Breast Augmentation Scars: What You Need To Know
Breast augmentation surgery requires making an incision through which to place the implants. While an experienced surgeon is skilled at hiding incisions, there is a chance of scarring any time an incision is made in the skin.
Fortunately, an experienced plastic surgeon can take numerous steps to minimize the appearance of scars following breast augmentation. Additionally, there are numerous scar treatment options to address any scarring that does occur. Learn what to expect when it comes to scarring after breast augmentation.
Does Breast Augmentation Surgery Result In Scars?
Scarring is a natural part of the healing process, and the chance of scarring is present any time a surgical incision is made. That includes many common plastic surgery procedures. The size and location of your scars will depend on the size and type of breast implants used, the surgical technique used, and where your incisions were located.
Implant Size and Type: Smaller saline breast implants may be folded into a narrow shape for insertion, thus requiring a smaller incision. Silicone implants may need just a slightly longer incision when compared to saline implants.
Incision Location: There are three commonly used incision locations. Which one your doctor recommends will depend on your current anatomy and your desired breast augmentation results.
- Inframammary: This incision follows the natural curve underneath the breast and is hidden by the breast itself when sitting upright or standing. It’s only visible when the breast is lifted, or if you are lying down. It’s easily hidden underneath bras or bikini tops. This is the most common approach to modern breast augmentation.
- Periareolar: This semi-circular incision follows the natural curve of the areola and is camouflaged by the color change that takes place at this border.
- Transaxillary: This incision is placed in the armpit, avoiding scarring on the breasts. This technique is very specialized and not every patient is a good candidate. It is very important to choose a surgeon who is experienced and comfortable with the transaxillary approach. Not all plastic surgeons offer this type of breast augmentation.
- Transumbilical: This technique places the incision in the navel, or belly button. While it avoids scarring on the breast, it requires the use of unfilled implants, which are then later filled with saline. This is the least common option in modern day breast augmentation surgery.
What Do Breast Implant Incisions Look Like?
Generally, breast incisions heal very well. Breast implant incisions might look raised, swollen, red or pink as they are healing. Over time, they will become less noticeable as redness subsides and the scars smooth out.
How quickly your incision heals depends on your general health, age, genetics and skin tone. While most incisions fully heal by approximately one year, it can take anywhere from 6-18 months.
Will Scars Naturally Fade Over Time?
Yes and no. Scars may get lighter and smoother over time, but they will always be present. There’s no way to completely avoid scarring, but there are some things you can do to minimize the appearance of scars.
Tips for Minimizing Breast Augmentation Scarring
The single most important thing you can do to minimize scarring after breast augmentation is to choose an experienced aesthetic surgeon who has a passion for breast surgery. A skilled surgeon can perform your surgery with smaller, well-placed incisions and minimizes trauma to tissue. In addition, the following tips can help:
- If you smoke, quit at least one month before your procedure. Because nicotine constricts your blood vessels, less nutrients are sent to the skin, prolonging healing.
- Avoid sun exposure. Scar tissue reacts differently to UV rays than normal skin tissue. Exposing scars to the sun can lead to permanent discoloration. I recommend a mineral based sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
- Drink plenty of water and eat healthy whole foods during your recovery. A healthy diet provides your body with the nutrients needed to heal.
- Follow your doctor’s post-surgical advice. Properly caring for your wounds and avoiding too much activity too soon can prevent unexpected scarring.
If Scars Persist, Are There Treatment Options?
After your wounds have fully healed, you can begin treating your scars with the following scar-reduction methods.
- Topical hydrocortisone cream: Applying this cream to healed scars may help soften scarred skin, reducing the overall appearance of the scar.
- Silicone sheets: Applying these thin adhesive sheets to scars can reduce scar discoloration and smooth texture of the skin.
- Topical Vitamin E: With consistent application this anti-inflammatory may help minimize scars, although research is inconclusive.
- Scar Massage: The manual massaging of healed scars can help soften and flatten scar tissue.
If the above methods aren’t working and it’s been at least 6 months since your surgery, you might consider scar revision treatment, including the following:
- Laser Resurfacing: Laser treatments will not completely remove scars but can reduce their appearance significantly. Laser resurfacing works by using high energy laser light to treat scars and encourage better integration with surrounding skin.
- Microneedling: A non-surgical treatment that breaks up scar tissue. Growth factors can then be topically applied to further improve treated skin.
- Steroid Injections: The injection of a corticosteroid into a scar can reduce the inflammatory process and minimize its visibility. After injection, scar tissue may be able to be broken up with consistent massaging.
- Scar Revision Surgery: Typically considered a last resort, this option surgically removes old scar tissue leaving a smaller, thinner scar in its place.
While there’s no way to completely avoid scarring after breast augmentation, choosing a skilled surgeon and following post-operative care instructions closely can result in barely-noticeable scars.