Silicone Strips and Scar Prevention
Scars after surgery are one of the things that leaves many people putting off a surgical procedure. But often the scar is a minimal concern in relation to the discomfort or distress of having ‘bat wing’ arms or saggy skin folds around the belly, thighs or upper back. Or if you have lost a lot of weight, either unassisted or through Bariatric Surgery (Gastric Sleeve or Gastric Banding), you may be sick and tired of the chaffing of the redundant skin; and body contouring surgery can help you regain more natural contours, but you will have some sort of scarring.
What can be done about scars?
- Scars will fade, but most surgery will result in some sort of visible scars.
- Everyone heals differently and following post-op instructions like eating nutritiously and giving up smoking will be crucial to minimise your post-op scars.
- Silicone Strips, Light Therapy and other methods may also help reduce scar visibility.
- There are also several post-op scar minimisation treatments such as Dermapen Micro-needling, Healite II, Light-based Treatments & Peels.
- Revisions of scars could also be an option. eg: if your post-op actions stretched your incision area or increased the width of the incision scar.
- Other methods might include topical treatments such as Vitamin E oils to help with healing.
Please remember, everyone heals differently and scars differently. Scar formation is never predictable nor can be controlled, but there is a lot you can do to minimise their dark and or raised appearance.
What you do Post op is very important. You should not be smoking (your doctors can advise on way to give up for good) otherwise your surgery result, healing and your overall health will be compromised. Listen to your surgeon so you get the most minimal scarring result as possible.
Your Overall Skin Health Will have an Impact on Your Scars
Scarring is the process by which wounds are repaired. Scars vary greatly in quality, depth, size, texture and shape. Damage to the deeper layer of the skin, the dermis, is required to produce a scar. Scars produce a structural change in the deeper layers of the skin. It is not just a change in skin colour. Fetal tissues and mucosal tissues have the ability to heal without producing a scar.
Understanding how and why this is possible could lead to better surgical scar outcomes. A scar formation will somewhat depend on the nature of the injury or trauma, the location, depth and length of a surgical incision, but the scar will be impacted by s number of internal and external factors of wound healing. Some of these conditions are controllable and some are not. Genetics can also have an effect (some high-melanin skin types are prone to keloid scarring).
- Scarring in areas of increased skin tension or movement tend to be unsightly.
- Scars occur when tissues have been significantly damaged and repaired.
- Scars can occur after physical trauma or as part of a disease or it’s process.
- Poorly controlled wound healing can result in thick, unsightly scars that cause symptoms.
- Genetics play a role in some people any may produce thicker, enlarged scars called keloid scars.
- When wounds are produced surgically, surgeons utilise techniques to minimise scarring.
- Scars result in changes that alter the physical architecture of normal skin or other tissue.
Reducing scars after your surgical procedures is of utmost importance to Dr Barnett. Hiding them below visible clothing lines and making incisions as small as possible.
Abdominoplasty scar (approx 3.5 months after surgery) strategically placed below the clothing line.
Can Silicone Strips Help Reduce Scars?
Silicone strips are a topical treatment, but they have the ability to reach deeper layers of the skin to help reduce the presence of visible scars over time. They are not inexpensive and they require extra care during your healing period, but for some patients, they may help reduce scars over time.
What Silicone Scar Treatments Involve
- Silicone strips are an ultra thin sheet of silicone that are applied and are often worn for 24 hours per day.
- Once approved to use these (be sure to ask your Surgeon or Nurse first), you’ll be able to place it over the scar formation area.
- These strips have a self drying technology that allow them to dry on the skin within about 5 minutes after application.
It is important to note that they might not work effectively for every patient, and not every patient’s surgery might be suitable for Silicone Strips. That noted, some Silicone Strip product providers have reported these strips can produce up to:
- an 86% reduction in scar-texture (e.g. helping with smoothness)
- an 84% reduction in colour
- and a 68% reduction in height (elevation) of the scars.
Dr Geoff Barnett Specialist Plastic Surgeons and Dermal Clinicians are keen to see more evidence-based, non-sponsored research being done to assess just how effective these treatments are and what patients might benefit most. But from what is known currently, it is likely that silicone strips might be an effective method for treating various scars after surgery for some patients.
What are the Pros and Cons of Using Silicone Strips?
When it comes to silicone strips to reduce scarring there are some pros and cons.
- Silicone Strips can help heal scars faster than gels. That’s because your scar tissue is continuously in contact with the silicone – Where gels be easily wiped away.
- It is a non-invasive and painless.
- It helps to minimise redness, pain, bumps or itching of scar tissue while your skin heals.
- Blends well with your skin so it is not overly obvious when that you’re using silicon strips (it can depend on clothing and wear the strips are located).
- Silicon Strips are available in different sizes.
- Strips need to be worn 24 hours a day and can be visible.
- Silicone strips are costlier than gels.
