New research suggests that stromal cell-derived-factor-1 (SDF1), a compound secreted in the blood, may be the reason that wounds in older people heal with less scarring than wounds in younger people, but blocking SDF1 – with drugs that are already available- could modify scar formation, potentially providing a path to scar-less healing. The findings appear in Cell Reports.

This is really exciting stuff, and I can’t wait to see where this research takes us. It’s hard to hide scars on the face, so scar minimization is a really important part of a facial cosmetic surgeon’s job description. Unfortunately, it is impossible to fully prevent scars. Surgery involves incisions, and incisions mean scars. Now, everyone scars differently, and you don’t always know how you scar until you…scar. That said, there are things you can do today to reduce risk of bad scarring after facial cosmetic surgery.

For starters, don’t pick at the scab. While the body works to heal the incision, it creates a scab over the wound to protect it from germs. Picking at the scab will increase the chances of developing a noticeable scar.

Staying out of the sun also can prevent a bad scar from forming. A new scar is very susceptible to the sun and can turn permanently dark. Always cover the incision area so it is not directly exposed to sunlight.

Using silicone sheeting or other products will also reduce scarring. Your facial plastic surgeon may have some very specific recommendations on what products to use and how to best use them. Listen to his or her advice. Certain herbal preparations such as arnica and bromelain may also play an important role in speeding healing and minimizing scarring. If you have a history of developing bad scars, let your doctor know in advance as this may help with the planning of the incision.

I have a tremendous deal of experience crafting small, precise and clean incisions that can be hidden naturally behind the ear or hairline following a facelift. I pioneered 3-D endoscopic high definition facelifts, necklift and rhinoplasty for many reasons including dramatic scar reduction. The imaging improves my view of the interior structures of the face, allowing me to be even more precise in every part of the procedure. The greater the precision, the smaller the incision, the smaller the scar.

As we wait for the research to be borne out, practice these tried-and-true ways to reduce your risk of developing an unsightly scar, and always choose a board certified facial plastic surgeon with experience and expertise in planning cosmetic surgeries.