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Liposuction Scars... The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

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About Liposuction Scars...

Author: Letty's Staff Writer

Scars are pretty much universally despised – especially when they are on our own skin.

However, surgery without scarring is a pink elephant.

If the surgery is invasive – meaning that the skin and dermal layers are "cut into" then the potential for scarring is there.

Being realistic in our expectations about plastic surgery is very helpful to our overall satisfaction with the results we get.

I realize that one of the major goals of plastic surgeons is to achieve results for their patients that are seamless. Patients want to look as if they were born with perfect proportions and beauty. So, surgeons have developed techniques for hiding liposuction scars and other surgical scars that will give patients a flawless appearance.

At least in theory – patients should look flawless afterwards. BUT in reality plastic surgery results can be very imperfect.

This article is going to get to the bottom of liposuction scars. We will talk candidly about what you should realistically expect from surgery... We will also discuss variations in scarring that can be seen between dark-skinned and lighter-skinned individuals.

So, let's get started.

I don't understand how people get liposuction scars...

Liposuction scars can result not just from the entry-point incisions that are made in the skin to allow introduction of the anesthetizing fluid and suctioning device – but scarring can also occur as a result of the "back and forth" motion of the suctioning device itself.

Liposuction is a vigorous surgery that causes a lot of disruption to membranes and cellular structure of the tissues just under the skin. So, liposuction scars can also appear in areas other than the actual incision and entry points.

In fact – one of the potential side-effects of liposuction surgery is that "tunnel scars" can form. Tunnel scars are created when the cannula (liposuction suctioning device) is pushed and pulled along the bottom surface of the skin layers.

What can be done to prevent liposuction scars?

So, let's talk about prevention. The dynamics of scarring are – in part – out of our control. In other words, there is a large genetic component associated with why some people scar worse than other people.

However, the extent of scarring and the efficiency of healing are affected by factors that ARE under our control.

Here are a few things that you can do to promote healing and reduce scarring:

  1. Rest. After any sort of trauma to the body, our systems need a low-stress period of rest to repair and rebuild tissues. Getting 8 hours of sleep or more per night is recommended for folks recovering from liposuction surgery.
  2. Proper nutrition. Eating the right kinds of foods after surgery is really the key. The skin is a massive organ that requires nutrients from fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and high-quality protein sources to thrive. During times of injury and stress the skin requires more healthy building blocks to be able to repair properly.
  3. Water. Drinking plenty of clean water can help the body to eliminate stress hormones and toxins and medications released during surgery.
  4. Moisture. Topical creams can't reverse scarring. However, having moist, supple skin helps to diminish the appearance of scars, and can help prevent the stress on skin that increases the chances of scarring.
  5. Compression. Pressure bandages that are applied after liposuction surgery to prevent swelling and blood clotting – may also help to diminish scar formation.

Unfortunately, none of these tips will completely prevent scarring – especially if you have skin that is scar-prone.

What can be done to diminish liposuction scars once I have them?

Diminishing scars once they appear is a whole different ball game. To begin, scars can be of 3 different varieties:

  1. Atrophic Scars – These are scars where the skin depresses or indents.
  2. Hypertrophic Scars – These are scars that are elevated above the skin.
  3. Fibroblastic Scars – These are scars that continue to expand even after the wound is healed – causing the scar to swell and expand well beyond the original boundary of the injury (keloid scars are of this variety).
  4. Hyper- or Hypopigmented Scars – These are scars that aren't elevated or depressed, but are darker or lighter than the surrounding skin.

Depending on the type of scar being treated, there are different treatment methods.

    Methods for Treating Scars:

  1. Lasers - for raised scars and keloids dermatologists have successfully used pulse-dye lasers, and immune response modifiers to flatten and improve burning and itching in the scar.
  2. Creams - for hyperpigmented scars physicians can prescribe hydroquinone cream (bleaching cream) – which will help lighten the darker scar to better match the surrounding skin.
  3. Injectables and fillers – such as collagen, or hyaluronic acid can help improve indented scars – although treatment is temporary and needs to be redone periodically.
  4. Mederma(R) - is an inexpensive over-the-counter cream that has been shown to diminish the appearance of scars in clinical studies.

None of the above treatments are guaranteed to work for everyone, but many of them have been shown to diminish the appearance of scarring over time.

Dark-skinned individuals can scar differently...

This is a very good question. However, the dynamics of dark-skinned scarring isn't yet fully understood.

However, in my research I ran across several studies that are investigating the underlying biology of scarring in dark-skinned individuals. Many of these studies are pointing towards some sort of genetic component. It does appear that the process of scarring in dark-skinned individuals is inflammatory in nature, and often involves melanin (the pigment responsible for the color of dark skin) – among other things.

What is the take-home here?

The bottom line in all of this is that whenever the skin is traumatized the potential for scarring exists. There are some things that you can actively do to prevent, or diminish scars (such as rest, and proper nutrition).

However, these preventative measures cannot guarantee that you will not scar.

If you do happen to have significant liposuction scars after your surgery – it is encouraging to know that there are possible treatments to help you diminish those scars and achieve the look that you originally wanted.

You HAVE to Watch This:

Got dark skin?... Get answers to your questions about plastic surgery.

About Liposuction Scars References:

  • "Mederma[R] skin care for scars[TM] proven to improve appearance of scars." Dermatology Nursing 21.3 (2009): 155. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web 23 Feb 2010.

  • Fitzpatrick, Richard E. "Laser therapy for benign pigmented cutaneous lesions." The Western Journal of Medicine 156.2 (1992): 194. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web 23 Feb. 2010.

  • Gorgos, Diana. "Scars don't have to mark your skin." Dermatology Nursing 17.1 (2005): 68+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web 23 Feb. 2010.

  • Gorgos, Diana. "New treatments minimize surgical scars." Dermatology Nursing 18.4 (2006): 394+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web 23 Feb. 2010.

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