What do plastic surgery scars look like?

What do plastic surgery scars look like?

All surgical procedures will result in some form of visible scarring. In the early months post operatively most scars may appear red, raised or irritated. Fortunately, most scars will improve and fade in the 24 months following your surgery. However they will never be invisible.

The following scars are shown when scarring is at its worst – between 6 weeks and 12 months after surgery. Scroll down to view the important factors that determine what your scars look like after surgery. Some of these factors can be controlled, while others cannot.

Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation scars run horizontally under the breast and are usually 2-4 cm in length. The first two images below show breast augmentation scars (with the patients’ arms raised – when arms are down, this usually sits in the crease of the breast). The first image shows mature scars (ie 2 years old) and the image on the right shows the scar at 6-12 weeks, when it is darker, and more prominent but still well hidden under the breast (final image).

scar breast augmentation
new breast augmentation scar
breast augmentation scar

Abdominoplasty

A standard abdominoplasty scar runs from hip to hip. There is also a scar around the umbilicus where the belly button is moved and attached to its new position. Abdominoplasty scars are very long, and can be straight, irregular and everything in between. How other people’s abdominoplasty scars look does not indicate how yours will look, as discussed further on, there are many individual factors that determine how you scar. The best way to optimise abdominoplasty scarring is to follow post op instructions; no stretching or pulling on the scar and daily massage.

The image on the left shows abdominoplasty scarring at its most prominent, early stage, around the 3 month post op mark. The image on the right shows the same patient 2 years after surgery. This is why surgeons ask patients to please be patient and wait for the scar to fully mature before judging a scar’s ‘final’ result.

tummy tuck scarring
abdominoplasty scarring

Breast reduction or lift

Breast reduction or mastopexy scars run around the nipple, vertically down the lower pole of the breast and horizontally under the breast. When a breast augmentation and mastopexy is performed at the same time, due to the pressure and weight of the implant behind the incision lines, scaring can be wider, thicker and more visible in the first 2 years after surgery than a breast lift alone. This usually improves with time, patience and good scar care.

The images below show breast lift and augmentation scar development at different stages of maturity. Where the umbilicus is also shown in the image, the patient has had an abdominoplasty/tummy tuck as well, so their belly button scarring can also be seen in these images.

breast augmentation and mastopexy
scars from breast lift
scarring for breast implants
breast augmentation scarring lift
scars with mastopexy surgery
healed T junction scars

What impacts your scarring?

Many factors play a role in the healing process and how well a scar matures. These can include:

  • EGenetic predisposition (eg keloid)
  • ESkin tone/type
  • EPhysical activity and movement after surgery
  • ELifestyle factors
  • EHealth related issues
  • EType of surgery
  • EType of sutures
  • EWhere the incision lines were placed and your own natural healing capacity
  • EWhether you experience any infection or wound interruption

Looking at other patients’ scars is not a good way of gauging how your own incisions will look when they fully ‘mature’. Your body will heal differently, and your skin type will be different, as will be your genetic predisposition to healing. Every patient heals differently, however the majority of patients have little to no issues with their scars improving over time, with some basic care principles and patience.

When do I use silicone tape?

Surgical incisions on the face are generally not taped, but on the breasts and body you will usually have breathable tape dressings, which will stay on for 3 weeks.

From 3 weeks onwards, Dr David Sharp recommends changing over to silicone tape for another 3 months. Silicone tape is a topical scar treatment that supports your incision line while delivering a supply of silicone to the scar, improving its appearance over time. The tape can be applied by you at home, and consist of thin skin coloured sheets of silicone. They are usually changed over weekly. Patients are able to shower and participate in normal activities while wearing the tape.

If you have any broken areas of skin, wound breakdown or scabs, don’t place the silicone tape over these areas.

scar tape

Sometimes patients can develop a local reaction to silicone tape. Please exercise your discretion – if you develop a rash or irritation, cease use, consult your pharmacist about analgesia or antihistamines and allow the area to settle down over the following 48 hours before contacting us if the itching or rash doesn’t subside. Thereafter, try using silicone gel daily instead of tape.

What post operative scar optimisation options do we offer in our clinics?

  • ESilicone tape
  • ESilicone gel
  • EFraxel laser
  • EPRP (platelet rich plasma)
  • ELED
  • EDermapen microneedling
  • ECompounded scar gel (provided on prescription)
  • EOur post op instructions specify Dr Sharp’s recommendations regarding daily massage of scars at the right time in the healing process.

While we offer these scar optimisers, they are optional. We find most scars heal very well on their own 0 and to patients’ satisfaction – without requiring more than daily silicone gel massage or tape.

Internal scars

Internal scars occur with every procedure – wherever tissue is cut, a scar forms to heal the area.

Sometimes, internal scars will thicken or even tether. This is usually most pronounced in the two years following surgery. This is especially so if you have had multiple surgeries in one area. Daily massage is recommended, but if your scars are painful or inhibiting movement, we can also refer you to scar care specialists who can provide targeted scar therapies. Talk to us if you would like a referral. This is especially so, if you have had multiple surgeries in the same area.