Last Updated: Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 10:56 AM EST
Today, you can barely tell where facial plastic surgeon Dr. Ed Farrior stitched up Wesley Winer after a terrible car accident, a few years ago.
“It was bad. I lost a big portion of my lip,” Wesley said. “I had just really come to the conclusion that I was going to be scarred for life, like horribly.”
Luckily, that did not happen. Dr. Farrior meticulously sutured her wound, being sure to match the line of her lip to keep it straight.
Repairing the wound
The biggest factor in what your scar will look like is how your wound is repaired. To get a scar to heal well, especially on a deep wound, you can’t just cover or stitch just the top layer.
“If you just put something on the surface of the skin,” Dr. Farrior said, “ it’s gonna cave in, so, you’re gonna get an indentation in the scar, because you didn’t bring the deeper tissue together.”
Products in lieu of stitches
If your wound isn’t bad enough to require stitches, but you’re worried about a scar, there are a few products that can help.
Derma-bond, which is like glue for the skin, works well on more superficial lacerations. Also, you can try Steri-Strips, also known as butterfly strips, which are like a piece of tape. You stick them to one side of a cut and pull it to the other side to keep the edges of the wound together.
Cleaning the wound
It’s vital to take care of your wound properly. Clean it by using a gentle cleanser, like Cetaphil or baby shampoo, and keep it moist, until the stitches come out or the scab is healed. You can use an antibiotic ointment or that old time favorite, Vaseline.
Silicone patches are one of the best products to use after your wound heals.
“The pressure inhibits the ingrowth of fiber blasts which are cells that create scars,” Dr. Farrior said.
Frequent massage also helps. That’s one thing Wesley was religious about.
“Massage, massage, massage,” she said. “When you’re watching TV, when you’re just sitting there… massage.”
And sunscreen is very important especially for the first six months.
“The sun will cause pigmentation in the scar and make it a darker scar over time,” Dr. Farrior said.
As for other products, like Maderma and vitamin E oil, they won’t hurt, but it’s more about the effort than the product.
“I go back to the massage and the pressure in the application of whatever it is you’re putting on the scar,” Dr. Farrior said.
Time is one of the biggest factors when it comes to healing. It can take up to a year before your scar will look as good as it’s going to get after the natural healing process.
The good news is, if you take care of a scar, you can minimize the appearance over time, and the face is very forgiving in the way it heals.
“As much as it’s the most visible place and not where you want a scar, the scars there usually heal better than any other place on the body,” Dr. Farrior said.
Scars on the chest & old scars
Scars on the chest can sometimes look worse, because of the added weight of breasts pulling on the skin and the incision area.
*Click on the video link in the box above to hear more from Dr. Farrior on how to improve the look of scars on the chest.
If you’re not satisfied with how a scar looks, there are other treatments that can help.
*Click on the video link in the box above to hear more from Dr. Farrior about other treatments for old scars.