Scar Wars: Minimizing Your Breast Augmentation Scars

Scars are a somewhat inevitable aftereffect of breast implants surgery.

Exactly how your scars will develop, and subsequently heal, depends on several factors, including your skin type, the size and placement of your incisions, your smoking status (smokers are more likely to heal badly), and whether you had any complications from your surgery.

If you have combined your breast augmentation surgery with a breast lift, you will have additional scars associated with that surgery, and your breast lift recovery time will add to your overall recuperation time.

What Is a Scar?

A scar is a natural part of the wound healing process. When you are injured, your body produces an excess of collagen, which forms a scar. This production of collagen is kept in check by an enzyme called collagenase. The interaction of these two substances determines the nature and extent of the scarring. If there is too much collagen and not enough collagenase, for example, you may develop hypertrophic (thick/raised) scars; you also may develop keloids, a type of scar that is characterized by raised, reddish nodules. Some people are prone to developing these types of problematic scars, including individuals with dark skin.

Many scars eventually fade, but few disappear entirely.

Be Patient

The healing process of a scar takes time. Your incisions will be closed and dry within a few days, and sutures, if any, are removed within a week. The scar tissue will go through several stages, so scars may look red and raised for several months. Next, they will become paler and flatter. Your scars may take up to a year to fully mature.

Avoid the Sun

Stay out of the sun.

Sunlight on a scar can cause discoloration, leading to a more pronounced, unsightly scar.

Surgeons recommend that you use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above on your healed incisions to protect your skin after cosmetic surgery. Ask your surgeon for specific recommendations.

If you are concerned about scarring, ask your surgeon what you can do proactively to minimize the appearance of any scars. Silicone sheeting may help flatten and lighten your scars. There are also topical silicone gels and creams that can be used on scars. Some surgeons use surgical paper tapes to flatten and fade scars. Another option is to treat the incision line with Retin A (topical tretinoin) once it has closed, and then cover it with tape.

Laser Treatments for Breast Augmentation Scars

Scars can take a year or more to fully heal. If your scars are still unsightly after enough time has passed, laser scar removal may help. There are many types of lasers that can help improve the look and feel of your scars. In general, a laser is moved along the scar, where it vaporizes a layer of skin. This exposes a more natural-looking layer. Other lasers may reverse scars by stimulating the development of collagen at the lower layers of the skin.

Other Scar Treatments

Other scar-fading therapies include cryosurgery (freezing of the upper skin layers, which causes blistering followed by shedding of excess tissue at the scar), steroid injections and scar removal surgery.

Injections of a medication called Interferon may also help improve the hardness and cosmetic appearance of the scar. Cosmetics that camouflage the scar may also help.

Discuss your concerns with your surgeon. He or she will likely have some recommendations about what will — and what will not — minimize your breast augmentation scars.

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    David Pratt, MD

    Pratt Plastic Surgery
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    David Pratt, MD

    Pratt Plastic Surgery
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    Dr. David Ward Cosmetic Plastic Surgery
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