- Allergic reactions and sensitivity to the product are possible.
What Scars do Silicone Strips Work Best On?
Silicone strips are most suitable for elevated scars. They may work best to prevent or treat hypertrophic and keloid scars.
- Hypertrophic scars are raised and remain within the boundaries of the injury or wounded area.
- Keloid scars go beyond the incision and into the surrounding skin area.
- Both types of scars may be itchy or painful. In severe cases, these scars can affect one’s mobility.
Can Silicone Strips be used on old scars?
Most definitely. Silicone works on both old and new scars.
When Should I Begin using Silicone Strips?
For newly healed wounds, be sure to wait until there is no further bleeding, oozing or crusting on the area you are treating. Ask your Surgeon for specifics as this is general information only, but for post-surgical scars, you might be able to begin using it 1 to 2 weeks after your sutures are removed – but don’t use it until and unless your Surgeon gives you clearance to do so.
Can I use Silicone Strips on any Part of my Body?
Yes, mostly. Silicone strips can be ideal for use on most body parts as long as the tissue has healed adequately.
How long should I use it?
- Treatment duration will vary from person to person
- Duration depends on the extent and severity of the scar and your skin’s healing and scar formation processes.
- Sometimes the recommended duration of silicone strips usage is 8 to 12 weeks for new scars, or 3 to 6 months for existing scars. That’s a fairly long protocol to follow but if you do, you may be rewarded by less visible scars (that noted, for many people but not all, scars fade a lot naturally within 12 to 18/24 months after surgery).
- The results of these treatments may vary.
Is Silicone Strip Scar Treatment Safe?
Yes, it appears this is a safe treatment and the FDA even recommends silicone strips for the treatment and reduction of scars. There have been no reported side effects from using silicone strips because it is made of non-toxic, medical grade silicone. Every person is different, however, and you could have an allergy to it (rare but possible).
How will I use Silicone Strips Properly?
Dr Barnett or his Nurse will help teach you how to use your silicone strips, although here are some helpful tips:
- Massage gently only around the scar.
- Do not shower with strips, remove them beforehand.
- Swap out weekly (each strip may last for approximately one week – so it is recommended to change it weekly on average).
- Report any changes in your skin sensation, itchiness, redness, irritation, and other abnormalities in your scar tissue to your Surgeon immediately for further medical evaluation.
Having healthy skin and a good immune system can help a lot when it comes to healing well from a scar.
You’ll need to do your part, but Dr Barnett or his Nurse and can help you learn how to best prepare your skin for surgery and other treatments; they can also help your skin recovery from incisions. Be sure you attend any recommended Healite II appointments – it feels great and helps rejuvenate and heal your skin.
Stimulating the skin’s natural healing mechanisms in the weeks or months BEFORE as well as AFTER your surgery, can help reduce the appearance of your scars.
The Process of Wound Healing
Scar Healing Symptoms
As your skin heals from a surgery incision or other skin wound, scars form; and along the way of skin repair (scar formation) you may experience:
- warmth in the incision area (but let your Surgeon or Nurse know if the area becomes very warm or hot as this could signal an infection)
- discomfort or pain
- anxiety about the scar (especially if you’ve just had major surgery, when your emotional reactions will be more sensitive than they might otherwise be)
- sleep disturbance
Your wound could be infected if you experience any of the following.
- Delay in your healing.
- Pus, redness, and pain getting worse.
- Tenderness, warmth, and swelling near your wound.
Topical Scar Treatments
If your incision is thin and if you are careful not to interfere with it or over-stretch it during your healing period, your scars will tend to heal well over approximately 12 to 24 months. They will often become barely noticeable, but a lot of their visibility after surgery depends upon:
(a) where you have the surgery incision (e.g. breast incisions are often hidden in the inframammary fold);
(b) your genetics including skin tone,
(c) your overall health
(d) whether or not you get a skin infection or other complication after surgery, and
(e) how well you follow your post-op instructions including, but not limited to having good nutrition, using the Rapid Recovery protocols, wearing the right garments as prescribed, avoiding strenuous activities as advised, caring for your bandages (and other sterilisation efforts and wound treatments), and your rest and recovery requirements.
Dr Geoff Barnett has over 25 years of experience, you will know you’re in the hands of a caring, experienced Plastic Surgeon who is a Specialist in the field of cosmetic surgery procedures.
If you would like more information about reducing post surgery scars, breast surgery, facial rejuvenation, nose reshaping or body lift procedures – or if you would like to make an appointment with Mr Barnett at his Hawthorn location, fill in the confidential Enquiry Form or during clinic hours, you can phone a Patient Care Coordinator on (03) 8849 1467 or contact his Nurse Jenny at (03) 8849 1412 .
Mr Barnett and his dedicated staff aim to ensure your consultation in his rooms is professional, relaxed and as well informed as possible. We look forward to seeing you.
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