Scar tissue is a natural part of the body’s healing mechanism. When any part of the body receives an injury, it will work quickly to heal the injury. This repair process creates scar tissue. Scar tissue acts differently than normal tissue, and it may contain damaged cells, which is why it looks different than the tissue around it. Although most people think scars only affect the skin’s surface, scar tissue can also occur on any tissue in the body, including internal organs.
Although it is part of the healing process, scar tissue may end up causing problems, especially when it leads to adhesions. For most people, scar tissue causes most problems on the skin itself by leaving a life-long reminder of the surgery. By knowing what to expect after surgery, you can minimize the appearance of scars and other potential complications, including helping to reduce the time a scar takes to fade.
Scar Tissue on the Skin
Surgery typically includes an incision of the skin, usually extending through all the layers of the skin. Surgeons try to minimize the size of their incisions to reduce the amount of scar tissue that develops. The main factors determining the amount of scarring after surgery, beyond the skill level of the doctor, are age, race, genetic makeup, the size and depth of the incision, and the extent of the surgery. Initially, scar tissue will be pink, red or purple, due to the injury to the blood vessels and the inflammatory response that is part of the body’s reaction to any injury.
Over time, as the skin heals, scarring will fade and become closer to your skin’s natural pigmentation. However, many scars also turn white due to damage to the cells that control pigmentation. After surgery, the incision area will be sensitive and weaker than normal skin, so you should rest and avoid any movement or stress that could place too much stress on the healing incision.
What are Adhesions?
Although most people only focus on scar tissue after surgery on the skin, surgery can also cause internal scar tissue called adhesions. An adhesion is scar tissue that binds together two pieces of internal tissue or organs, even if they are not supposed to be connected. This distorts the normal internal anatomy, which can then cause problems.
The most common areas of adhesions are in the abdomen, heart and the pelvic area. Almost 93 percent of patients who undergo any type of pelvic or abdominal surgery end up with adhesions. Adhesions can be thin sheets of the tissue that may look similar to plastic wrap or strong, fibrous bands that can cause serious complications. Most adhesions are harmless and will go away on their own, but some adhesions can lead to complications and further problems.
How to Minimize the Appearance of Scars
Although doctors do everything they can to minimize any scar tissue, there are some actions you can take to prevent or minimize their appearance. Scars develop as part of the body’s natural healing processes. The faster and more efficiently the body heals, the reduced risk of scarring, or the faster it will take for the scar to go away. By avoiding smoking and drinking, eating a healthy diet, and staying hydrated, you will provide the body with the best foundation to heal properly. You should also practice proper wound care, which includes keeping your fresh scar covered and out of the sun, as well as following all your doctor’s instructions. It takes time for the skin to fully heal and for the scar to mature and look its best, often up to a year or even two. By taking appropriate care of your fresh scar and yourself, and using a good scar minimizing cream once the skin has healed, you’ll give your scar the best chance of fading.
Do you have a question about your scars? Leave a comment and we’ll be happy to help.
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