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When can you start scar care?

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Whether your procedure was elective like a tummy tuck or knee replacement or more unexpected like a c-section or fracture, most of us want a nice smooth nice looking scar.

However applying scar ointment, gels, creams and silicone tapes on a fresh incision may cause more damage by creating an environment that is too moist and primed for incision failure and an open wound.

Your stitches will likely stay in for 7-10 days until the follow-up appointment with your doctor when they may be removed. Absorbable stitches are designed to stay in and dissolve over time. However, not all stitches will dissolve and may cause issues commonly called "spitting stitches". Stitches will need to be removed, contact your doctor, PCP or urgent care should be able to assist if your surgeon is not local to you. This is a time of wound care, not scar care.

When you have an incision that is no longer weeping, draining or open in any way; that is a time for scar care.

Scar care can include topical scar creams, silicone strips and massage techniques to help improve the overall appearance over time. The problem is knowing when to use them.

In general, look at other scars on your body to get an idea of how you will scar up.

  • If you tend to scar fairly smoothly then a topical cream should do fine. Mederma is a common easily available option.

  • SPF scar creams are extremely beneficial if the area is in highly exposed area.

  • If you have a tendency to scar a raised or keloid like then using a silicone sheet can help to prevent healing to raise up. These sheets and can be reused and some will find benefit in using a combination of cream during the day and the sheets at night.

Before you apply any topicals, it's important to start working that scar to prevent adhesions from forming. Especially with deep internal surgeries, scars are not only superficial but can develop scar tissue and adhesions down deep that cause long-term restrictions and pain issues. So starting early is typically advised, look at your post-op paperwork or reach out to your MD for a specific recommendation for your personal procedure.

Try this method

Start with dry skin and dry hands.

See how the skin moves.

If you find a restriction, just provide a light hold in that area.

You can add a massage oil to get a bit deeper and get a better glide.

Then finish up by applying your scar cream

Scars that are older than a few months and used to being massaged may be ready for more aggressive techniques like massaging with tools or cupping and taping if there is deeper adhesions. If you are a do-it-yourself type of person you could try this scar program. For more advanced guidance we could schedule a video consult or reach out to your local physical therapist or massage therapist for hands-on assistance as myofascial release can be very helpful in releasing pain issues from adherent tissues.


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