New device could minimise cosmetic surgery scarring

cosmetic surgery scarring

All cosmetic surgery procedures entail making incisions in the skin, which means that scarring is always a question that patients ask during their consultation. Understanding the nature of scars patients will be left with, and what they can do to help them heal, is an important part of the discussion that will take part between the plastic surgeon and the patient.

Understanding cosmetic surgery scars

Firstly, to understand more about scarring we need to understand more about the skin. In the simplest terms, it is made up of two key layers, the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the top level, and if this is damaged in any way then a naturally-occurring component called collagen helps the skin to fuse back together.

The dermis is a deeper layer underneath the skin, which contains nerve endings, blood vessels and thicker tissue. If an incision is made through the dermis then it takes much longer to heal and there is a greater risk of visible scarring afterwards.

No two cases are the same

A good cosmetic surgeon will plan the procedure carefully to ensure that any incisions made are neat, as small as possible and placed in the optimal position. From a surgical perspective, this will give the scar the best chance of healing and fading in time. The other elements are a bit harder to predict, as how well a scar forms and heals is heavily influenced by the patient’s own healing response and how healthy they are. Some people’s skin heals faster due to high levels of collagen and a good blood supply, others find it takes longer and the scar is more visible.

A new device could now help with cosmetic surgery scarring

Researchers in the US have developed a new tool which could potentially help reduce scarring left from cosmetic surgery procedures. It is well known that the skin is made up of lines of cells, which stretch effectively in one direction, and not in the other. In simple terms, it is like cutting into a steak – if you cut along the grain then it is much easier to cut compared with cutting through it, crossing the lines. The same principle is true for the way the skin is made up.

Surgeons use these lines to plan where to make incisions, as the researchers explain, “if you make incisions across the direction that collagen is aligned, the risk of keloid scar formation (raised scars that can grow larger than the original injury) is increased. Cut along the direction of the aligned collagen and wounds heal better and produce less scarring.”

Until now, knowledge of exactly where the lines fall has been limited; “surgeons currently use either skin tension line maps (of which there are many, and often different) or manual manipulation to find the local orientation of skin tension. Manual manipulation is often inaccurate, and our research demonstrates that skin tension line directions differ between people – so maps are only approximate.”

With this knowledge in mind, researchers have developed a device which quickly scans the skin and enables surgeons to know exactly where the tension lines fall. This is likely to have a significant impact on how well an incision can be made and it will give the body the best possible chance of healing effectively from a surgical incision.

During your cosmetic surgery consultation, potential scarring from your procedure will be discussed in depth as well as advice given on how best to speed up the healing process and minimise scarring. To arrange your consultation at our central London cosmetic surgery clinic, call 020 7118 6887.