Breast implant surgery is a major plastic surgery procedure that adds volume and projection to the breasts. Implants are artificial objects that are inserted and placed into the breasts through incisions. The procedure is performed under general anesthesia and involves surgical trauma. If your breasts are smaller or flatter and you desire to have bigger and shapelier breasts, you may consider getting implants.
One of the side effects of breast implant surgery is scarring. The procedure is invasive and involves incisions that develop into scars. Some people develop abnormal scars after surgery. The procedure is not possible without incisions and thus scarring.
Scarring after breast implant surgery
The breast implant is made of a silicone shell that is filled with silicone gel or saline solution. To augment the breasts, the implant is inserted into the breasts via incisions and then placed over or under the pectoral muscle. The plastic surgeon starts the surgery after the anesthesiologist administers the general anesthesia. The surgeon will then make an incision on the breast. The type and length of the incision depend on the flaws in your breasts, your aesthetic goals, and the size of the implant.
Breast implants come in various sizes. You should choose an implant size by working with your surgeon. Ideally, the implant size should accentuate your breast dimensions and overall body outline. After placing the implants into the breasts, the doctor will suture and close the incisions. The incisions made in the breasts will evolve into scars after the surgery. The scars are unavoidable. In other words, it is an opportunity cost for the aesthetic improvements in your breasts achieved with the implants. If you don’t like scars, you should rethink your plan to undergo implant surgery and instead consider fat transfer.
Scarring happens as a result of a natural response of your body against the incisions. Your body works to heal the incision by producing collagen. Collagen closes the incision by creating a scar at the site. In most cases, the scarring happens normally. Normal scars gradually become less visible with the passage of time. When they become completely normalized after many months or even years, they will be less prominent. Also, the incision can be placed in a way that can camouflage the scars in the breast folds or under the breasts.
Implants scars are inevitable. While the plastic surgeon may place the incision carefully to avoid prominent scars, scars cannot be avoided completely. The scars develop as a dense and dropping connective tissue. The visibility of the scar also depends on the size of the breast implant. If the implant is large, there will be more scarring.
In some cases, abnormal scarring happens. An abnormal scar develops like swelling at the incision area. The keloid scar is an example of abnormal scarring. It develops in the form of a thick, firm, and swollen tissue over the incisions. Abnormal scars develop due to the overproduction of collagen in the body. Moreover, collagen production is coupled by the overdevelopment of fibroblasts. Hence, the scars look raised and swollen.
Many patients ask what they can do to reduce the scars after breast implant surgery. Well, there are some treatment options available for reducing the scars.
Surgical scar treatment
The first treatment for implant scars is surgery. While it can effectively treat scars and make them less visible, it also comes with a risk. The surgery can trigger the development of abnormal scarring like hypertrophy and keloid scars. Abnormal scarring will happen when the surgery fails.
The surgical intervention used to treat the scars is complex, and you should consider it only as a last option. In most cases, doctors use scar treatment surgery along with other treatments to increase its chance of success and reduce the risks.
In case you have developed keloid scars, surgery would be performed immediately because other treatment options are ineffective to treat abnormal scars. If other methods are used, they may make the scar worse. The surgical treatment involves excision of the scar lesions without meddling with the surrounding scar tissue.
The second option to reduce the scars is compression treatment. It can flatten or soften the scar by using motorized pressure. However, this treatment should be used with care and after deliberation. The doctor must strictly follow the compression permanence to reduce the visibility of the scar by reducing its width and kindle the vascular limits. The patient will wear an elastic compression garment specially made for the individual patient. Silicone dressings can also be used to make the treatment effective.
Corticosteroids can also be used to help make the scars thicker. The doctor will carefully inject the medicine in the scar with a tiny needle. The patient is required to get the injection every three to six weeks for one or two years after surgery.
Another option to reduce the scars is radiotherapy. This option should be used only as a last resort and when all other treatments fail to deliver the desired improvements. While it is not recommended for most patients, in rare cases it may be used. There are many risks and side effects associated with radiotherapy.
Silicone sheeting is also a good treatment and is a non-invasive method to reduce the scars. The procedure involves boosting the temperature of the scar, besides increasing its hydration. Silicone sheets are used to make the scars soft and flat. Doing so decreases their size and visibility.
How to avoid abnormal scarring
Abnormal scarring happens for many reasons. An abnormal scar is one that is raised and looks swollen. Some people are pre-disposed to developing abnormal scars. For instance, some people have a genetic tendency to develop keloid scars. Asians and people with dark skin are more likely to develop abnormal scars.
If you have a genetic tendency to develop abnormal scars, you should rethink your decision to undergo breast augmentation with implants. In case someone in your family has abnormal scarring after surgery or after getting a cut on his/her body, it means you are also at risk of abnormal scarring. During the pre-operative consultation, you should ask the doctor whether you are exposed to the risk of abnormal scarring. In case you have more than 50 percent chance of getting abnormal scars, you should avoid the surgery.
Another factor that causes abnormal scarring is carelessness during the recovery period. You can avoid abnormal scarring by being more careful during recovery. Keep in mind that even minor carelessness can lead to the development of abnormal scars. Be sure to avoid applying any pressure or force to your breasts during the recovery period. Pressure on the breasts can trigger wound dehiscence and bleeding, which can lead to abnormal scarring.
Wearing the support bra during the recovery period can help prevent abnormal scarring. Be sure to wear the support bra and avoid physical activities like stretching, jogging, workouts, etc. during the recovery period.
Exposure of the breasts to the sun and other direct forms of heat tends to trigger abnormal scarring. Remember, sunlight exposure during the first six months after surgery can trigger abnormal scar development. You must avoid going out in the sun topless and do not expose your breasts to any form of UV rays for six months after the surgery.
Another common cause of abnormal scarring is smoking. Smoking clots the blood, which can block blood and oxygen supply to the incisions, triggering abnormal scarring.
The breasts are among the most important assets of women. Many factors can affect the aesthetic features of the breasts, making them aesthetically unappealing. Many women undergo breast implant surgery to get bigger and voluptuous breasts. The implants are artificial objects that are placed into the breasts through incisions. The incisions ultimately develop into scars.
Many women are curious as to how they can reduce the scars after surgery. The scar treatment options have been discussed above. Some patients may experience abnormal scarring. In this article, I have also discussed the precautions you can take to avoid abnormal scarring after breast implant surgery. Patients must discuss the scarring after surgery with the surgeon during the pre-operative consultation.
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