Best Way to Get Rid of Mastectomy Scars

Best Way to Get Rid of Mastectomy Scars

Mastectomy scars can, unfortunately, be quite extensive. If breast reconstruction is not performed at the same time as the mastectomy, the resulting scars can be quite long, running from next to the breastbone to the side of the chest or armpit area. Along with restoring the size and shape of the breast, reconstruction also helps limits scarring when performed at the same time as the mastectomy. Some types of reconstruction can also increase the amount of overall scarring: if the patient’s own tissue is used for the reconstruction instead of implants (eg from the woman’s back, abdomen, buttocks or thighs), additional scarring is created at the site of the tissue harvest.

Scars are not only a cosmetic concern. Some scars can cause pain, tightness, or itching. You will want to do everything you can to minimize the scarring caused by your mastectomy to enhance the way you look and feel.

One of the most important things you can do to minimize scarring is to prevent infection in the post-surgery period. Patients are often sent home from surgery with drains that remove excess fluids from the area. These drains are usually removed a few days later. Once this happens, you should keep the incision as clean as you can so that it can continue to heal fully. Follow your doctor’s instructions for bandaging and cleaning the area. Infection can not only put the reconstruction at risk (especially reconstruction with implants), it will also worsen scarring, so decreasing the chances of developing an infection is very important.

Massaging the scar after it has fully healed can help by breaking down scar tissue and improving blood flow. This helps soften the scar and also brings more oxygen and nutrients to the wound which can promote healing and reduce scarring. Be sure to get the “all-clear” from your doc before starting scar massage to ensure your incisions are ready.

It is also important to eat a healthy diet and stay well hydrated while your are healing. This will help in several ways. First, staying well hydrated means more moisture in your skin and at the site of the scars. Skin moisture improves healing. Some of the nutrients you eat can also work to lessen the appearance of scars. Ingredients known to be helpful for healing include vitamins A and C, zinc, and protein. Finally, a healthy diet and proper hydration will promote overall health, helping you feel better, faster after surgery.

Feeling better means you may feel more like exercising once given the all-clear by your surgeon. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow and improves healing. After a mastectomy, you may not feel like doing much at first. Even if you can only walk for a few minutes, that’s a start! Slowly build back up to a level of exercise that you and your doctor are comfortable with.

Also try a silicone-containing gel. Topical silicone has been shown to reduce the appearance of scars, making them lighter, flatter, and softer. Follow the instructions that come with the product you choose. Stick with the recommended frequency and duration of treatment for the best results.

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Breast Cancer Scar Healing

Breast Cancer Scar Healing

Almost always, breast cancer involves some type of surgery, and scars are a normal part of your healing process. Scars that form after lumpectomies may involve only part of the breast, or you may have larger scars from a mastectomy procedure. Radiation therapy can also leave scars, ranging from temporary sunburn-type marks to radiation fibrosis or thickening of the tissues. Scars are inevitable and most people look to diminish the appearance as soon as possible.

Minimize Scarring with Preventive Measures

Preventing infection after surgery is one of the most important ways to limit scarring. Carefully following your doctor’s instructions post-surgery, keeping the incision site as clean as possible, and not smoking will help you accomplish this. Exercise also helps with scar healing; brisk walking increases circulation, bringing lots of healing oxygen and nutrients to the area and carrying away waste products. Chemotherapy and surgery can be exhausting, so if you can only manage five minutes at first, that’s fine – you can work your way up to an hour or so a day as you feel able, but be sure to get clearance and guidance from your doctor before you start.

Another way to minimize scarring is to massage the area after surgery once the skin has healed. This increases blood flow to the area, promotes healing, and keeps the scar soft. Professional massage may be even more effective. The vigorous massage techniques used by physical therapists, in addition to improving the aesthetic appearance of scars, can help relieve pain and feelings of tightness in the surgical area. Incidentally, yoga and stretching exercises are other good ways to relieve pain and promote healing. Once again, be sure to get your doctor’s “OK” before starting.

Helping Scars Heal

Fortunately, there are effective and simple topical scar remedies available. Silicone gel has been shown to have a dramatic lessening effect on the appearance of scars. You can apply it to the scar and wear it under clothes, and it will work around the clock to reduce the color and texture of scars by up to 80%. Silicone works by promoting hydration in the area, regulating collagen production, and reducing the itching and other discomfort scars can cause.

Aloe Vera is another ingredient to look for in a scar treatment –or to use alone. By forming a protective layer and introducing moisture, Aloe Vera has a host of benefits for the skin, and it is especially beneficial when it comes to scars. Its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties help with preventing infection and promoting complete healing. It strengthens the collagen structure in the scar, improves inflammation and pain, and its polysaccharides are thought to promote skin repair and growth.

Finally, Vitamin C can be consumed or applied topically and is able to help speed the healing process. Vitamin C supplements, moisturizers containing vitamin C, and scar treatment gels and creams containing Vitamin C or citrus ingredients can promote scar healing. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, apricots, grapes, and apples can also have a positive effect.

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