Breast implant scars are an important point of discussion when considering an augmentation, a breast lift, or any surgical enhancements to the breast. As one of the major concerns of surgery, it helps to be aware of how you can ensure that it does not affect your desired results.
Make that first step in the right direction and educate yourself now.
What Causes Scars?
A scar forms when the dermis, or the second layer of skin, is damaged by injury, surgery, and other means. When a wound is made, it signals the body to go into immediate healing by releasing collagen to close it up.
Scars are part of the natural wound healing process of the skin. It can be a fine line or a pitted hole in the skin. In a hurry to repair itself and replenish damaged tissues, the collagen produced may not get laid out in a neatly-organized lattice pattern like the rest of your skin. This will result in a scar formation. Furthermore, when the body produces too much collagen, it results in raised (hypertrophic) scars or keloid scars.
Different implant incisions
Knowledge of different breast implant incisions is relevant in understanding the different scars that may result from it. Knowing where an incision is placed allows you to decide which would be most suitable for you and the kind of aesthetics you wish to achieve.
Here are the different incisions that surgeons use in breast augmentation surgery:
1. Inframmary Incision
This incision is created along the natural breast fold or crease. The length will vary for each patient depending on the surgeon’s technique and implants used. Some practitioners prefer this location because it results in a simpler process. Any scarring will only be visible if the woman is lying down nude. However, if the done properly, the scar will be undetectable even without any clothing.
2. Periareolar Incision
A periareolar incision is created at the bottom edge of the areola (the pigmented area that surrounds the nipple). This placement may create a good camouflage for any scarring because it runs along the natural border of the areola. It will be inconspicuous at a casual glance.
However, this location also has a higher risk of exposure to the bacteria that are normally found on the breast tissue. If the incisions don’t heal well, it can lead to more visible scarring. Some practitioners also claim that this approach is highly likely to lead to capsular contracture (the formation of excess scar tissues around the breast implant which can distort breast shape).
3. Transaxillary Incision
In this technique, the incision is created along the crease of the armpit. This is suitable for women who have not had any prior breast surgery, prefer a saline implant, or those who don’t need a breast lift. An advantage to this incision is it does not leave a scar on your breasts, and any scarring is well concealed. However, surgeon’s may not directly visualize or feel the breast tissue, compromising precision and control with implant placement.
The major concern with this technique in terms of scarring is that the armpit scar can be visible when wearing sleeveless tops. It can also make shaving difficult.
4. Transumbilical Incision
Also called a TUBA incision, it is created through the navel. Empty breast implants are inserted through the navel to the breast and then inflated. It earned favour with many patients because the scar can be hidden in the belly button. While some swear by it, some practitioners do not use this technique because it comes with several risks which outweigh its benefits.
How does breast implant scars look like?
Once closed, your incisions will usually be thin. Once the wound heals, what is left is a red line along the edges of your incision. It will eventually turn into a lighter shade of pink and then whitens. From being slightly raised, it should also flatten out in texture over time.
No scar disappears to the discerning eye. Therefore, it is important that incisions are placed in areas where scars will not be noticeable once they fade.
It can take about a year for breast implant scars to completely fade, sometimes longer. If you have fairer skin, you have a good chance of getting thin and almost undetectable scars with proper post-operative care. Meanwhile, scarring tends to be most visible in people with darker skin, especially when there is hypopigmentation (skin lightening).
The effectiveness of scar management will also depend on your predisposition to bad scarring. If you don’t have any signs indicating that you are at risk for poor scarring, then all you need is proper wound protection. You may also use adjunctive treatments such as the following:
- Silicone Sheets or Scar Gels. These treatments can reduce the size and color of scars. When applied to the scar, the silicone attaches to the tissue at a molecular level. It creates tension on the skin surface signaling the body to shrink excess collagen. It can also repair broken blood vessels which cause the scars to appear red and swollen. These are applied approximately 3-4 weeks post-operatively and when the incisions are healed. It is continued for about six months to a year.
- Lightening Creams. These are over-the-counter products that work by reducing the pigment called melanin which causes the scar tissue to be darker than surrounding skin.
- Sunscreen. To prevent your scars from darkening, you must avoid prolonged sun (UV) exposure and protect your scar with a broad-spectrum sunscreen.
- Scar Massage. This starts as soon as the surgical dressings are taken off and the incisions are healed. It has the effect of softening the skin thereby preventing stiff scars. Gentle stroke can regulate the growth of collagen while encouraging skin elasticity and flexibility at the same time.
- Fractionated Lasers. It helps reduce the appearance of the scar allowing it to blend into surrounding skin. This is done in a series of treatments.
- Intralesional Steroid Injections. These are directly administered into a hypertrophic scar or keloid to reduce its size. Steroid injections can break the bonds between collagen fibers, reducing the amount of scar tissue below the skin. Since it comes with anti-inflammatory properties, this can also help reduce swelling, redness, tenderness and itching.
How to minimize scarring
Even though scarring is inevitable with surgery, there are measures that you can do before and after the procedure to accelerate the healing process and minimize the appearance of your scars.
- Do proper wound care.
- Avoid smoking at least 4 weeks before and after your procedure.
- A healthy diet gives your body’s reparative systems a boost.
- Stay out of the sun to prevent your scar from darkening.
- Don’t pick on your scabs, allow it to heal on its own.
While scars may be inevitable, there are ways on how to make them less visible. It should not threaten you against going after elective surgeries, like breast augmentation surgery, but it should also encourage you to be mindful of the measures that can help lessen its appearance.
For a detailed discussion and a personalized plan of action, you may book a consultation with Dr. Daood today!