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Plastic Surgery Scars 101: An Overview

By Cathy Enns
 
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Plastic Surgery Scars 101: An Overview 3 5 115
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Photo: Getty Images

Scars are the inevitable result of any surgical procedure, but plastic surgery scars seem especially ironic. After all, whether it’s reconstructive or cosmetic surgery a patient is seeking, at least a good part of the reason is to look better. Occasionally a scar may blemish an otherwise pleasing result, and some patients seek what’s known as “scar revision.”

First, what exactly is a scar? Smith & Nephew, an international medical device manufacturer, maintains a Scar Information Service as part of its Wound Management website. The organization presents a comprehensive overview of scars that’s a useful read for people considering surgery (see below for links).

Smith & Nephew explained that the skin’s ability to form new cells allows it to repair itself following a wound. The result is a scar. In the case of plastic surgery, damage occurs not only on the surface but on deeper layers of tissue as well. This prompts the body to generate collagen fibers to repair the wound, which look different than normal surface skin. The result is most often a scar that’s noticeable (Smith & Nephew 1).

The website went on to say that it can take up to two years for the look of a scar to be final. Collagen continues to be produced and blood vessels gradually return, meaning that a scar will usually improve in appearance for a time. Most will remain visible, according to Smith & Nephew, and scars do not allow hair to re-grow (Smith & Nephew 1).

The Smith & Nephew site presents a complete list of scars, from flat, pale scars that are common to almost everyone to the more obvious raised, red scars called “hypertropic” or “keloid” scars some people develop to stretch marks and acne scars (Smith & Nephew 2).

If you’re considering plastic surgery, scars are one factor to weigh in your decision. Different procedures pose different scarring possibilities, and it’s a good idea to understand your potential outcome thoroughly.

* Some incisions can be completely hidden; therefore you won’t need to worry about visible scars after healing. This can be the case for lower eyelid surgery (ASPS 1), and cheek or chin implants (ASPS 2), for example.

Add a Comment5 Comments

EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous

Great article. I'd love to see some of the scar procedures listed though, like:

- Light therapy
- PDL
- Microdermabrasion

January 21, 2014 - 1:03pm
rheaseo25

Scar happens when the outer part of the skin, the dermis, is damaged. This is natural and is relative the body’s capability to heal wound. Bad scarring may occur from certain type of cosmetic surgery. This is just a minor risk though because there are many treatments to treat scarring. But then again, prevention is better than cure, so better avoid the factors that could harm you.

June 27, 2011 - 8:10pm
FoodieDave1

This is why non-invasive procedures are needed, and on the rise. Products like Zerona use low level laser technology to penetrate the skin, emptying the fat cells of their content without pain or scars. The same technology is used to eliminate scars, burns and pain.

June 3, 2011 - 3:37pm
laurie.andreoni

Thanks for this well timed article, Cathy. Not only am I in contact with many women facing surgery, but I'm also having a major surgery within a couple of months. I appreciate all the information I can find on reducing scars.
All the best,
Laurie

June 3, 2011 - 8:25am
Cathy Enns (reply to laurie.andreoni)

Thanks for leaving your thoughts, Laurie. And good luck with your surgery! I have two more articles on scars to publish next week--there was too much material to write just one article! So please stay tuned if you can.

In the meantime, I do recommend the Smith & Nephew site I referenced in this article. It's a good one.

Regards

Cathy

June 3, 2011 - 4:23pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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