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Scar Treatment, Does It Work?

Time may heal all wounds, but Life’s battle scars are often discolored, raised, itchy, stiff and painful.  A skilled surgeon is the best prevention to unsightly permanent scaring after surgery.  Precision in suturing and lack of stress at the incision sight ensures minimal scarring.  But scars are a natural and essential part of the healing process; they stop bleeding and protect wounds from additional physical damage. They usually improve over time, but may long be unsightly, or itch intensely; they can even restrict one’s movement if located near a joint.

There are multiple reasons for scaring, (surgery, burns, acne, etc.), and multiple types of scars. Scar treatments range too, from plastic surgery, laser treatment, silicone sheeting, to onion extract. Pharmacy aisles are filled with “clinically proven, doctor-recommended” scar products, and on the Internet one finds anecdotes and vitamins to “erase old scars and prevent new ones from forming”. But what really works?

 Keeping the scar moist and covered is key.  This job can be done with petroleum jelly or most of the much more expensive solutions.  Vitamin E may cause skin irritation.  Topical antibacterial creams or ointments can actually cause antibiotic resistance.  Silicone does seem to do a better job of keeping the scar covered, and that prevents water from evaporating from the skin.  Moisture allows the tissue to come in smoothly.  When a normal wound heals, the body produces new collagen fibers at a rate balanced with the breakdown of old collagen. Scar tissue, unlike other skin, does not regenerate, so this is the time to get it right. A wound that dries out produces a lower pitted scar.  Raised scars, (Hypertrophic), the result of overproduction of collagen, are red and thick and may be itchy or painful. They may continue to thicken for up to six months. Again, it is moisture that helps prevent this type of over production of collagen. 

Whatever method you choose to aid in your recovery… Wait to begin your treatment, the wound must be completely healed (i.e., no raw open areas, oozing, or scabs). Most important, be patient and consistent, use as indicated, for periods also up to several months. Scars change over time, often becoming lighter in color and less obtrusive.  Studies have found a 25 – 50 percent effective rate for over the counter treatments claiming to reduce the spread and darkening of scars. Surgical treatments, Collagen and steroid injections, as well as laser treatment may be further actions to discuss with your health care professional.  Remember scars, like the grain of fine wood tells the story we have lived, often adding character and distinction.

Hurricane Sandy and Surgery Healing

The entire Northeastern United States has been affected by this massive storm. Our hearts go out to families who lost loved ones in the disaster. Slowly things are beginning to return to normal; power has returned in many locations, and some gasoline has been delivered to gas stations to satisfy long lines of customers. So how has this effected surgery recovery?
Few situations get the focus Green Bay Packers WR Greg Jennings’ hernia surgery has. In Philadelphia, his surgery was postponed until Thursday,
due to Hurricane Sandy. The Packers and fantasy owners are entering heated playoff races, so surgery healing and Jenning’s rehab is topic for review. Jennings hopes to come back from his much needed surgery, to play again, before the season ends. Exact dates TBD.

But how has extreme weather effected the less publicized?

I know chemo patients who rushed to reschedule appointments to Monday, Pre-Sandy…and others frustrated by reschedule dates pushed further into November.

“POST-Operation Lap Band Surgery Questions & Answers” found bloggers in relatively good spirits…focusing on good “mushie” nutrition; without power or the help of a fridge. Post surgery cleanliness, a challenge without running water in New Jersey.

Emergency Responders, including our Doctors and Nurses press on seemingly at ease with the problems at hand. Maybe they are made of a tougher stock than the rest of us.

Dr. Jordan Metzl, a physician at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, was hoping to run the New York City Marathon today, instead he and 500 fellow Runners in Support of Staten Island are on there way to deliver emergency supplies to Staten Island.

Staten Island was one of the hardest hit areas during this week’s storm, accounting for about half of New York City’s 41 fatalities.

At 8;30 this morning, these athletes boarded the Staten Island Ferry, carrying  backpacks full of recovery aids: batteries, prepaid mobile phones, gift cards, baby wipes, personal hygiene items, medicine, garbage bags, hats and gloves, all for the hurricane victims of Staten Island.

“We have our courses mapped out and we will use our legs to do charitable work,” Metzl said. “The running community is the most charitable community I know.

I just think he might be right.

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