If you are planning to have any type of surgery, whether it is elective or not, you may be wondering what to expect concerning your scar. Most surgical procedures will leave some type of scar, and these scars do indeed change quite a bit after the surgery and over time.
Scar tissue is not as strong as normal skin. For several weeks after the surgery takes place, it is easy to reopen a wound through minimal accidental trauma. By the time six weeks have passed, if normal healing is taking place, the scar tissue has about half the strength it will ever gain. The scar’s final ability to withstand trauma or injury gradually increases over the next one to two years. However, it will never regain the normal strength of uninjured skin.
Most of the collagen, which is the main component of scar tissue, has formed in the area by four to six weeks after the wound has closed and begun to heal. The scar will usually appear firm, red, and raised during this time. The rate of collagen production will change over the next several months. When healing is normal, normal amounts and types of collagen are present in the area. The redness of the scar fading and the scar itself beginning to soften are also signs of normal healing. Most patients can expect it to take at least one year for the scar’s final appearance to become apparent. In children, scars may continue to change for several years.
Read: Do Scars Grow With Age?
If you are unhappy with the red appearance of a scar, and it is a relatively new scar, realize that it will likely fade a good deal on its own (although not disappear completely; scars are permanent). Be sure to avoid exposing the scar to sunlight; use sunscreen, cover the scar with clothing, or stay indoors. UV rays do not only damage normal skin; they also damage scar tissue and can make it look darker or redder. These changes are sometimes permanent.
You can also cover a scar with makeup in some cases. If the sutures have been removed and the wound is healed, you can gently apply concealer or other makeup to conceal the scar as it heals. Remember that makeup by itself does not protect the scar from sun damage; also use sunscreen, or choose a makeup that contains sunscreen as one of its ingredients.
Scars do change in appearance significantly after surgery, as time passes and the scar begins to heal. Keep in mind that how much your scar changes, and what type of changes you notice, depend largely on how you care for the scar as it heals, your diet and lifestyle choices, and whether you are darker or lighter skinned. Be sure to exercise regularly (once you’re cleared by your doctor to do so) and eat a healthy diet; also use scar treatment products that contain ingredients known to help scars fade and soften, such as silicone and Vitamin C. Following these and other steps for scar healing will ensure that the kinds of changes you see in your post-surgical scar are the ones you want.
Do you have a question about your scar? Leave us a comment and we’ll be happy to answer.
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