How to prevent a scar forming from an injury?
July 25, 2014 11:37 AM   Subscribe

About two weeks ago I unfortunately had a minor injury, which scabbed up. The scab fell off somewhere between several days and a week ago, and the area is now pinkish and slightly raised. The pink color has been going down somewhat over the past few days, but is still there. I have been putting a silicon-based product on it, as well as keeping it out of the sun. Is there anything else I can/should be doing to prevent scarring?
posted by ClaireBear to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm healing from yet another mole biopsy (my 5th I think), and I just went to the dermatologist yesterday to have the sutures out and they gave me their best advice: put Vaseline on it and then cover with a bandage. They told me that depending on where the injury is, it will scar more or less, and there isn't much you can do about it. My injury is near my collarbone, an area that heals poorly and scars easily, so they told me not to be optimistic. It's a bummer, I know. But scars do lessen over time - even after a year, an older scar I have is still fading.
posted by Cygnet at 11:42 AM on July 25, 2014

I think if you keep putting the product on it and just leaving it alone, then it should heal. There might end up being some kind of blemish, but you may be able to escape having an actual scar (of course, depending on the injury, too). I think what you are doing so far is good, in my non-medical opinion!
posted by foxhat10 at 11:42 AM on July 25, 2014

I had a surgery in December that resulted in some fairly significant scarring (anticipated from the get-go) and the surgeon's assistant told me they recommend the silicone thing you're already using to all their patients. It's not actually been clear to me that it helps more than doing nothing and letting time handle it, but if nothing else it does keep down the unbearable itching of a newer scar.
posted by dorque at 11:51 AM on July 25, 2014

Seconding the import of time -- I had a pretty good multiple-fingernail scar applied to the top of my hand something like a year ago (human services employment, not being some kind of creep) and it's totally gone now. I didn't do anything other than maintain hygiene.
posted by mr. digits at 11:54 AM on July 25, 2014

Some things I have seen help reduce scarring:

Soaking in apple juice and salt water when it is still relatively fresh.

Treating with Penaten cream.

Excellent nutrition so the body has adequate building material to work with in constructing the new tissues. It helps if you have some idea what the body needs for the tissues in question and try to get more of that. (For skin, you could try consuming pork rinds/pig skins/whatever your local term is for that.)
posted by Michele in California at 12:04 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some people are saying to leave it alone to heal, but I've heard that there are certain massage techniques you can use to help a fresh scar heal more completely.
posted by helloimjohnnycash at 12:18 PM on July 25, 2014

Absolutely Vitamin E oil! recommended by my therapist and it worked 100% on after-surgery scar.
posted by mmiddle at 12:23 PM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

My wife had surgery last fall to remove a cancerous mole. It was a very large mole, required a lot of tissue to be removed, and required a skin graft from another location on the body to close up the surgical wound. There was a skin cancer surgeon to remove the mole and then a cosmetic surgeon to do the skin graft, both in the same office on the same day.

The cosmetic surgeon recommended some scar cream in addition to the after-care instructions, but said it was expensive and didn't really do much. She opted not to buy the cream and just followed the after-care instructions, and almost a year later, the scar is barely noticeable unless you know it's there. (And this is on her nose, in an obvious place.)

The after-care instructions were merely to apply a lot of pressure to the scar with your finger for about 5-10 minutes, twice or three times a day, for a few weeks, then tapering down the frequency on a schedule that I don't remember.

This may, however, have had to do with the location of the mole. The scar, if untreated, would have been very obvious, but scars on the face might heal differently than those on other parts of the body.

I'm using an over-the-counter scar cream on an old scar (from childhood) and it doesn't seem to be doing much (after a few months of daily application). Maybe it works better on newer scars, but my experience and my wife's leads me to believe scar creams are probably not very effective in general.
posted by tckma at 12:30 PM on July 25, 2014

I hurt my face really badly in the fall so I know exactly what you're going through. I do have a scar now (it is not super bad - raised but flesh-colored) on my upper lip. My doctors told me that no picking + constant moisture (Vaseline, Vitamin E or similar) would prevent scarring. I stuck to the latter but not the former (I know it is the worst, but man! it hurts so good), so I strongly endorse the suggestions to avoid messing with the wound, especially in any way that might reopen it partway through the healing process.

