Is there any way to reduce scars after surgery? During my research into natural ingredients for sensitive skin, I have been approached several times to make something for skin healing and scar reduction after an operation.
Having had surgery several times myself, I was keen to help. I am not a dermatologist or a doctor, I am a botanical formulator. So these are some of the findings from my personal study, research and experience including feedback from some happy clients. I am sharing here for anyone who wants some nourishing ingredients to nurture their skin through a very sensitive time.
The 1st few days after surgery:
Follow your doctors advice on caring for your wound. This first week is not the time to be applying any home remedies for skin care. You need to wait until the wound has closed and the inflammation has reduced. The NHS department of dermatology advises that once a scab has formed and settled and the wound is no longer tender, regular massage around the area with an emollient or bio oil 2-3 times a day can be helpful.
WHICH OILS TO USE FOR SCARS?
Once your skin is ready, you can start using an emollient or oil. The best oils need to perform several important functions to help minimise scarring:
- Keep the skin hydrated by protecting it from moisture loss. Keeping the skin hydrated reduces the production of fibrous tissue which creates scars, resulting in a softer flatter scar. Fragile post surgery skin is unprotected and so it is very prone to moisture loss and dehydration. When healing skin is dehydrated it responds by overproducing the fibrous content of scar tissue.
- Protect against bacterial invasion. Excessive collagen production can be induced by bacteria.
- Be emollient to soften and soothe the skin. Dry and traumatised skin often becomes itchy as it repairs. Itching it causes further damage.
- Nourish the skin to encourage healing.
The 3 wonderful botanical oils below are my top edit from a number of possibilities. Follow for more blog posts on caring for sensitive skin.
Pracaxi oil has been used in the Amazon for many years for stretch marks and minimising scarring. With its long chain fatty acids and an exceptionally high behenic acid content, Pracaxi oil has a waxy feel and creates a natural protective barrier. In fragile post-surgery skin this is vital for preventing dehydration and bacterial infection.
A study has shown the addition of Pracaxi oil to a silicone base be very effective in the healing of surgical wounds and the appearance of scars.
Rose hip seed oil
It is now well known as a great natural oil for scar healing, and is nourishing for the skin. Its vitamin A content helps the skin to increase the flexible ‘elastin’ tissues. Vitamin E and C help support the lipid barrier which protects the skin. While its high level of Omega 3, minerals and carotenoids are beneficial in the healthy regeneration of the skin.
Rose hip seed oil has been found in clinical trials to be active in the improved appearance of scar tissue.
Extracted from the seeds of a tree in the South Pacific, Tamanu oil has been credited with some incredible skin healing properties.
In 1918, researchers were first impressed by its skin regenerating effects, which accelerate wound healing. In 2002, participants of a study applied a product containing Tamanu Oil to aged scars twice daily for nine weeks and saw improvement.
Also known for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant benefits, it would be a great ingredient to include in a skin massage oil post surgery.
HOW TO APPLY THE OILS
Make a blend with a third of each, as they all have different functions, benefits, scents and feel.
Put your blend into a bottle with a roller ball top and massage with the roller ball. Or you can blend into a small bowl and massage with your index finger. Go around the edge of the wound rather than over it initially, to ensure that you don’t re-open the wound.
Although you must wait a week or so until the scab has settled and the inflammation reduced before you do this, the best improvement in the appearance of scar tissue is always seen with scar tissue in the 1st few months of healing. Older scars are harder to improve. However as some of the studies above have shown, there is some hope for these too.
The massage action itself will also help breakdown any excessive fibrous tissue as it is forming. So do this 2-3 times a day for a couple of months.
Naturally, it goes without saying that everyones skin is different, so if for some reason your skin becomes irritated by any of these oils, then wash off and stop use.
COMING SOON – I am working on an oil blend specifically for post surgery skin. Sign up below if you are interested in hearing more.
All recommendations on our website and social media channels are provided for general information purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease, or replace the advice of medically qualified professionals. No claims are made as to any medicinal value of these formulas, products or oils. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical counselling with a health care professional. Always seek the advice of a doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.