Every plastic surgery patient takes a different road to renewal, but a healthy recovery process is crucial in every patient journey. Today’s advances in science and medicine offer a number of safe and simple ways to heal so you can move on to enjoy life — and a new look — with minimal scarring.
Here are three tips for post-operative care to help minimise the appearance of scars.
1. Wait at least two weeks before moisturising.
“In the first two to four weeks of recovery, your body begins to repair itself by producing collagen,” says Dr. Trefor Nodwell, board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of The Ottawa Clinic. “Collagen helps to strengthen the skin and close the incision. Patients should keep the area clean and dry to facilitate this part of the healing process and avoid irritation, which could hinder their ability to heal.”
After this window, a topical gel such as the SkinMedica Scar Recovery Gel can help moisturise and encourage healing to minimise the appearance of red or pink scarring. The gel contains Centelline™, a botanical complex rich in antioxidants that rebalances skin cells.
2. Be careful not to overwork your body.
Different kinds of incisions are used during each specific surgical procedure, and some require distinct treatments. Scars in high-tension areas, such as the stomach, can get bigger if they’re stretched by a patient’s movements or gravity. Use a compression garment or band to reduce tension and help prevent scars from growing.
Scars in low-tension areas, such as the arms, should be massaged after the two-week healing period. Massaging helps break down skin tissue and can minimise the appearance of scarring.
3. Protect yourself from the sun and avoid smoking.
“Scars typically take 12 to 18 months to heal completely. During that time patients should make healthy life choices,” says Dr. Nodwell. “Smoking lowers the level of oxygen we take in and slows the healing of wounds, for example. So quitting smoking can ensure better healing. UV rays are one of the main reasons scars change colour over time, so use sunscreen and practice proper sun care.”