, burn, bite, acne or surgery. While everyone wants the healing, nobody wants the scars. Laser scar removal uses laser technology to improve or minimize the appearance of a scar. There are various lasers available to treat a wide range of skin and scar types. A plastic surgeon, or certified dermatologist who specializes in laser scar removal, can help you determine which type of scar treatment is best for you.

Scar removal by laser

Types of Laser Treatments

Laser Resurfacing involves using a high-powered laser to minimize the appearance of the scar by removing the top layers of skin. The procedure can be performed as an outpatient procedure in a skin laser clinic or doctor’s office and only takes between 1 and 2 hours. A local anesthetic numbs the area and goggles will be placed over the eyes to protect them from the bright light. During the procedure, the doctor will move the hand-held laser wand over the scar to remove the damaged skin cells. Each pass of the laser eradicates more cells. As the laser penetrates the scar, it also reaches the middle layers of skin and can provide smoother, tighter skin.

The doctor may choose between two skin resurfacing lasers and they are the CO2 laser or the Erbium: YAG laser. Both lasers work well for most scars including acne scars.

  • The CO2 laser is more powerful than the Erbium: YAG laser and can penetrate far deeper into the skin. This type of laser is best for removing thick and deep scars. The procedure can be slightly more painful and the recovery time is a little longer at about 2 weeks.
  • Erbium: YAG laser is often used to treat shallow scars. Since it is not as powerful as the CO2 laser, there is less sedation needed and less pain. Furthermore, the recovery time is also minimized at about 1 week.

Fractionated laser resurfacing uses tiny beams of light which penetrate deep into the skin. The laser causes microscopic holes where the damaged skin cells used to be. These holes stimulate collagen production and the creation of fresh, new skin cells. This type of laser allows for a quicker recovery since the surrounding skin is left unharmed. Because it is a less invasive technique, this type of procedure only requires topical anesthetic. Plus, there is little to no recovery time. On the other hand, fractionated laser resurfacing cannot produce the same immediate results that laser resurfacing can provide. Therefore, additional procedures will be needed for best results. You may need 3 to 5 sessions at one week apart.

Non-ablative laser resurfacing involves using infrared lasers to heat the inner layers of skin to encourage collagen production and produce fresh skin cells to replace the damaged cells on the scar. The heat from the procedure can be slightly painful, as the laser moves across the scar, but a cooling spray will be released with each pass. This cooling spray prevents any damage to the surface of the skin. This type of laser treatment can be done in a doctor’s office and only takes about 15 to 30 minutes per treatment. However, you may need 4 to 6 sessions to benefit from this type of laser and it can take months before you see the results.

SP

How To Avoid Scars

Unless you cloak yourself in bubble wrap and tape yourself to the couch, you will end up with a scar at some point. Precautions, such as wearing gloves when working in the garden or protective gear when bicycling, can help to circumvent scrapes and cuts which lead to scarring. It is strange to think that scarring is not supposed to be a bad thing. Scar tissue is the body’s way of healing itself after surgery or an injury but nobody is pleased to see a scar form. Scars that are raised, red, itchy or wide may need a form of scar revision to minimize their appearance. However, the best way to avoid a scar is to treat the wound properly. While a doctor will establish proper wound care for a surgical scar, here are some tips to help you avoid scar development:

  • Cleanse the Wound

Wound Care to Avoid ScarsIt is very important to keep the wound properly cleansed. Gently wash the wound with a mild soap and lukewarm water to get rid of germs and remove debris. If dirt and particles remain in the wound after a thorough washing, use tweezers to carefully remove them. Be sure to clean the tweezers with alcohol before removing the fragments. A wound that is clean will heal quicker, neater and is less likely to develop into a scar than one that becomes infected. Hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol are not recommended since alcohol can be irritating to damaged skin and hydrogen peroxide destroys white blood cells needed to repair the wound.

  • Keep the Wound Moist

While some people say to let the wound have air so it can scab over, scabs are not our friends. Scabs allow scarring to occur so keeping the wound moist and covered is a better way to avoid scars. Moisture prevents a hard scab from being able to form since it slows the development of new tissue but it does allow cells to regenerate faster. If the wound is properly cleansed, don’t grab Neosporin or other ointments since they can impede wound cleansing. Instead, apply petroleum jelly to the wound and a bandage. Keeping the wound moist with petroleum jelly can keep the scar from becoming too large, deep or itchy. If a scab does form, do not pick at it. Otherwise, you are likely to get a worse scar.

  • Cover it Up

Research has shown that keeping a bandage on a wound speeds healing by as much as 50%. Cleanse the area, reapply ointment and change the bandage daily to keep the wound clean and free of infection as it heals. Anyone who has sensitive skin can use a non-adhesive gauze pad and paper tape. A large cut should be examined by a doctor to determine whether stitches are needed. However, you may be able to close small cuts or gaps with a butterfly bandage. Butterfly bandages can help keep a fresh wound closed for better healing and minimal scarring. These bandages can be found at most drugstores.

  • Consider Silicone Gel

If you have large scrapes, burns, sores or persistent redness, you may want to consider using silicone gel sheets or hydrogel. Silicone gel sheets can help to promote healing while minimizing scar formation. Silicone gel sheets can also be used after a scar has already formed. They can help to flatten raised scars and tone down redness and/or itchiness. Follow the directions on the package or the advice of a doctor for changing the gel sheet.

