Surgical Scars Following Breast Reconstruction
Following your breast surgery it is important to continue to keep the micropore tape over your scars for up to 6 weeks. The pressure of the micropore tape over your scars helps to reduce tension on the healing wound which helps reduce the risk of developing problematic scarring and improves surgical scars healing.
The tape will need to be removed once a week and new tape reapplied. You can shower with the tape on, use a hairdryer on a low heat settling to dry afterwards. If the tape comes away from the skin reapply tape.
Do not remove the tape daily as this will cause you to lose the top layers of skins cells which will hinder the healing process.
After 6 weeks you may start moisturising and massaging your surgical scars with a non-perfumed moisturiser, which helps soften and hydrate your scar tissue.
Your breast and abdominal scars may remain pink and change colour with different temperatures e.g. when you are hot they will appear red and when you are cold they will look purple. This is normal and will gradually fade over time. If your scar starts to become firm, red, raised and itchy, this may be the start of Hypertrophic scarring which may develop in healed skin within the first three months after surgery.
How your scars will heal will be determined by many different factors e.g. poor diet, infection, healing time, your past history of radiotherapy and chemotherapy and your genetic tendency to scar.
Non-surgical treatment can be used to help with the texture and colour these include moisturising and massage, silicone creams, silicone dressing and pressure garments. It is important to remember that scarring can take up to two years to fully settle and some people will need treatment for this length of time.
Scarring should also be protected from sun exposure unit the scar has fully matured (become pale and inactive) this is around 2 years.
If your scarring is giving you concerns please contact the breast reconstruction nurse for advice. You may need and benefit from treatment at our Scar Management Team at Southmead Hospital.
Some patients decide to disguise their abdominal scar by having a tattoo. If you are considering this option you need to ensure that the scar is completely healed. The healing process takes up to 18 months to heal, therefore tattooing must not be undertaken before this time. Tattooing won’t change the texture and it won’t erase the scar.
If you do decide to get a tattoo, make sure that the tattooist is experienced and has done tattoo art for people with similar scars in the past. Ensure that you ask to see photos of their work covering up the scars before booking up your tattoo. It is important to note that the scar may not take the ink, therefore, find out if the price of the tattoo covers all subsequent visits.
Camouflage creams can be applied to conceal or reduce the noticeability scars. The creams and powders are available in a wide range of shades, which are matched to your skin tone. The products have been clinically tested for skin sensitivity. They are not the same as ordinary cosmetics. They are lightweight but have a far greater covering quality and stay in place for much longer. On the body creams can be safely left in place for 2-3 days. The cream is fully waterproof, so you can swim with it in place.
For an NHS appointment (for example for scarring) you will need to be referred to the camouflage clinic by your GP or hospital consultant or nurse.
Find out more about the camouflage clinic.