Effective Scar Treatment For Mastectomy


Breast cancer is a serious condition affecting many women, although early detection and successful removal of the tumors has reduced the mortality rate. Even so, after breast cancer surgery there will be scars.

The extent of the scarring is dependent on the type of surgery done, and even a none-invasive therapy such as radiation can leave hardened areas that are nearly as bothersome as an actual scar.

Most cancer patients are relieved when the threat of life-ending cancer is removed through surgery, and it is only after the fact that a disfiguring scar becomes an issue. Some women are able to accept the fact that their surgery has left physical scars and regard them as a badge of victory over cancer.

Other women have more difficulty with scars that they believe are very ugly and disfiguring. It is quite normal for scars to be red and angry looking for a few months after the surgery, but most of the time the color of the scar will fade to white within a year.

If a breast reconstruction will be done after a mastectomy, the original scarred tissue resulting from the original surgery will be eliminated during that process. Of course there will be more scars resulting from the reconstruction surgery, but they will probably not be very noticeable because of their location.

Even women who have lumpectomies rather than mastectomies are left with smaller scars of various sizes. Here again, whether there is great concern over the appearance of the scar tissue depends on the attitude of the patient.

Post surgical massage is a form of scar treatment for mastectomy that can help reduce the scarring left by any level of breast cancer surgery. This massage is performed by an occupational therapist, and instructions are given to the patient about how to perform the massage themselves.

The scar must be completely healed before the massage therapy can begin, and it works by softening the scar tissue and encouraging the tissue layers of the skin to flatten so the appearance of scarring is minimized. Collagen production is also stimulated by the massage, causing new tissue to form and helps to reduce the tightness and pain that can accompany scarring.

Although there are some topical products that provide a lower level of scar treatment for mastectomy, other more effective treatments include therapeutic stretching and massaging of the incision site during the first year.

If this massage technique is not done properly, it is more likely that the patient will experience tightness and possibly pain in the scarred area. A vigorous, targeted deep tissue massage helps to eliminate the tightly constricted tissue that typically develops at an incision site.

Many times breast cancer patients also develop lymphedema in their arm after surgery. This can occur because the lymph nodes in the armpit area have been removed, but it can also occur because the circulation of blood and lymphatic fluid is restricted due to the constricted tissue that scarring causes. This health problem can be reduced or eliminated when there is adequate scar treatment for mastectomy.

If the scars resulting from breast surgery have not faded enough to be acceptable by the cancer patient, there are non-invasive treatments that can make them less noticeable. In addition to the therapeutic massage treatments already discussed in this article, there are silicon sheets and scar reducing creams that can be applied.

The silicone sheets are applied to the scarred area and secured in place with surgical place. It is believed that the silicone works to reduce the raised area of the scar through friction when worn for extended periods of time. The silicone can be somewhat irritating and itchy while it is being worn, but the final results can make the discomfort worth it.

Scar reducing gel products can also be effective over time, but it is typically used for smaller scars and stretch marks. It may be necessary to use the product for an extended period before any improvement is noticeable.

Microdermabrasion is a more aggressive treatment to reduce the appearance of scar tissue. The process uses extremely fine crystals to remove the top layer of tissue and can make raised scars or pitted skin smoother.

If a patient has sensitive skin the process may be too painful for them, or may cause more discoloration to the scarred area. Laser treatment is often used during the dermabrasion process to help break down the excess tissue that causes raised scars. The laser is also absorbed by red or brown discolorations, so the discolored areas become lighter to match the surrounding skin better.

Cortisone injections are often used to by dermatologists to reduce the appearance of scar tissue. Cortisone is a steroid and when it is injected into the scar tissue, it causes it to shrink and become flatter and less obvious.

When the mastectomy patient cannot get satisfactory scar reduction through massage therapy, silicone sheets, microdermabrasion or the application of topical treatments, surgical scar revision may be the treatment of choice.

This process involves the surgical removal of a long, wide or very noticeable scar. With the old scarred tissue removed, the surgeon rejoins the surrounding skin in a more cosmetically pleasing way. There will still be a scar after this procedure, but it will be smoother and less severe than the previous one.

As someone who has survived melanoma, I have some serious scars from the surgical removal of lymph nodes. Although my cancer did not involve a mastectomy, my scars are just as devastating to me. It has been nearly 20 years now since my surgery, and the scars are still evident but no longer raised or red.

I am fortunate to have survived this very deadly type of cancer, but I still deal with the scars I am left with. It is hoped that this article will provide guidance and hope for breast cancer survivors. Perhaps the scars on their body can be made less noticeable, and then the scars on their emotions can also begin to heal.


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