QUESTION: What do you put on a surgical incision to make the scar less visible once it has healed?
I'm Dr. Rodney Chan and I'm a STARS Plastic Surgeon in San Antonio TX.
How to make scars heal better - As a plastic surgeon, this is a question I get asked a lot. Even though a variety of creams, lotions, and oils advertise on the internet as effective scar prevention, finding out the truth can be challenging for anyone, even for healthcare providers. In this short video, I'd like to give you three pointers to keep in mind if just had surgery or will be having surgery and is worried about your scar.
(1) always consult your surgeon before putting something on your fresh incision. aside from yourself, your surgeon has the most vested interest in making you and your surgical incision look good as possible - if you are my patient, your incision is indicative of my work and I will do everything to make it look good. When it comes to put something on the incision that you think maybe harmless, think twice because sometime these topical treatments can have adverse effects and if that happens to increase your chance of getting an infection, your scar be surely be worse.
(2) early incisions tend to be red and raised. with time, the redness and the thickness of the scar with fade and get better on their own. so beware of someone who tells you that they put this magical potion on their incision and the scar miraculously went away. Remember, we are all different and we don't scar the same way. more importantly, you don't really know whether the scar appearance is the result of that magical potion or just a matter of time. in fact, even a lot of published clinical studies don't consider this inherent bias.
(3) if you are looking for something that is proven, I would say compression and silicone sheeting are the only two modalities that have high level evidence showing that it works. But before you go and grab this from your local drug store or order them on amazon, remember point number 1, don't do anything before consulting with your surgeon.
How about creams? A lot of people ask me about the Mederma. first of all - What is it? Mederma is marketed as a scar gel and is available over the counter at most pharmacies. When you look deeper into it, however, it is essentially an onion extract in a gel form. Bottom line - i would not buy it. In 2006, a randomized, double blind, split scar study was performed at Harvard Medical School comparing Mederma to Petroleum Ointment (like Vasoline) and showed no difference. This study is powerful not because it came out of Harvard but because it used the proper control group to see whether the scar treatment really made a difference - and it did not. The other product that people ask about is Vitamin E and unfortunately, there is also no data that shows the improvement is consistent.
If you do have a scar that you don't like, don't be discouraged. Just because there is not cream or ointment out there you can buy to prevent scar does not mean that there's nothing that can be done. In fact, both plastic surgeons and dermatologists specialize in helping people with scar conditions and we have a variety of tools that can help you and your individual situation.
Thanks for joining me today. If you like this video, be sure to check out other tips on our channel and follow our social media and on the STARS Plastic Surgery website. if you don't find what you are looking for, leave us a comment and that maybe our next video.