What to Put on Scars After Surgery: 6 Best Practices

by Ella

Scars are the body’s natural response to injury or surgery, and while they signify the body’s remarkable ability to heal, they can also be a source of concern for many individuals. Whether you’ve undergone a major surgical procedure or a minor operation, proper scar care is essential for optimal healing and minimizing their appearance. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various factors influencing scar formation, the importance of scar care, and the best practices for what to put on scars after surgery to promote healing and reduce their visibility.


Understanding Scar Formation

Before delving into scar care, it’s crucial to understand how scars form. When the skin is injured, whether through surgery, trauma, or other means, the body initiates a complex process of wound healing. This process involves several stages:


Inflammation: Immediately after injury, the body responds by sending inflammatory cells to the site of the wound to ward off infection and remove damaged tissue.


Proliferation: During this stage, new tissue, primarily composed of collagen, is laid down to fill the wound and restore its structural integrity.


Remodeling: Over time, the newly formed tissue undergoes remodeling, during which the initial collagen fibers are rearranged and realigned to strengthen the wound.

While this process is remarkable in its ability to repair damaged tissue, it often results in the formation of scars. The appearance and severity of scars can vary depending on factors such as the depth and extent of the wound, individual genetics, and the quality of wound care.

The Importance of Scar Care

Proper scar care is essential for several reasons:

Promoting Healing: Certain interventions can facilitate the wound healing process, leading to faster recovery and improved outcomes.

Minimizing Scar Formation: By implementing appropriate scar care techniques, it’s possible to minimize scar formation and reduce the visibility of existing scars.

Addressing Complications: In some cases, scars may develop complications such as hypertrophy, keloids, or infection. Effective scar care can help prevent or manage these issues.

What to Put on Scars After Surgery: Best Practices

When it comes to scar care after surgery, there are several approaches and products available. While no single treatment is universally effective for all individuals or types of scars, a combination of strategies often yields the best results. Here are some best practices for what to put on scars after surgery:

1. Keep the Wound Clean and Moisturized: Proper wound hygiene is crucial for preventing infection and promoting healing. Clean the wound gently with mild soap and water, and pat it dry with a clean towel. Avoid harsh scrubbing or rubbing, as this can irritate the wound. Once the wound is clean, apply a thin layer of moisturizing ointment or cream to keep the area hydrated.

2. Use Silicone-Based Products: Silicone-based products, such as sheets, gels, and creams, are widely regarded as effective for scar management. These products create a protective barrier over the scar, which helps retain moisture, improve collagen production, and flatten the scar over time. Silicone sheets can be applied directly to the scar and worn for several hours each day, while silicone gels or creams can be massaged into the scar twice daily.

3. Consider Scar Massage: Scar massage involves gently massaging the scar tissue to break up adhesions, improve circulation, and promote collagen remodeling. Use a gentle, circular motion to massage the scar for several minutes each day. You can use your fingers or a soft silicone applicator designed for scar massage.

4. Explore Topical Treatments: In addition to silicone-based products, several other topical treatments may benefit scar healing. These include vitamin E oil, which has antioxidant properties that may help improve scar appearance; onion extract, which has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve scar texture; and cocoa butter or shea butter, which can help moisturize the skin and promote healing.

5. Protect the Scar from Sun Exposure: Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause scars to darken and become more noticeable. To protect your scar from sun damage, avoid prolonged sun exposure, especially during peak hours (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher. Apply sunscreen generously to the scar and surrounding skin, and reapply every two hours or after swimming or sweating.

6. Consider Professional Interventions: In some cases, professional interventions such as laser therapy, corticosteroid injections, or surgical scar revision may be necessary to improve the appearance of scars. These treatments should be performed by qualified healthcare professionals and tailored to the individual’s specific needs and scar characteristics.

See Also: 4 Treatment Options for Accelerating Scar Healing


1. How long does it take for a scar to heal after surgery?

The healing process can vary depending on factors such as the type and extent of the surgery, individual healing capabilities, and scar care practices. In general, scars may continue to evolve and improve for up to a year or more following surgery.

2. Is it normal for scars to be red and raised after surgery?

Yes, it is normal for scars to appear red, raised, or slightly swollen during the early stages of healing. This is part of the body’s natural response to injury and inflammation. Over time, scars typically become lighter in color and flatten as they mature.

3. Can I apply makeup over a scar after surgery?

Once the wound has fully healed and any scabs or crusts have fallen off, it is generally safe to apply makeup over a scar. However, it’s essential to choose non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic makeup products and avoid applying makeup directly onto an open or still-healing wound.

4. Are there any foods or supplements that can help promote scar healing?

While there is limited scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of specific foods or supplements for scar healing, maintaining a healthy, balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can support overall wound healing and skin health. Some nutrients that may be beneficial for scar healing include vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and protein.

5. Can I remove stitches or surgical tape from a scar myself?

It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding the removal of stitches or surgical tape. In most cases, stitches are removed by a healthcare professional during a follow-up appointment. Attempting to remove stitches or surgical tape yourself can increase the risk of infection or disrupt the healing process.

6. How can I prevent scars from forming after surgery?

While it’s not always possible to prevent scars entirely, certain measures can help minimize their formation and improve their appearance. These include proper wound care, avoiding excessive tension on the wound site, protecting the wound from sun exposure, and following your healthcare provider’s post-operative instructions closely.

7. What should I do if my scar becomes itchy or painful?

Itching and mild discomfort are common as scars heal, but if your symptoms are severe or persistent, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider. They can evaluate the scar for signs of infection or other complications and recommend appropriate treatment, such as topical medications or dressings.

8. Will massaging my scar really make a difference in its appearance?

Scar massage is believed to help improve blood circulation, break up scar tissue adhesions, and promote collagen remodeling, which can ultimately lead to a softer, flatter scar. While the effectiveness of scar massage may vary from person to person, many individuals find it beneficial as part of their scar care routine.

9. Can I exercise after surgery if I have stitches or a healing scar?

It’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations regarding physical activity after surgery. In general, light to moderate exercise may be permissible as long as it does not put excessive strain on the healing wound. Avoid activities that involve heavy lifting, straining, or direct pressure on the scar until it has fully healed.


Scars are a natural part of the body’s healing process, but with proper care and management, their appearance can be minimized, and their impact reduced. By following the best practices outlined in this guide and being consistent with scar care, individuals can promote optimal healing and achieve better outcomes after surgery. Remember that scar healing is a gradual process that requires patience and diligence, but with time and the right interventions, scars can fade and become less noticeable, allowing you to feel more confident in your skin.


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