  • Eat Healthy and Exercise

Eating a balanced diet and getting exercise can help ward off scars. While protein and vitamins are essential to the body, getting adequate zinc is especially important for wound healing. Grab some roasted pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, Brazil nuts, lean beef or dark-meat turkey to help avoid scarring. Exercise can speed the healing process because exercise increases circulation and regulates the immune system and hormones that influence the healing process.

  • Apply Sunscreen Religiously

Once the wound has healed, frequently apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen whenever going outside. The sunscreen should be a SPF of 30 or more since scars are very vulnerable to sunburns. Scar tissue lacks the ability to develop a tan since it has less pigment than the surrounding skin. Furthermore, UV rays are known to slow healing since they interfere with new collagen production. Sunscreen may help to decrease red or brown discoloration and help the scar fade at a quicker rate.

How the Sun Affects Scars

Sun and Scar

Did you know the sun can affect the appearance of scars both during the healing period and after they have healed? After the skin has been damaged and scar tissue forms, the new skin is very sensitive. Exposure to the sun can cause further inflammation in the tissue and create a multitude of side effects. Avoiding the sun helps with patient recovery by reducing the swelling, avoiding potential skin burns, minimizing tissue damage and scarring.

The sun plays a big part in how noticeable your scars will appear. It can darken a scar long after it heals and this is especially true for people who already have a dark skin tone. Many people believe tanning helps even out the skin tone between healthy skin and scar tissue to make the scar less noticeable. However, the UV rays of the sun can have a damaging and lasting effect on sensitive scar tissue. Healthy skin produces more melanin, or dark brown to black skin pigment, while tanning. The pigment absorbs the UV radiation and protects the skin cells from damage.

Scar tissue does not produce melanin which makes the scar tissue, as well as the surrounding skin, more susceptible to sunburn after a surgery or injury. Furthermore, scar tissue can sunburn more rapidly than healthy skin and alter the pigmentation of the scar tissue resulting in a discoloration or darkening of the scar. It can also cause the scar to thicken which creates the possibility of tissue damage.

The damage from UV rays can be permanent and the skin discoloration may never lighten to match the tone of the healthy tissue. Patients should completely avoid the sun for at least a week after surgery and limit any exposure thereafter.

It can take a full year for scar tissue to finally settle down. During this time, take precautions to protect the scar from harmful UV rays. Whenever possible, shield yourself from the sun to avoid exposure. Stay in the shade or cover up a scar with clothing. Sun hats and dresses are great for providing some protection but don’t forget to use sunscreen on a regular basis. This is especially true if the scar is on an area which can’t be covered easily. You should apply sunscreen each day before you go outside.

Be sure and use an SPF that will protect your scar from sun damage. An SPF number means the sun protection factor and an SPF of 30 or higher is recommended for the best results.

Scar Treatment and Removal Tips

Scars are unwanted things that can be a result of surgical procedures, burns, injuries and the removal of moles and acne. Scars develop due to any pull or tension that lasts for too long. Thankfully, there are a variety of methods to help reduce and remove scars.
Cosmetic surgery procedures can remove scars. There are a variety of methods and treatments that can be used to treat and remove scars including:

• A procedure called dermabrasion can lighten scars. An instrument called a wire brush is used to remove the upper layer of skin and, in turn, makes the scar light in appearance.

• Natural remedies used for dealing with scars include the use of lemon, aloe vera gel and onions. These items are rubbed on the scars and left on there for some time. Natural products like lemon, aloe vera and onion possess anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce skin irritation. They are known to reduce scars and help new skin cells to develop. Natural remedy methods take more time to show their results.

• Silicone gel sheeting is known to reduce scars. It is applied to the affected area and should be used for 3 or 4 months to get rid of scars.

• Steroids are also known to lighten scars. Steroids are injected on the skin that has the scar and converts the raised part of the scar into a flattened one. This procedure takes longer than others to get rid of any scars.

• Laser procedures can be used to remove the upper skin that is affected by scars by making the scar lighter. The laser is also used to activate collagen that helps the new cells to generate and cover the scar.

• Concealers can be used to cover the scar temporarily. In this method, a concealer that matches the skin color is used to cover the scar. It will make the scar invisible for some time.

• Creams can be applied to the scars. If the scar is not very deep, it can lighten up in 3 or 4 months.

• Vitamin E is helpful in dealing with scars by regenerating the skin and redeveloping the treated area. Vitamin E supplements as well as creams and lotions that contain Vitamin E are available at almost any grocery store or drug store. After applying the lotion to the scar, the skin regeneration starts and the scar will disappear within some months depending on the deepness of the scar.

• Dermatologists can apply chemicals on the skin that peel the scar away and allow the new skin to develop. They lighten up the scar and it eventually disappears. Chemical peeling is the name of this method and the chemical used for peeling of the skin is light acid.

• Scrubbing is also a method for treating scars. Exfoliation with a scrub needs to be regularly performed on the scarred area. The scrub must contain alpha hydroxyl acid to help make the scar disappear. The scrubs should be used as directed by a physician after a careful examination of the scar and skin type.

Scars can be lightened, or even removed, by following the steps mentioned above. Sometimes it takes a good amount of time to diminish deep scars depending on the deepness of the scar and the regeneration ability of the skin. A patient should consult with a dermatologist before starting any scar treatments.