Select Page
Why Scarring Happens After Surgery, and the Best Scar Treatments to Reduce Their Appearance
post surgical scar treatments
May 21, 2024

Scarring after surgery is a natural part of the skin’s healing process—but not everyone develops the same types of scars. Some scars become raised or indented, and some become discolored and stand out against surrounding skin. Sometimes, the way scars heal can make movement uncomfortable.   

Unfortunately, scarring doesn’t go away on its own. Patients who are interested in minimizing the appearance of their scars have several options for post-surgical scar treatments. 

Scars Come in a Variety of Shapes, Sizes, and Colors

Surgical incisions cut through the dermis, which is the deep, thick layer of skin under the epidermis. To mend the damage, the body forms new collagen fibers. This collagen becomes the scar tissue we are familiar with, which looks and feels different from surrounding skin.

Ideally when a surgical scar heals, it will be flat and flesh-colored, but some post-surgical scars form differently for various reasons: 

Raised scars. When the body produces too much collagen, scars become thick and rise above the skin. Raised scars are called hypertrophic scars or keloid scars. 

Depressed scars. Some scars can have a sunken appearance, often due to the loss of fat or muscle that should be supporting the skin.

Stretched scars. When the skin is under tension during the healing process, such as near a knee or elbow joint, the scar becomes stretched. This can cause discomfort with movement since the skin becomes tight.  

1 1

Why Some People Are More Prone to Severe Scarring

Even though most surgical incisions are performed the same, scar formation varies depending on a number of factors:

Age. Younger patients experience faster wound healing, as their skin is thicker and they produce more collagen. As we age, cellular metabolism slows down along with collagen production.

Genetics. Different bodies respond differently to inflammation after surgery and how well it produces collagen to form scar tissue. Patients who produce extra collagen tend to have raised scars, while those who don’t produce much collagen develop depressed scarring. Up to half of patients who develop keloids, which are raised scars that spread beyond the incision site, have at least one blood relative whose skin heals this way.

Ethnicity. According to the American Association of Dermatology, people with dark skin are more likely to get keloids. Studies show that Black people have the greatest risk of developing keloids, followed by people of Asian, Latin American, or Mediterranean descent. 

Does At-Home Surgical Scar Treatment Work?

After surgery, we always advise that our patients follow the same protocol at home to minimize scarring. 

Applying ointments. Antibacterial ointments at the incision site can prevent infection and keep the skin from drying out. Keeping the skin moist can also help prevent thick scars from forming. Depending on where the incision is, silicone sheets or topical silicone gel can be effective at sealing incisions while keeping them hydrated. We recommend Dr. Breslow’s Scar Therapy Cream as one of the best scar treatments, which is made with arnica, rosemary oil, rose oil, chamomile extract, sandalwood extract, mango, and other ingredients to reduce redness and minimize the appearance of the scar. 

Wearing sunscreen. The sun’s UV rays can contribute to swelling and elongate the healing process. It’s best to avoid being in the sun after surgery, or at least use a sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher when spending time outdoors.  

Massaging the incision. Scar massage can prevent scar tissue buildup, reduce swelling, and improve blood flow to the area as it heals. It also helps in regaining sensation in the area and reducing itchiness. 

While patients are likely to achieve desirable results after following a surgeon’s advice for post-surgical scar treatment, trying at-home natural remedies is not often effective. There is inconclusive evidence that coconut oil, Vitamin E, aloe vera, and other topical solutions can actually flatten or lighten scarring.  

Non-Invasive Post-Surgical Scar Treatments 

Because every scar forms differently, the best scar treatment will depend on a patient’s type of scar, skin type, and desired result. We offer the following non-surgical procedures at Injxcellence Med Spa.

Treating Pigment and Texture 1

Skin Resurfacing 

For dark-colored or uneven surface scars, the goal is to even skin tone to make the scars less noticeable. Skin resurfacing techniques remove the top layer of skin to provoke new flesh-colored, smoother layers to grow in. 

Laser therapy. To flatten scars and improve discoloration, we use concentrated beams of light to pulsate the area of scarring. This breaks up pigment and improves textures. Because of its precision, laser therapy is one of the most preferred surgical scar treatments for the face. The type of laser we use will depend on pigment color and texture of the scar. Our new devices, Lutronic Ultra, and Hollywood Spectra both work great in reducing the visibility of the scar and are safe for all skin types. For optimal results, laser therapy is administered in several treatments spaced about 4 weeks apart. 

Radiofrequency microneedling. Microneedling is an effective method of stimulating collagen production. Injxcellence offers Lutronic Genius RF, in which we use very thin needles and radiofrequency (RF) to create microscopic injuries to the scar while delivering radio waves deep in the skin. This prompts a natural healing response and helps to stimulate new collagen fibers to grow, leading to significant improvement in skin texture and reduced appearance of scars.

best scar treatment

Surgical Scar Treatment 

When conservative treatments aren’t effective or are not possible, we may recommend surgery. The best surgical scar treatments aim to either remove scar tissue (excision), change the positioning and/or shape of the scar (revision), or both.  

Flap or skin graft. In some cases when we remove the scar tissue, we manipulate a flap of adjacent healthy skin to reform the area. When a flap is not available, we can take a skin graft from an inconspicuous area such as the buttocks or inner thigh and place it over the area where the scar tissue was. 

Z-plasty. Z-plasty is a method that moves a scar into a natural fold or crease to minimize its visibility. It can also improve mobility by relaxing or releasing tightness caused by scar tissue, especially if the scar stretches across a joint. 

Tissue expanders. After removing scar tissue, we insert an expandable silicone implant under the skin to stretch it. Eventually, the healthy, stretched skin can be used to replace the excised scar tissue.

You Don’t Have to Live with Unsightly Scars. Schedule a Consultation Now.

After any cosmetic surgery at Breslow Center, we will discuss the best post-surgical scar treatments to minimize scarring. For patients who have surgical scars from previous procedures, our providers at Injxellence can recommend the most effective method for reducing your scar’s appearance. Contact us at 201-444-9522 to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Dr. Gary Breslow, MD, FACS

Dr. Gary Breslow, MD, FACS

Is a highly regarded plastic surgeon in Paramus New Jersey, known by both patients and peers as a problem-solver with a warm, engaging personality, and an instinctive ability to identify and truly understand the goals of his patients and the patients, themselves. Dr. Breslow has dedicated his efforts to providing results of only the most unsurpassed quality, continually staying abreast of the most advanced techniques in cosmetic surgery for the benefit of his patients. Dr. Breslow is Board-Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, and is licensed to practice plastic & reconstructive surgery in both New Jersey and New York.

You may also like

How Do You Know if You Have Gynecomastia?

How Do You Know if You Have Gynecomastia?

Many men are uncomfortable taking their shirts off because they have a “feminine” chest. Sometimes this happens when carrying extra weight, and sometimes it’s due to a condition called gynecomastia, in which a hormone imbalance causes glandular breast tissue to grow. ...

Don't Miss a Beat!

Subscribe to our Monthly Promo Newsletter

Get 20% OFF

On your first Botox or Fillers treatment with us!
Or sign up now to claim this exlusive offer!
*First-time patients only.