Good luck!
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:48 PM on July 25, 2014

I've heard that there are certain massage techniques you can use to help a fresh scar heal more completely.

As far as I know you are supposed to wait for the wound to completely heal before beginning the massaging. Once everything is closed up, supposedly you can use massage to break up the scar tissue and reduce the scar appearance. I really think massaging/rubbing/unnecessarily touching an unclosed wound would make things worse rather than better.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:51 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

My plastic surgeon recommended Vitamin E oil, also.
posted by SLC Mom at 12:52 PM on July 25, 2014

I am a scarrer. I could scar for a living if someone would pay me for scar tissue. After a few surgeries where I developed hypertrophic scar tissue, I have learned to work with my surgeons to do everything we can do to avoid these scars. (They are painful and itchy, and generally annoying as hell.)

My most recent surgery was for a trigger finger in my right hand, and my surgeon was meticulous about both his procedure and my physical therapy. A big part of the PT revolved around avoiding any scarring in the hand. This is what we did:

- Allow any scabbing to stay on the wound until it comes off on its own

- Create a polymer mold of the area that can be held against the scar area with compression tape to keep pressure on the area. Do not wrap tightly enough to cause numbness, but try to keep pressure on the area as much as possible, especially when sleeping. We added a silicone sheet to this mold as well. You can do this with just a silicone pad if you can wrap it against the area where you have your scar.

- Once the wound is closed, three times a day, rub Palmer's Cocoa Butter onto and around the scar, using what I can only describe as a little vibrator. Do this for 15 minutes each session, really working to break up any scar fibers trying to build up.

- During our PT sessions, my therapist would occasionally use some Graston implements (they look like instruments of torture) to really try to break up the scar tissue. The tools aren't really magic; it's just a way to keep those fibers from forming and break up any adhesions. I found myself doing this with the smooth end of a wrench when I didn't have the little massager handy. The Palmer's helps here too.

- If your scar is in an area that needs to move around (like fingers), do a lot of stretching to keep the adhesions from forming and causing range of motion issues.

We did all of this for a few months, and this is the first time (after 6 randomly located surgeries) that I did not have any thickened, darkened, or hypertrophied scar tissue develop afterwards.

I hope some of that helps you. Good luck!
posted by blurker at 3:06 PM on July 25, 2014 [6 favorites]

Maybe I'm just susceptible to advertising, but I find Neosporin or generic antibiotic ointment helps heal cuts without scars.
posted by AppleTurnover at 3:07 PM on July 25, 2014

Another yes for Vitamin E. But use the capsules you'd buy to take orally, pop the capsule with a pin and squeeze the oil out. It's more concentrated and effective than the Vit.E body oil. This is what I was told to use when I had hand surgery years ago and it stopped the keloid (raised, white) scars from forming.
posted by essexjan at 6:05 PM on July 25, 2014

There were only 6 participants in the trial, but this article (link downloads pdf) provides some evidence that tamanu oil reduces the size of old scars.
posted by MrBobinski at 6:29 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would strongly recommend looking into using Emu Oil on your scar.

I was in the hospital years ago and had a fairly sizeable hole/scar near my collarbone from a Hickman Catheter. I gently rubbed Emu Oil into it several times a day, once it was no longer an open wound.

Using the Emu Oil worked wonderfully in reducing the scar's appearance. In fact, it was such a remarkable transformation that my Doctor made a point of asking what I had done to it and making note of it so that he could recommend it to his post-surgery patients to try.

It's been over 8 years now and you'd be hard-pressed to notice the scar at all, unless I point it out, as it's so very faint.

I was able to find a small bottle of Emu Oil in the natural remedies section of my local drugstore/pharmacy here in Montreal. I'm sure it can't be that hard to find; if not, it's easy enough to order online.
posted by Jade Dragon at 8:47 AM on July 27, 2014

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