Preparing Your Skin for Surgery: What to Do to Minimize Scarring

Dr. Hilary Baldwin

My patients frequently come to me with scars from both major and minor surgeries asking what I can do to reduce their appearance. Unfortunately, surgical incisions are significant wounds to the skin and almost always heal with a permanent scar. However, there are steps that you can take before and after surgery to help reduce the appearance of a scar.

The best ways to improve the appearance of a scar are to follow a healthy diet both before and after surgery to maximize skin health, avoid alcohol and smoking, practice proper wound care following surgery to shorten healing time and use a topical product like Mederma® Advanced Scar Gel after the wound has healed to reduce the overall appearance of the final scar.

“Proper use of a topical product like Mederma® Advanced Scar Gel can improve the overall cosmetic appearance of the scar.”

A proper diet rich in vitamins and nutrients is essential to overall health and well-being, but in the weeks leading up to a surgery, it is particularly important to maximize your health. Vitamin A and vitamin C are important for collagen production; collagen is essential to rebuilding the damaged skin. Foods high in vitamin A include dark green, leafy vegetables, orange fruits and orange or yellow vegetables, while foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, spinach and potatoes. Zinc is also essential to wound healing as zinc is found in bones, skin, muscles and organ tissues. Foods high in zinc include red meats and seafood.

After your surgery, keeping your wound clean is important for many reasons, one of them being that a clean wound heals faster and reduces the appearance of the resulting scar. Always follow the instructions of your surgeon regarding proper wound care, but the general approach to keeping a wound clean is to remove debris from the area, apply an antibiotic cream and keep the area covered at all times. Keeping the wound covered will ensure that bacteria and dirt do not enter it and cause an infection. Finally, it’s important not to pick at the scab, as that could re-introduce bacteria into the wound and lead to a larger, more noticeable scar.

Once the stitches from your surgical incision have been removed and a scar has formed, proper use of a topical product like Mederma® Advanced Scar Gel can improve the overall cosmetic appearance of the scar. When it comes to scar therapy, always remember that following the instructions is very important to getting the results you want. Mederma® Advanced Scar gel needs to be applied directly to the scar once-a-day for at least eight weeks. Also be sure to use a product with sunscreen, such as Mederma® Scar Cream Plus SPF 30, if your scar will be exposed to the sun. Sun exposure can darken scars, making it harder to reduce their appearance. Just remember to follow the usage instructions.

Even if you follow this advice exactly, nothing can completely eliminate a scar once it has formed. However, with proper skin care — particularly at and around the incision site — before and after surgery, as well as use of a topical product like Mederma® Advanced Scar Gel, you can reduce the appearance of a surgical scar.

All information in the Mederma® Learning Center is intended for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice. You should seek professional medical care if you have any concerns about your skin.