What is the Best Way to Cope with Mastectomy Scars?

Autumn Rivers

Once the cancerous tumors have been removed, along with most or all of the breast, the next worry of some patients is how to cover the resulting scars. The amount of scarring post mastectomy usually varies for each individual, as the resilience of the skin has a lot to do with the result. In many cases, time is the only way to heal a scar, though massaging lotion into the skin may help in the meantime. Plastic surgery is another option, as some patients find mastectomy scars disturbing enough to warrant another operation just to get rid of them. Of course, some scars are unlikely to ever go away, prompting some people to make the best of the situation by adding a tattoo over them.

Women who have had a mastectomy may look into using prosthetic breasts.
Women who have had a mastectomy may look into using prosthetic breasts.

There are plenty of types of lotion on the market that are considered helpful for healing the skin. Some of the most popular types have ingredients like cocoa butter, olive oil, and vitamin E. While many people claim that certain lotions work better than others, it has been found that the most effective part of lotion is the application of it, not the product itself. This is because massaging the skin can help increase blood flow to the area, which in turn often stimulates collagen production, improving the healing process. Keeping mastectomy scars moist with lotion is important since it can increase the skin's elasticity, but the type of moisturizer is not usually important.

Some mastectomy scars are unlikely to ever go away.
Some mastectomy scars are unlikely to ever go away.

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Some patients find it difficult to deal with mastectomy scars that are still present years after breast removal. Thus, they may look into plastic surgery to remove them, which often involves applying a laser to the area since the heat can remove scarring. Some doctors prefer to use steroid injections instead, while others remove the scars through excision. Either way, patients should know that while this method of getting rid of mastectomy scars can be effective, it also comes with many risks, including the possibility of making the scarring worse than before.

Creams that contain vitamin E may be helpful in treating mastectomy scars.
Creams that contain vitamin E may be helpful in treating mastectomy scars.

Women who have not been able to remove their mastectomy scars may give up eventually, deciding instead to improve them. For instance, one popular idea is to incorporate them in a tattoo on the chest, as this can cover them while also adding an attractive design to the area. One of the most common tattoo ideas involving scars is the image of a necklace of wildflowers that wraps around the chest. Patients are usually advised to wait until the scars are totally healed, which may take about a year. They are also encouraged to find a tattoo artist who has worked with scar tissue before.

Breastfeeding may lower a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.
Breastfeeding may lower a woman's risk of developing breast cancer.

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Discussion Comments

burcinc

@donasmrs-- I understand how you feel. I'm in the same boat and I asked my doctor about this. He said not to do anything for one year after surgery. He told me that although the scars are red now, they will fade and whiten over time and that I need to be patient. He doesn't have a problem with me using scar creams but he clearly said not to use anything like laser treatment at this point. You should talk to your doctor but I'm sure that your doctor's recommendation will be the same.

Have you tried silicone scar sheets? These are sold over-the-counter and mimic the products that hospitals use to fade scars. I've heard good things about them, you may want to give those sheets a try. Right now, I'm just using cocoa butter and vitamin E oil on my mastectomy scars.

donasmrs

I have become very conscious of scars after my mastectomy. They are very red and I want them to fade as soon as possible. I had the mastectomy six months ago. Do I need to wait a certain period of time before getting laser treatment to remove the scars?

SteamLouis

Although I agree that scar lotions help keep skin moisturized and elastic, I think some lotions really do fade scars thanks to the ingredients. For example, there are many natural herbs and oils that help fade scars and improve texture and color of skin. Lavender oil, tea tree oil and almond oil are good examples. Something like vitamin E oil also helps skin regenerate and heal. So I don't think that scar creams work just because of massage or moisture.

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