Plastic surgeon Dr Rory Dower, of Therapy Specialist Medical Spa in Somerset West, answers your questions.
What exactly is a scar? A scar develops after an injury to the skin. It’s made up of brous tissue, which is why it looks so different to your other skin. It typically has three phases: the inammatory phase, which lasts about three days; the proliferative phase, where the body attempts to rebuild the tissue, this lasts three to six weeks; then the remodelling phase, which can last up to a year. I’m going for surgery. Is there anything I can do beforehand to make the scar look better after? Stop smoking at least two to four weeks before your surgery. Smoking decreases the blood supply to your wounds, so you have fewer repair cells available for healing. Then, wash with antibacterial soap the night and morning of the surgery. It helps decrease the risk of infection. How should I treat my scars? Research shows that covering it with silicone gel immediately will help improve it. There is some evidence that taping will help, but make sure to apply sunscreen on the scar for at least two to four weeks, as the sun can cause hyperpigmentation and inammation. How long must I treat it? Keep looking after it for at least three months. Once you’re happy with the way it looks, stop treatment. Not happy? Continue for up to a year, as there may still be some improvement. My scar feels numb, why? Numbness is common at surgical sites because of the small sensory nerves that have been injured in the specic area. Your normal sensation will usually recover, but may take up to a year and a half. If it hasn’t by then, the numbing may be permanent.