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So, you have had surgery, how are you going to take care of the incision?

Generally, I like to see most patients 24 hours after surgery, the dressings that are put on at the time of surgery are left in place. The next day, I change the dressings, we talk about how to put new ones on (if necessary) and then I encourage all patients to start washing their incisions in the shower using soap (like dove or ivory…..no weird antibacterial or deodorant soaps) daily. This reduces the bacteria on the skin and has the best chance of preventing infection (even better than taking antibiotics).

Incisions on the face generally heal by 6-7 days and sutures are then removed while other incisions can take up to 2wks. So, this means aggressive activity like going back to the gym to your regular routine or playing contact sports before 2 weeks from surgery risks both infection due to all that sweat and also the incision popping open. Most people can get some mild exercise in the first 2 weeks.

Also at 2 weeks or when all the scabs are gone is when I encourage patients to start massaging their incisions. Massage has been shown to reduce the amount of scar tissue that the body produces and it also softens the scar faster than no massage. For it to be effective, however, one must push hard enough that it feels uncomfortable and do the massage more than 4-5 times per day spending 5-10 minutes for each session. There is no cream or lubricant on the market that improves scarring….you can spend money on things like Maderma or Bio-oil or you can use Vaseline or plain vitamin E oil….it is the massage not the lubricant on the skin that is helping your scar.

The only product currently available (by prescription) that improves scarring and quickens healing over and above massage is silicone gel strips (not silicone gel that’s sold in pharmacies). The sheets cause pressure on the scar and will flatten and soften it!

 

Lasering your scar can also help reduce its thickness, width, and redness but again costs money.

 

Finally, scars at 3-6 months after surgery should be softening and improving and not getting worse. The colour in the scar will take up to 2 years to disappear so be patient and of course for the first year, sun exposure to the scar should be avoided with the use of sunblock or just by covering it because if it burns in the sun it will change colour, it will go paler in people with lighter, pinker skin, and darker brownish in people with more pigment in their skin.

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