Avoiding sun exposure and massaging healing wounds can help minimize scarring.
There are many factors to take into consideration during the wound healing process, such as the types of dressings you use and the methods for preventing infection. Another major concern is scarring. Once the wound closes and the tissue has begun to grow back, the outer dermal layer can appear discolored and have a different texture than the surrounding skin.
While scars are a natural part of wound healing and often unavoidable to some degree, they are widely considered unsightly. Fortunately, there are steps patients can take to reduce scarring. Consider some of these suggestions:
1. Massage the scar
One method for reducing scarring is to massage the healing tissue. This has the effect of softening the skin, which can prevent a stiff scar with a differing texture. Scar massage also works to draw moisture up from the body into the wound bed, providing a moist environment ideal for efficient recovery with minimal scarring.
The Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute also notes that massage can regulate the growth of collagen, encouraging elasticity and flexibility, while working to flatten the skin. Consider these massage techniques, recommended by the Moffitt institute:
- Circular massage: Use two of your fingers to make small circular motions running along the length of the scar as well as the surrounding tissue.
- Horizontal massage: Use two fingers to gently rub the scar from side to side, moving back and forth across it.
- Vertical massage: Using two fingers, rub the affected area up and down along the length of the scar.
Switch between these massage techniques to provide varied types of stimulation to the scar. Make sure to use very gentle pressure at first and, as the tissue gradually becomes stronger and more flexible, begin applying more intense pressure. Lotion or ointment may make massage easier, but avoid products that can cause discoloration. Before beginning a massage regimen, speak with your clinician to ensure your wound has healed enough to withstand the pressure and movement involved.
2. Protect your wound from the sun
Undoubtedly, vitamin D absorbed from the sun’s rays can enhance the wound healing process. As the University of Maryland Medical Center points out, vitamin D is integral in keeping the immune system functioning well, in turn defending the body against outside invaders that could cause infection. However, there’s a complication: Sun can also have a negative aesthetic effect on healing wounds.
As the University of Washington Medical Center advises surgical patients, sun exposure should be avoided to reduce scarring. UV rays have the potential to either lighten or darken healing skin, causing noticeable discoloration that can last two years or longer. Simply staying indoors isn’t the solution, either; rather, make sure to cover the affected area with wound dressings and use a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher as protective measures.
3. Consider using silicone
As the UW Medical Center points out, silicone can be used as a complement to traditional wound dressings to minimize scarring, as it regulates fibroblast production that protects against abnormal tissue healing. It’s particularly effective at reducing keloids and hypertrophic scars., which are caused by excess collagen deposits that may lead to raised, stiff tissue as well as redness in the skin.
Silicone for healing usually comes in the form of soft sheets that are self-adhesive and can be cut to fit the size of the target area. Silicone also comes in the form of a topical, self-drying gel. Either form can be used in conjunction with a wound dressing to help reduce the appearance of scarring.
Advanced Tissue is the nation’s leader in delivering specialized wound care supplies to patients, delivering to both homes and long-term care facilities.