Scarring After Breast Surgery

21 July, 2020 Nurse Justine

If you're getting a surgical procedure that involves cutting through multiple layers of skin - you will have some sort of scar.

A skilled surgeon will try to minimise the size and appearance of the scar by strategic placements and surgical techniques, but unfortunately scarring is largely related to factors outside of your control, such as genetics and age.

P.s. A surgeon who advertises a "scarless breast surgery" is just using a fancy marketing term that utilises a modern-day method of suturing or stitching, which results in a LESS visible scar than older, traditional methods.

Breast surgery pic

Come on, how could this NOT leave a scar?!

Time (and Care) Heals All Wounds

I have a lot of patients messaging me in the very early stages of their recovery wondering if their scars are healing properly. Scars tend to look their worst at around 2-3 months post surgery and will take approximately ONE YEAR to fully heal and fade to white.

Scar Timeline After Surgery

12 hours – 5 days: The inflammatory phase

This stage of healing begins about 12 hours after surgery and continues for approximately 5 days. During this phase the body releases blood and other products to help close the wound.

1 day – 7 days: The proliferation phase

During this stage the skin prepares to create the scaffolding upon which the more permanent scar tissue will be built.

2 weeks – 1 year: The Maturation phase

The body works hard to lay the collagen to reconfigure the scar. After 2 months the scar may still have a reddish, raised appearance. After time, even the most thickened red or purple scars will become pale and flat.

6 Weeks Postop

3 Months Postop

12 Months Postop

Scar Therapy Timeline

Follow your postop instructions, do not use products that have not been recommended to you.

0 - 6 Weeks

LED Light Therapy is recommended in the early postoperative period.

It's important to keep the incisions taped until six weeks postop to help support the surgical incision – which will reduce scarring.

6 Weeks - 6 Months

  • For larger incisions - MEDISIL Silicone Tape
  • For smaller incisions - Strataderm Scar Gel

6 Months - 1 Year

Use a good quality moisturiser over the incisions to keep the skin hydrated. When applying moisturiser massage in a circular fashion to help break down bands of dense scar tissue.

Scar Care Tips

  • No Smoking: smoking increases your risk of scars because it delays healing by restricting blood flow.
  • No Alcohol: Alcohol dehydrates the skin and body.
  • Nutrition: Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in proteins. Protein is essential to a quick recovery. Protein can include meat, seafood, dairy, and soy products.
  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water. Limit tea and coffee which act as a diuretic and may dehydrate you.
  • Weight: The fat under your skin may interfere with surgical wound closure after the operation. It is important to ensure you are within a healthy weight range.
  • Rest: Follow your postop instructions! Do not go back to activity sooner than recommended.
  • Identifying Infection: An infection can lead to scarring due to a delay in wound healing. Notify your surgeon if you experience any redness, heat, swelling, or pain around your incisions.
  • Chronic Illness: Certain illnesses can delay wound healing which results in greater scarring. Chronic illnesses should be well-controlled after surgery.
  • Stress on the Incisions: This comes back to following the postop instructions. Do not lift, bend, stretch or put tension on your incisions.
  • Sun Exposure: Avoid sun exposure and use appropriate SPF until at least one year postop. The sun can cause hyper-pigmentation (darkening) of the scars.

More Information

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Or just feel free to email me your thoughts! I would love to hear from you :)

justine@drchinsee.com.au