One of the most asked-about topics relating to plastic surgery is scarring. Understandably, many potential patients worry that their plastic surgery scars will be noticeable. Perhaps they have heard from past patients who were left behind with noticeable, dark and thick scars after their surgeries.
Scarring is an inevitable part of surgery. Whenever an incision is made into the skin, a scar will eventually appear as part of the body’s natural healing response. The good news is that these scars should fade significantly over time, so long as proper care is taken. One of the most important steps you can take is practicing good sun protection. Here, Dr. Erwin Bulan, a top Northern New Jersey plastic surgeon, discusses the topic in detail.
Why You Should Protect Your Scars from the Sun
Protecting the skin from UV rays is important in general. But because healing scars are more susceptible to sun damage, protection is doubly important. Fresh scars (those pink in color and healing) can easily burn and become inflamed, which in turn can lead to hyperpigmentation. Hyperpigmentation occurs when an excess of melanin builds up in the overexposed area, causing it become darker and thicker. With healing scars, this effect can last months, or even years.
Sun Protection Tips
Your incision scars should be protected from UV exposure for at least the first year after your surgery. However, given the sun’s harmful effects on the skin in general, Dr. Bulan recommends you be diligent about sun protection beyond the first year. Here are a few tips when it comes to protecting your healing scars from the sun:
Cover up. Your scars should be covered up with clothing and band aids during the first few weeks after surgery. Do not remove surgical bandages until your surgeon instructs you to do so.
Avoid prolonged sun exposure. Spending hours upon hours outdoors drastically increases your chances of sun damage. It’s in your best interest to limit your time outdoors, including during cloudy weather.
Apply sunscreen. Sunscreen is a key defense in scar healing. Apply broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Reapply every two hours.
Consider silicone sheeting and other scar products. Some doctors encourage the use of flat silicone sheeting to protect incision sites as they heal. Ask your surgeon for recommendations on silicone sheeting and other products that aid scar healing.
For more tips on scar care, or to learn how to ensure beautiful plastic surgery results, schedule a consultation with Dr. Bulan. Contact his Northern New Jersey practice by calling (973) 467-9744 today.