Surgery involves incisions, and incisions mean scars. There really isn’t any sugarcoating these facts. Another fact: Everyone scars differently. Some of us develop much more noticeable red, raised scars. While this may not be a big deal on some parts of the body, scars that appear on the face or neck can be difficult to camouflage. This can be especially troubling when the scarring is a result of the same cosmetic facial surgery you underwent to look and feel better about yourself.

There is no magic bullet that is guaranteed to prevent scars (and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise), but following this 4-step plan is the best way to reduce your chances of developing a noticeable scar that won’t fade as quickly as you would like.

1. Choose a skilled facial plastic surgeon.

We create cleaner incisions that are more likely to heal without event, and we pride ourselves on smaller incisions. We also know how to hide an incision/scar naturally, say behind the ear or hairline following a facelift. I pioneered 3-D endoscopic high definition facelifts, necklifts 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.

2. Tell your doctor if you have a history of bad scarring.

Knowledge is power. He or she can be sure to take every necessary precaution to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Every scar is different and each location on your face or body also heals differently.

3. 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, so keep your hands to yourself and avoid rubbing or touching the scar area during the healing process.

4. Stay out of the sun.

Keep your wound out of the sun while it is healing. A fresh scar is very susceptible to the sun and can turn permanently dark. Make sure your scar is well protected from direct sunlight especially during the early stages.

5. Use silicone sheeting or other products to reduce scarring.

Your facial plastic surgeon may have some very specific recommendations on what products to use and how to best use them. Certain herbal preparations such as arnica and bromelain may also play an important role in speeding healing and minimizing scarring. Bromelain reduces tissue swelling, accelerating the wound healing process. I recommend bromelain to all of my patients.

The bottom line is to listen to your facial plastic surgeon.