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Preventing or Minimizing Scars After Surgery

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Updated April 16, 2014

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How to Prevent Scars After Surgery

Preventing scars means focusing on the factors that you can control. Some ways are simple, like following the instructions your surgeon gives you to the letter. Others are not so easy, like quitting smoking.

  • Smoking: Not only does smoking increase your risk for scars, it can also slow your healing. Smoking is such a significant risk factor that many plastic surgeons will not operate on a patient if he does not quit smoking COMPLETELY for at least 2 weeks prior to surgery.

  • Drinking: Alcohol dehydrates both the body and skin, which decreases your overall state of health. While your wound is healing, avoid alcohol and focus on non-caffeinated beverages.

  • Nutrition: Eat a balanced diet with an emphasis on protein intake. Protein makes up the building blocks of healing skin, so it is essential to provide your body with adequate protein (chicken, pork, fish, seafood, beef, dairy products) to allow your skin to heal. If you do not like eating meat, soy products provide an excellent alternative as a lean protein source.

  • Hydration: Dehydration happens when you are not taking in enough fluids. In severe cases, this can cause electrolyte imbalances and heart issues. In less severe cases, you will feel thirsty and your overall health will be diminished. Staying well hydrated (Tip: If you are well-hydrated, your urine will be almost colorless or light in color) will help keep your healing headed in the right direction.

  • Your Weight: If you are overweight, you may be at greater risk for scarring. Why? The fat under your skin can work against your surgeons best efforts to close your incision seamlessly.

  • Prevent Infection: Good incision care, which includes preventing infection, is one of the best ways to prevent scarring after surgery.
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