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Post-surgery scar and wound care advice

When considering cosmetic surgery, many patients have concerns about the scarring and wound care following a procedure.

April 10th, 2019 |Ask an Expert

No cosmetic surgery procedure is without risk of scarring when there is an incision made, this is a natural part of the recovery process, however, some procedures such as a breast reduction, mastopexy or tummy tuck are likely to have larger scars due to the size of the incisions made.  

Will my breasts scar after breast surgery? 

Yes, scarring is to be expected following any breast surgery. Incisions are commonly made in the fold below the breast (inframammary incision), to reduce the appearance of scarring. It typically takes 6-8 weeks for scars to heal, but it can take up to 1 year post-op to see the final result.  

Breast enlargement patients, should expect a small scar around 3-5cm along the breast crease, where the surgeon has made an incision to insert the breast implants.  

Patients having breast uplift or breast reduction procedures, should expect an anchor scar or lollipop scar. These procedures require the surgeon to make an incision around the areola and vertically down from the nipple to the breast crease to uplift and reposition the breasts or to remove any excess breast tissue.

How do I look after my scars post-procedure?  

Following any cosmetic surgery procedure, it is vital that you adhere to MYA’s pre and post-op care instructions provided by your surgeon and clinical team. These can be found in your patient portal to refer back to. Wound care is an essential part of your recovery, and wound healing varies from patient to patient, and even from one part of the body to another, therefore, you must follow the clinical guidance provided to you.  

Key factors that benefit wound care and recovery: 

  • Having a healthy, balanced diet, rich in nutrients and protein, helps the body to recover and repair and encourages wound healing. 

  • Washing your hands before and after touching your scar and any associated wound dressings.

  • Abstaining from alcohol for 2 weeks post-op. Drinking alcohol can result in delayed wound healing. 

  • Waiting till your clinical team advises it is safe to do so, before applying any creams, bio oil or skin products to your scars.  

  • Not using sunbeds – avoiding the direct sunlight and covering your scars with sunblock.  

  • Patients are required to stop smoking 4 weeks prior to surgery and 2 weeks following surgery. Nicotine can hinder your cosmetic surgery results; we recommend remaining nicotine-free until you are fully healed to achieve the best possible results. 

  • Abstaining from recreational drugs.

Follow the instructions your MYA surgeon and nurse give you about how to care for your wounds after surgery. 

How long will my scars take to heal? 

Scars can take 6-8 weeks to heal following a cosmetic surgery procedure. This can vary amongst patients, and is dependent on skin quality, wound care and genetics. Most scars typically heal to leave a red, raised line, which will gradually get paler and flatter over time. It can take up to 1 year post-op for scars to fully fade and it is unlikely they will completely disappear. Check out our scarring guide for more information. 

Some patients are more prone than others to developing raised scarring due to excess collagen being produced at the site of a wound. Patients with darker skin tones tend to form thicker scars commonly known as keloid scarring (this may have been noticeable in the past). If you have previously had any problems with scarring such as red or raised scars, it is important to inform your MYA surgeon of this at your consultation.

What is keloid scarring? 

Keloid scarring is an enlarged, itchy, raised scar that can be pink, skin-coloured or darker than the surrounding skin. Some keloid scarring grows outside of the margins of the incision into normal skin/tissue. Surgeons will treat keloid scars with cortisone steroid injections or recommend silicone dressings to help reduce the size and appearance of the scars.  

Can my scars get infected following breast surgery?  

Surgical site infections are rare and can occur in less than 1% of breast augmentation procedures at MYA. Wound healing varies from patient to patient, and is a gradual process. 

Smoking, nicotine patches, use of e-cigarettes for the period leading up to surgery, and afterwards, can seriously hinder the healing process and increase the risk of infection. A surgical wound infection can develop at any time from two to three days after surgery until the wound has healed. Very occasionally, an infection can occur several months after an operation. 

Symptoms of infection include the breasts feeling swollen and tender, there may be wound discharge and you may feel unwell with a raised temperature. Infections can be treated with antibiotics but is not always necessary. Your doctor will assess and decide if treatment is required. If you experience any symptoms of infection, contact MYA via the clinic or the 24 hours out of hours support line. 

When can I shower/get my scars wet after a breast augmentation, breast uplift and breast reduction? 

Typically, patients are able to get their scars wet from 7-10 days post-op but should not submerge their wounds in water until they are fully healed and signed off by a MYA nurse. Always check with your MYA Nurse before doing so, as every patient’s journey is slightly different. 

When can I use bio oil on my scars following a breast augmentation? 

Patients are able to use bio oil and similar skincare products on their scars once they are fully healed 6-8 weeks post-surgery, following sign off from their MYA Nurse or Surgeon. 

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