Any time there is any type of damage to the skin, even a controlled incision, there is a potential risk of scarring. While most patients expect scarring on the skin, many are surprised to learn that scar tissue can build up under the skin as well. When scar tissue forms under the skin, it can make the contour of the skin appear irregular. For example, if scar tissue develops between the skin and underlying cartilage after rhinoplasty, the scar tissue can affect the appearance of the nose. While scar tissue may form after any surgery, there are things patients can do to reduce its occurrence.
Compression – To help the skin conform to its now contours after surgery, surgeons use compression techniques to press the skin against the underlying body structures. After facial plastic surgery, medical tape may be used to compress the skin. After body contouring surgery, compression garments may be worn to compress the skin. After breast surgery, special surgical bras may be worn to compress the skin.
Don’t Strain – Any activity that strains a patient or raises his or her blood pressure may increase the risk of scar tissue formation.
Avoid smoking – Smoking is one of those habits with a lot of negative side effects – one of them being an increased susceptibility to developing scar tissue. Patients who are looking to decrease the risk of scarring should ditch those cigarettes. Patients who don’t want to completely give up smoking, should at least quit smoking two weeks before surgery, and for as long as is recommended after surgery.
Avoid drinking – Alcohol consumption is another habit that can lead to an increased susceptibility to complications after surgery. The reason for this is because alcohol easily dehydrates the skin. The more hydration the skin has access to, the more likely it is to heal quickly.
Avoid caffeine – Caffeine can also dehydrate the body. While the incisions are healing, make sure to stick to non-caffeinated drinks.
Stay within a healthy weight range – This is one tip that can make a huge difference in whether or not a patient will develop scars. Of course, no one can lose a healthy amount of weight two weeks before surgery, so it’s important to create a weight loss plan. Talk to a plastic surgeon well in advance about a plan for losing weight prior to surgery.
Develop proper nutrition habits – What goes into the body really affects the way that the skin looks. During the healing process, patients should strive to eat a balanced diet. Increase protein intake with healthy, lean proteins. Consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Stay hydrated – Drink enough water and fluids with electrolytes to keep the skin well hydrated.
Follow recovery instructions – Patients will receive a list of instructions from the doctor telling them exactly what to do in order to heal properly from plastic surgery. Take these instructions seriously.
Avoid the sun – While relaxing in the sun may sound like a great way to recover, the sun can actually do a lot of damage to the skin, especially when when healing.