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Yesterday I had the fascinating experience of being able to watch a surgery done on my right hand. Even if a procedure is minor, any surgery is an assault on your body. Tissue is damaged and moved around. Medications linger in the body. You may have to spend a day or two in the hospital, and you will likely have to fast prior to your procedure. If you are anything like me, you also may have had trouble sleeping the night before. Healing is a multi-faceted process, and improper healing can make scars worse. Taking good care of yourself is an important part of minimizing scarring after surgery.

10 Simple Tips to Minimize Scarring After Surgery

Here are some surgery recovery tips that can help minimize scarring.

1. Rest

I cannot emphasize this enough. Your body detoxes, builds tissue, and replenishes itself while you sleep. Allow yourself at least 24 hours AFTER you get home to do absolutely nothing. A good guideline is one day of rest for every day you were hospitalized. Even with outpatient procedures, it’s likely you will have to be up super early, and that fasting and anesthesia will leave you drained. If you are exhausted, you will not heal properly. Prioritize rest.

2. Hydrate

Due to fasting, most people are a little dehydrated prior to surgery. Often, you will be given IV fluids while in the hospital. Once you come home, it is important to drink plenty of water or electrolyte solution. Water is essential for your body’s healing processes and will help flush lingering medications from your system.

3. Eat smart

To rebuild tissue, your body needs protein, carbohydrates, and calcium, among other nutrients. You may feel nauseated, and only want carbs, but do your best to get a little protein also. Homemade soups or smoothies are a great way to pack nutrition in a small amount of fodd, and can help with hydration as well.

4. Go easy on the anti-inflammatories

Inflammation is your body’s response to injury. It is part of the healing process and helps to isolate infectious material. Shutting down this process for extended periods is not great for your immune system and can make you more prone to infection. Especially if you are also prescribed steroids, be careful about taking anti-inflammatory medicines (like ibuprofen) for pain relief. Talk to your doctor about what medicines will work best without inhibiting healing and don’t take anything over the counter without checking with your doctor or pharmacist.

5. Move, gently

Movement helps with circulation, which reduces swelling and speeds healing. As soon as you can, begin taking short walks. If you can’t walk, or if you are confined to bed, try folding laundry. Your doctor may give you exercises to do, as well. Don’t do anything that hurts or puts strain on your incision, but do make sure you move around as much as you can.

6. Keep an eye on your wound

If you have any signs of infection, tell your doctor immediately. Also, check any bandage sites for redness or itching. It is possible to react to adhesives that are on your skin for extended periods of time, and that can leave nasty scars. Dissolving stitches don’t always dissolve properly, and may still need to be removed. Most surgical sites start to improve in appearance after several days. If yours is looking worse, check in with your doctor.

7. Keep your follow-up appointment

This may seem obvious, but so many people don’t. This is your opportunity to ask about the later stages of healing, like scar tissue and movement problems. The sooner these get addressed, the less likely they are to be permanent.

8. Drink carrot juice

Carrot juice is rich in nutrients that benefit your skin, like potassium and antioxidants. It also has natural anti-inflammatory properties which may help with pain. Fresh juices are great for you, help with hydration, and can reduce nausea.

9. Try bentonite clay

Most beauty aficionados love clay masks for their effect on the face. But, did you know that bentonite clay helps oxygenate your skin cells, which can speed healing and reduce the appearance of scars?

10. Use nutrient rich natural moisturizers

Surgical sites can be itchy and dry for weeks. You may have reactions to adhesives and stitches, which can cause red, itchy, flaky skin around your incision. Try applying natural moisturizers with additional healing benefits, like aloe vera juice, coconut oil, or hazelnut oil. (Always ask your doctor before applying any topical treatments to a surgical site.)

Do you have any tips for dealing with scars? Please comment below!

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