Any time there is a cut in the skin, there is a risk of scarring. This is true whether it is from an accidental injury or a surgical incision.

A scar is not inherently a bad thing. In fact, it’s part of your body’s remarkable ability to heal itself. However, if it isn’t small or in a location that’s easy to conceal, you may wonder if there is a way to treat it.

At AF Aesthetics, we offer a variety of options for scar reduction. These treatments can provide a more pleasing cosmetic result for all types of post-surgical scars.

Why Do Surgical Scars Occur?

Some level of scarring is expected with any surgery. When an incision is made, your body leaps into action to repair the damage. This process includes producing new tissue, made primarily of a protein called collagen, to stitch the wound together. The ideal end result of a surgical procedure is a good-quality scar that is well-placed and able to be camouflaged.

The extent of scarring after a surgical procedure depends on a combination of factors, including the size, location, depth and number of incisions. Various personal factors also come into play, as well as how well you adhere to your surgeon’s aftercare instructions during recovery.

How Do Surgical Scars Differ From Other Scars?

Surgical scars are typically cosmetically better than scars resulting from a traumatic injury. This is because surgical scars are created with a surgeon’s thoughtful placement and skilful incision technique. After surgery, they are placed in an ideal environment for healing and supported with advanced wound care techniques.

However, it is not possible to guarantee a good scar. Abnormal wound healing can occur due to factors beyond the surgeon’s and patient’s control, resulting in prominent scars such as hypertrophic and keloid types.

Do Surgical Scars Ever Go Away?

Scars will nearly always fade and flatten as they mature, but the timeline for this to occur is variable, and they are not expected to disappear entirely. The ultimate appearance and quality of a scar cannot be predicted.

How Long Does It Take for an Incision To Heal?

In most cases, a surgical incision completes initial healing in about two weeks. More complex incisions can take longer to heal. Around the three-month mark, the tissue is about 80% as strong as it was before the incision.

What Are the Risk Factors for Post-Surgical Scarring?

While everyone can scar after surgery, certain factors can increase your likelihood or extent of scarring. Some of the risk factors that may increase surgical scars include:

  • Age — skin loses elasticity and becomes thinner with age, which reduces its ability to heal after surgery or injury
  • Race — certain ethnic groups (particularly individuals of African or Asian descent) are more likely to experience excessive scar formation
  • Genetics — if your family members scar frequently or severely, you may have a genetic predisposition to scarring
  • Lifestyle — scarring can be worsened by smoking, sun exposure, and other lifestyle factors
  • Incision length and depth — longer or deeper incisions are more likely to leave behind conspicuous scarring
  • Incision location — certain areas of the body are more prone to prominent scarring, including the shoulders, chest, elbows, knees and ears
  • Personal healing rate — if your skin naturally needs more time to heal, you may be at a higher risk of developing noticeable scarring after surgery
  • Health conditions — certain health conditions may make the skin fragile or increase the risk of excessive wound healing
  • Tension on the wound — stress or tension on a healing incision may increase the severity of scarring

What Are the Stages of Wound Healing?

Your body heals a wound in four stages.

Stage 1: Hemostasis

The first stage of wound healing is to stop bleeding. In this phase, your body activates its blood clotting system to block the drainage and help close the wound. This usually takes place within a few minutes.

Stage 2: Inflammation

During the second stage of wound healing, white blood cells and enzymes enter the wound area to stave off infection by destroying bacteria and clearing debris. This prepares the wound bed for new tissue growth.

Stage 3: Proliferation

The proliferation phase is devoted to filling and covering the wound with new tissue. During this stage, the new tissue is typically red or pink and uneven in texture. Your body also forms new blood vessels to ensure the new tissue receives sufficient oxygen and nutrients.

Stage 4: Maturation

The final remodelling phase can occur over months or years. During this stage, the new tissue gradually becomes stronger and more flexible. This is when the scar becomes thinner, flatter and more faded in colour.

How Can I Minimise Post-Surgical Scarring?

It is possible to minimise scarring by taking good care of your incisions after surgery. Follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions closely. These may include:

  • Temporarily avoiding exercise and other rigorous activities
  • Massaging the scar tissue
  • Avoiding direct or prolonged sun exposure
  • Avoiding pulling and tension on the wound
  • Keeping the incision clean, dry and sterile
  • Applying silicone sheets or gel over the scar
  • Avoiding smoking and alcohol
  • Watching for signs of infection
  • Eating healthy and staying hydrated
  • Getting enough rest

To support scar healing further, we offer a dedicated treatment protocol with Vbeam for post-op surgical wounds. Evidence suggests that early treatment of young scars may provide an improved cosmetic outcome by supporting the proliferation and maturation stages of wound healing. This protocol should ideally be started within the first four weeks after surgery.

What Are My Surgical Scar Treatment Options?

Many patients experience success improving the appearance of scars with the help of medical professionals. At AF Aesthetics, your options for Sydney scar treatment include:

  • CO2RE: ablative laser resurfacing to smooth raised scars and reduce hyperpigmentation
  • PicoWay: non-ablative laser resurfacing for scar remodelling
  • Vbeam Prima: treatment with a vascular laser to reduce redness in scars and improve long-term scar appearance
  • Secret or Profound: radiofrequency microneedling for collagen remodelling to diminish the appearance of scars

Different scars need different treatments. Our providers will tailor their approach to your individual needs.

Request a Consultation for Surgical Scar Minimisation at AF Aesthetics

As medical techniques continue to evolve, surgeons are able to minimise intrusive scarring after procedures. However, scarring is an integral part of the body’s healing process, and scars are always a possible side effect of undergoing an operation.

Fortunately, we have many treatments available that can help improve the appearance of more noticeable surgical scars. Request your consultation at AF Aesthetics today using our online form or by calling 02 8004 3323.

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