One of the most common questions patients ask their aesthetic doctors is, “What can I do to prevent scarring after surgery?” Since we are medical doctors, primarily we look to science and the medical literature to find the truth about what really works.
All the ancient tales on letting a wound make a “good scab” have definitively been disproved in every study on moist wound healing. A scab is actually not desired, since it acts like a plug over the wound, preventing new skin from growing over, covering and healing the wound.
So, what kind of moisture should you use? Studies of Vitamin E and products containing onion extract have been less than convincing. Simple remedies seem to work best. Vaseline® or Aquaphor® Healing Ointment are great choices for the immediate postoperative period – the first 5 to 7 days. If you have Steri-Strips™ in place, then this becomes complicated to use, so wait until the Steri-Strips fall off and then use a silicone bandage. Silicone has been studied and has been shown to be effective in prevention of abnormal scarring and even improving the appearance of old scars. Silicone bandages come in multiple varieties, including regular adhesive covers, gels, liquids and sprays. You can find them at your local specialty pharmacy.
As a board-certified dermatologist in Miami, I find that when all else fails, significant improvement in the appearance of scarring can be achieved using fractional resurfacing devices, pulsed dye lasers or KTP lasers.