Summary: Like it or not, scars are an inevitable part of any surgery. Experience plastic surgeons such as the Bay Area’s Dr. Thomas McNemar are careful to use surgical techniques that prevent excessive scarring. However, good care at home is just as important as good care in the operating room. Here are 6 important tips for minimizing the appearance of your scar after plastic surgery.
- Stay hydrated. Of course, it’s important to stay hydrated for lots of different reasons. Proper hydration is a key player in overall health, and it’s doubly important while your body works hard to heal itself after surgery. Healthy, hydrated skin heals faster and more efficiently. If you’re not sure that you’re getting enough to drink, check your urine the next time you use the bathroom. It should be very light yellow or completely colorless. If you’re worried you might be dehydrated, aim for 8 cups of fluid daily. It doesn’t have to be plain water â€” any caffeine-free beverage without a lot of added sugar will do.
- Get some rest. Prior to your surgery, your doctor will give you a timeline for when you may resume your normal activities. It’s important to follow his or her instructions closely, even if you feel well enough to pick up some activities sooner than recommended. Depending on the location of your incision, bending, walking, squatting, and other movement can put tension on the incision, slowing its healing. This can make the resulting scar appear larger or more severe than it needs to be. Follow your doctor’s instructions closely, and don’t resume any activities before you feel ready.
- Avoid the sun. The skin on and around scars is more sun-sensitive than the skin on the rest of our bodies, so it’s more prone to burns and discoloration. Sun exposure can also cause scars to thicken, resulting in a more conspicuous appearance later on. Of course, the best way to keep your scar healing properly is to stay out of the sun altogether. But if your incision is somewhere conspicuous, such as on your face, keeping it covered is easier said than done. With your surgeon’s permission, invest in a broad-spectrum sunblock with an SPF of at least 50. Be sure to reapply once every few hours.
- Keep an eye out. Although many plastic surgery patients are prescribed a round of antibiotics after surgery, infection can still occur. An infection can affect healing at the incision site and even threaten your overall health, so it’s important to know the signs. If you notice warmth, pain, redness, oozing, or a foul smell at your incision, contact your surgeon as soon as possible.
- Eat right. Surgery patients often experience a period of decreased appetite as they recover, largely due to the medications they take. When you’re eating less, it’s important to make every calorie count. Seek out nutritionally dense foods including fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and more. To promote good healing, shift your focus to lean protein in the form of chicken, fish, tofu, nuts, eggs, and low-fat cheese.
- Keep vices in check. Doctors are quick to emphasize the importance of quitting smoking and drinking before and after surgery. But do you know why? Smoking affects the body in a number of ways. When it comes to incisions, smoking can affect the vascular system and slow healing, preventing blood, nutrients, and oxygen from getting to tissues. Alcohol can interact with pain medicine and dehydrate you. It’s important to refrain from these activities both before and after surgery. Your doctor will give you a more detailed timeline.