Demystifying Scar Prevention
Posted by Dr. Sam Rizk July, 07/12/2017 - 07:48 PM
Facial plastic surgery procedures involve some incisions (albeit small ones that can usually be hidden in the skin’s natural folds). Incisions provide the surgeon with access to the skin, soft tissue, muscles, and fat that must be pulled, removed or re-placed during your procedure. All incisions will take time to heal, and scars are part of the body’s natural healing process.
We all heal (and thus, scar) differently. If you have ever had an injury or even acne as a teen, you may have a pretty good idea about how you scar. Some scars will end up flat while others may be raised and remain red or discolored for longer. Older scars may turn white when they mature. Some scars will be practically invisible to the naked eye if you are lucky. We may not always like the way scars look, and for the most part, they don’t disappear on their own.
When an incision is made during surgery, our body amps up production of collagen to kick-start the healing process. Collagen is one of the main proteins that gives skin its elastic properties. Too much collagen equals a raised red scar, while too little may produce an indented one. (As an aside, many of our most popular minimally invasive treatments seek to replenish our natural collagen stores.)
Dr. Rizk’s observations:
It’s normal to be nervous about scarring when you are considering a facial plastic surgery procedure, such as a facelift or blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). The good news is that with rhinoplasty, we primarily use a closed approach, which allows for no external scar. In some cases, such as complex secondary rhinoplasty procedures, an external incision may be unavoidable to product the most natural looking result.
We are always very proactive in promoting optimum healing to prevent visible scars before surgery. I arm all of my patients with a supply of Arnica Montana pellets and gel. There is an enormous body of medical literature supporting its use to prevent inflammation following surgery. I also suggest 2,000 mg daily of Vitamin C, which is a water-soluble nutrient that the body uses to construct tissues like skin, hair and nails. It also works to minimize bleeding and swelling. For optimum healing, I am a big proponent of Tissue Glue, especially for facelifts, eyelid surgery and nose reshaping procedures. This helps bond the tissues together so they heal faster. Tissue glues also reduce bruising and swelling. The more precise the surgeon, the lower the risk for large scars. We use 3D-imaging during surgery so I can see muscles, blood vessels and other structures. It also allows for shorter incisions by providing up-close-and-personal visualization of facial structures that are to be lifted or repositioned. This technique is precision in action.
There’s more you can do too to promote faster healing. Eating a healthy diet before and after surgery makes a difference as it keeps your body in prime healing condition. We know that smoking increase risk of scars and poor wound healing, so it is important to quit at least 3 weeks before your surgery and stay the course until your incisions are fully healed. Follow your comprehensive post-surgical instructions carefully including avoiding sun exposure to the incision area, as this can lead to increased risk of skin darkening and scarring. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 30 or higher all over – especially in the incision area.
Remember to discuss your concerns with your facial plastic surgeon during your consultation, and share any information about your scarring history so you can develop an action plan to minimize any scarring after your procedure.