Patients considering plastic surgery are often concerned about having a noticeable scar after the procedure. Most surgical procedures involve incisions with a scar left behind, but there are ways to minimize scarring. As Plastic Surgery Channel Founder and veteran plastic surgeon William P. Adams Jr. explains, new techniques and technologies – along with a well-trained hand in surgery – are all key to making the scar less visible.
Scars and Plastic Surgery
Ask any plastic surgeon what is number one concern among patients and many, if not most, will answer, “scars.” “The top thing patients are concerned about when they are considering plastic surgery is the scar,” says Dr. Adams. He says nearly every patient seeking plastic surgery is highly concerned about what sort of mark will be left behind after the procedure.
“They want to how long the scar is going to be, where the scar is going to be located and how it is going to look,” says Adams. He indicates those are very normal concerns of any patient considering plastic surgery. Adams says it is always a good idea to address the issue of scars and treatment in the initial consultation because it is an important issue and one that he focuses on greatly in his practice. “We spend our careers trying to figure out where scars heal the best and where we can place incisions so they are small and concealed.”
Brush up on Scars
Knowledge is power when it comes to knowing how to treat scars. Dr. Adams says it’s important to make sure patients are familiar with the advances that are being made in the treatment of scars. “There’s a lot we can do to make patients feel better about scars,” says Adams. He says it helps when a patient has some background on scars, including how they heal.
“Patients should know that there is a progression when it comes to the healing process.” Adams says a scar matures from a red scar that is firm to a very soft scar that is skin color. He says knowing these details helps a patient know healing is taking place. Most wounds will leave behind a scar, except for ones that are very minor.
A board certified plastic surgeon is very concerned about minimizing the scar during the procedure, but there are also ways to treat the scar after the operation is finished. Dr. Adams says these treatments are effective. “We use certain methods to help the scar heal for the first 12 months following a procedure and this is called scar therapy,” he explains.
Adams says there are various ways to treat a scar postoperatively, including the use of silicone products. “A patient can use either silicone gels or sheets that can be placed on top of the scar and generally these are easy to do and very effective at speeding up that maturation process.” Adams reminds patients it can take up to two years for a scar to fully mature, but says to expect good results after about a year. It’s often a relief when patients find out the scar may look much better 9-12 months after the operation.
“The good news is that with proper surgical technique and scar therapy, the scar should not really be a concern.” Adams says the areas of the body where plastic surgery is most often focused, including the breasts, abdomen and face, heal very well. “Most of the areas that we are doing in plastic surgery do tend to heal much better, but there are some areas on the extremities that are less favorable when it comes to scarring.”
It’s important to remember that no matter how good the incision or treatment afterward, cutting on the body requires an incision that will leave at least a faint scar, according to Adams. “There is always going to be a small remnant of the scar, but the goal is to make it so you almost can’t see it.”