Scar Revision: Cost, Risks, Recovery

Overview

Scar revision is a surgery to improve or reduce the appearance of scars. It also corrects skin changes and restores skin function. Mostly, these problems are caused by wounds, injury, and previous surgery. Depending on the extent of the surgery, scar revision can be done when you are awake, sleeping, or deep asleep and pain-free.

The time to have a scar revision varies from person to person, as each scar is different in color, size, severity, and formation time. So, you may have the surgery until the scar lightens in color. For some scars, it’s best to wait 60 to 90 days after the scar matures.

Candidates

A good candidate for scar revision includes:

  • Bothered by a scar anywhere on the body
  • No active acne or other skin diseases in the related area
  • Physically healthy and do not have other illnesses that impair the healing
  • Nonsmokers
  • Non-drug users
  • Have a positive and realistic outlook toward the surgery

Costs

Scar revision cost varies widely depending on several factors, such as size and depth of the scar, the technique required and geographic locations.

As is reflected in some real cases, the average cost is $1,475. But it can range from $500 to $5,000 in some special cases. And the total cost encompasses the surgeon’s fee, facility fee, and anesthesia fee.

Risks

Although scar revision surgery is generally safe, you may undergo risks like any other reconstructive procedure. Therefore, be sure that you can accept potential risks and complications before making the decision. These risks include:

  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Delayed healing
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Change in skin sensation
  • Damage to deeper structures including nerves, blood vessels, muscles and lungs can occur and may be temporary or permanent
  • Allergies to tape, suture materials and glues, blood products, topical preparations or injected agents
  • Skin problems such as skin discoloration, swelling
  • Sensitivity
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Pain, which may persist
  • The potential need for additional surgical procedures or staged procedures

Preparation

If you are considering a scar revision surgery, you will first need to have a consultation with a facial plastic surgeon. Your surgeon will give you some special instructions, which include:

  • The techniques and anesthesia that will be used
  • The type of facility
  • Where the surgery will be performed
  • The risks and costs involved
  • Post-operative care and follow-up

Prior to scar revision surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Get lab testing or a medical evaluation
  • Take certain medications or adjust your current medications
  • Stop smoking well in advance of surgery
  • Avoid taking aspirin and certain anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding

Surgical steps

A scar revision surgery consists of the following steps:

First, your surgeon will administer medications including sedation and general anesthesia to ensure your comfort.

Then, your plastic surgeon may apply a single technique to revise your scar or recommend a combination of scar revision techniques to achieve the best results. Here are some possible treatments:

  • Topical treatments to facilitate wound closure and healing or suppress the production of irregular pigment
  • Injectable treatments such as dermal filler to fill depressed or concave scars, or steroidal-based compounds to reduce collagen formation
  • Surface treatments to soften surface irregularities and reduce uneven pigmentation
  • Dermabrasion to smooth out face irregularities in a mechanical way
  • Laser or light therapy to form new and healthy skin on the surface of the scar
  • Chemical peel solutions to soften irregularities by penetrating the skin’s surface
  • Skin bleaching agents to lighten the skin

Sometimes, your surgeon may find it necessary to have an additional surgery to remove an old scar in the treated area of your skin.

Lastly, to close the incisions, several techniques may be considered:

  • Layered closure

It is often used if excision extends to highly sensitive area below the skin surface.

  • Complex flap closures and W-plasty or Z-plasty techniques

These two are advanced techniques often used in a scar revision surgery.

  • Pharmaceutical tissue substitutes

They may be used, if there aren’t enough healthy tissue for closing a scar excision.

  • Tissue expansion

It can replace skin grafts. Typically, it involves multiple stages or procedures to achieve the ultimate goal of scar revision.

Recovery

The initial healing phase will last for one to two weeks. During this period, unfavorable symptoms such as swelling, discoloration or discomfort will continue. The complete recovery time needs several weeks. And your new scar will heal and fade gradually.

However, you should be aware that skin tissue takes time to recover. You may not see apparent results until a year after your surgery, but the results are commonly long-lasting.

Keywords: scar revision.

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.