Wound care & scarring
How to minimize scarring
Bear in your mind that:
- Preventing a scar is easier than correcting a scar!
- In order to minimize scarring, optimal wound care is crucial during the first two weeks after skin surgery.
- Stitched wounds should be covered in a layer of bland non antibiotic ointment constantly during the post-op period in order to promote healing.
How do scars arise from wounds?
Scarring is a natural result of the wound healing process. After skin surgery or accidental skin injury, proper wound care is crucial to minimize the risk of infection and prevent scarring.
How can you minimize the risk of scarring?
To minimize scarring, strictly follow the post-surgery wound care instructions. After sutures are removed, the surgery site is still very delicate and healing. You should continue the use of ointment and bandages. Bandages and ointment use provide a moist clean environment for healing and also a physical protection while the wound is still delicate. Avoid baths, swimming pools, hot tubs, saunas, or steam rooms until your incision is fully healed.
In general, any type of injury to the skin will leave a scar. Scars are particularly sensitive to the sun and can lead to hyperpigmentation if exposed. Therefore, it is important to keep scars covered or apply sunscreen when the sun is out. Lotions and skin softeners can help soften scars. Some scars fade over time while others don’t.
Avoid tension and injury after suture removal
The average wound usually achieves approximately 5% of its expected tensile strength 1-2 weeks after surgery. In general, the greater the tension across a wound, the longer sutures should remain in place. However, due to risk of suture marks, infections, and tissue reactions, sutures should be removed before the wound is fully healed.
Avoid irritation of the wound by exercise
During the healing process of a wound, especially the first 3 days, any physical and chemical irritation to the site of skin surgery delays wound healing. As a result, this increases the size of the scar. The wound should be kept bandaged and dry during the first 24-48 hours after skin surgery. Exercising during this time is strongly discouraged, as exercise can be a physical irritant and sweat can be a chemical irritant. The wound should not be washed/showered during this time frame. If the location of the surgery allows, gentle walks are permitted.
At the time of skin surgery, you will be informed what exercises you can do based on the type, size, and location of surgery.
How long does healing take?
Healing depends on your general health and the type of surgery. Large or deep surgical incisions can take 6 to 8 weeks to heal. Individuals with certain medical problems may take longer to heal. Smoking is also a strong risk factor for poor wound healing.
Time of suture removal plays a roll
Timely removal of the sutures is important for wound healing and cosmesis. Premature suture removal can result in dehiscence (wound opening), resulting in a larger final scar. Delayed removal of the stitches can increase the risk of suture marks, infections, and tissue reactions.
Diet and wound healing?
An overall healthy diet and lifestyle will promote proper wound healing. Follow a diet high in vitamin C, protein, and zinc. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, and vegetables such as broccoli and brussel sprouts. Meats, fish, and milk products are high in protein and zinc.
How should a wound feel?
In general, some discomfort in the area of surgery is expected, but not to the extent of severe pain. Avoid NSAIDs such as Advil and Aleve during the first 3-5 days after skin surgery. Tylenol use for other medical issues can be continued post surgery.
Discomfort at the surgical site should decrease each day. If the pain gets worse instead of better, contact our office because you may have an infection or other complication.
Will I have a scar after skin surgery or skin injury?
The final appearance of a scar is dictated by how well the wound heals, which is determined by many factors such as depth of the wound, the surgical technique, and post-procedure wound care. Genetic components, age, and skin pigmentation can also affect how the wound heals.
How to prevent scar discoloration
Sun exposure to a scar can lead to significant post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It is important to prevent hyperpigmentation by applying sunscreen to the site of the wound after it has completely healed. Use sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher and reapply frequently (every 2 hours during direct sun exposure). Mineral sunscreens (with zinc oxide or titanium oxide) provide the greatest protection. Physical coverage of your wound with a bandage will also help prevent sun exposure. DO NOT apply sunscreen to a wound that hasn’t completely healed.
When should I contact the office regarding my wound concerns?
Call your family doctor or health care provider right away if you have any of the following:
- a wound that is becoming more red, swollen or hot
- a wound that has green or yellow drainage
- a wound that smells bad
- bleeding that does not stop with pressure
- pain that is not getting better
- hardness or fullness around the wound
- Opening of the incision site
- a fever over 38.3°C or 101°F
How to contact us for questions and concerns:If you have any questions and concerns during office hours please call us (949) 551-1113, email firstname.lastname@example.org or click on ask question on our website.
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