They are the unavoidable marks left behind following surgery. But are there steps you can take to minimise scarring?
Here, facial aesthetics and oculoplastic surgeon Dr Maryam Zamani sheds light on the best ways to heal cosmetic surgery scars.
She says: “Scars can form after injury or surgery and a natural part of the healing process.
“It can take many months. Depending on the type of surgery, the appearance of scars can continue to improve over the course of a year and, in rare cases, even longer. There are some things we can do to help achieve the best possible scar.”
Dr Zamani, who has a clinic on London’s swanky Sloane Street, says: “It is always advised that people stop smoking completely before a surgery.
“Smoking can hamper recovery by reducing the amount of oxygen in the blood and constricting blood vessels. Healing requires a good supply of oxygenated blood. Smoking can reduce the rate of healing, thus decrease proper wound healing.”
“Studies have suggested that wound dehiscence is more likely in smokers.”
Avoid exposing your scars to sunlight
Scar tissue is incredibly sensitive and can be adversely affected by UV radiation. Minimising the risk of pigmenting a scar is imperative. Avoidance of immediate sun and thorough protection with a high SPF is important to minimise the risk of hyperpigmented scars.
“The best thing to do is to cover your scars in light clothing and to cover it in suncream with a very high SPF.”
Don’t exercise straight away
It might be tempting to throw yourself into exercise following surgery, but care should be taken.
Dr Zamani says: “It takes time for a wound to heal and throwing yourself into rigorous exercise shortly after surgery can cause your body much more harm than good.
“Take time to let your body and skin rest. Your consultant will let you know when is safe to resume exercise, and the kind of workout that is suitable depending on your operation.”
Pay attention to your diet
Some foods have been proven to help the skin heal more quickly. They include green, leafy vegetables and foods rich vitamins and minerals.
Dr Zamani says: “Diet can have a real impact on how well you heal, so pay close attention to what you’re eating and drinking. Maintaining hydration after surgery is important as is eating a well balanced diet, as it is in routine life as well .”
Look after your wound
Look after your scar, and the scar will look after itself.
Dr Zamani, an associate member of the British College of Aesthetic Medicine and the Royal College of Ophthalmology, says: “Follow the advice given with regard to keeping your wound and stitches clean.
“Then be careful not to pick, scratch, or aggressively clean the wound. Healing scars can be itchy. Instead of itching, use cool ice packs to give relief. Wear loose clothes and avoid anything that might rub or irritate them.”
Try a silicone gel
Dr Zamani says: “Once the wound is healed I always recommend gently massaging the skin to keep it moisturised and supple. There are a number of silicone products on the market which can help with this.
“I find traditional silicone sheets can be tricky to apply and are difficult to wear under clothing, so I always recommend patients look for a silicone-based gel instead.
“Nourisil MD contains five silicones plus vitamin E, which creates a water barrier over the skin to trap in moisture.
“It can be massaged into the skin once it has fully healed, so around five to six weeks after surgery, and helps to flatten raised skin, and fade the scar’s appearance.”