Scar management

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Scar Management for Optimal Healing

 The three things that determine the appearance of a healed wound are an expert repair by your plastic surgeon, individual genetics, and postoperative scar management.  Once the sutures have been removed, you can treat the healing incision to maximize your cosmetic result.  Your doctor may reapply a steristrip to the incision after suture removal.  This is to support the healing for another few days, and it is permitted to shower, bathe and shampoo normally.  However, once the steristrip comes off it is time to start scar management.

 Our recommendation is to use sun block during the day and a moisturizer or Vitamin E oil at night.  Sunlight has a tendency to "activate" scars, increasing the redness and sensitivity, and possibly pigmenting your scar.  Start your day by applying a sun block with an SPF of 15 or higher before going out of the house.  Makeup may be applied over this. If you will be spending the day in the sun you may have to reapply the sun block.  Do not use bacitracin ointment because this is oil based and will increase the sun's rays.  At bedtime, apply a moisturizer to help soften the scar.  This may be a commercial moisturizer, cocoa butter or aloe lotion depending on your preference.  Some people prefer Vitamin E oil which can be obtained by opening Vitamin E capsules from the drugstore.

 Recently a product called ScarGuard ( has appeared.  This product contains all the necessary ingredients for optimal wound healing and minimal scar formation.  I believe this works better that vitamin E alone and hence am recommending it.  It can be purchased though their web site or may be purchased at my office.

 You will notice that all scars, especially in children, go through an early phase of redness and thickening, becoming more noticeable in the first two months.  This is frustrating, but normal and usually temporary.  Scar management as described will minimize but not eliminate this phase.  Most scars "fade out" over 6-12 months.  However, if a scar remains a problem, the doctor may employ other techniques to deal with a very pronounced scar.  These include gel sheeting, injection treatment or pressure garments.  Surgical revision of a well-closed incision is usually reserved for scars that have failed to resolve satisfactorily after 6-12 months treatment. 

 Remember to be patient, TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE!


Copyright 2002-2004  Alex Keller, MD, FACS. pc.  All rights reserved.