Experts with ThePlasticSurgeryChannel.com discuss how to heal plastic surgery scars following a procedure.
Plastic surgeons with ThePlasticSurgeryChannel.com recently gathered to discuss the best options for minimizing scars following surgery. Among the panelists, board certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Lee Thornton, Dr. Robert Grant, Dr. John Gross, along with Dr. Bill Adams, president of The Plastic Surgery Channel. During their roundtable discussion each surgeon discussed the latest breakthroughs and the most effective ways to treat and heal scars.
Dr. John Gross a plastic surgeon from Pasadena, California says, “Getting the best outcome and appearance for the patient starts in the operating room.” He says, “There are lots of ways to proceed with scar healing after surgery.” The first way to proceed is through patient education, says Dr. Lee Thornton, a plastic surgeon who practices in Meridian, Mississippi. Thornton says, “Our job as surgeons is to try and minimize the scar as much as possible.”
Patient Compliance is Critical for Proper Scar Healing
The Doctors agree, patient compliance is critical for any scar to heal quickly . Dr. Robert Grant from New York City says, there are various factors that come into play. He says, “Time of year, location of the scar, whether the patient is a child or adult, and whether the surgery was done for reconstructive or cosmetic purposes, are all determining factors for scar treatment.” Grant says each patient’s scar should be taken on an individual basis so their goals and objectives are met effectively.
Proven Methods for Healing Scars
There are numerous proven methods for healing and treating scars. Surgeons say usually after a week or two the scar should be ready for either a silicone gel or silicone adhesive. According to each plastic surgeon, silicone is a proven and effective treatment in minimizing the appearance of scars.
Another important measure is avoiding contact with the sun. Dr. Gross says there are silicone products with a sunscreen built in that are easily applied in a gel form. Having two products in one is much easier for the patient to stick with the treatment over the long term.
When asked by Dr. Adams what each plastic surgeon does in their own practices, Dr. Thornton says silicone sheeting along with compression were the two biggest factors. He says, “The real difference comes when you have a patient who is known to have a poor history in scar healing.” Thornton says in some cases steroid injections at the time of surgery and after surgery may be necessary. Dr. Grant says, “After about a month I’ll know if the patient is having any problems with thickening, redness, or itching. If that’s the case, we get into the more advanced regimens of using a steroid or steroid injection.”
For the patient with a history of bad scars, there is also a new product on the market, just approved by the F-D-A that combines a topical silicone gel with a topical steroid. Thornton says, steroids should not be the first line of therapy when treating scars. He says most scars will heal just fine in the first few weeks. However, sometimes due to genetics, some people are going to heal differently and have poor healing scars.
ThePlasticSurgery Channel.com’s surgeons say, if a scar is starting to show symptoms of thickening, itching, or redness, a steroid injection or topical steroid is acceptable. However, Thornton says it’s important to keep in mind that while the steroid cuts down on the inflammation of the scar, too much can cause the scar to weaken, thin and widen. He says, “I use a steroid for a week at most, then re-assess.”
Thornton says, “With new products on the market that combine sunscreen and steroids with the silicone, patients have an easier time caring for their scar.” He says, “If the patient has to apply two or three different products, that’s hard for anyone to do. I think what we’re seeing now are products that may help with patient compliance.” Surgeons agree, patient compliance above everything else is the number one way to have better healing scars.