Cosmetic surgery can make you look more beautiful, help you feel more confident, and have a very positive impact on your life. However, plastic surgery can also have the unpleasant trade-off of some surgical scarring. In time, the majority of these scars will end up healing into a subtle white line. But sometimes surgical scars can end up looking unsightly or not heal well and be sensitive to pressure.

There are a number of issues that play a role in how well the scars heal. These include:

  • Body area - there are certain parts of the body like the sternal area, shoulders, and back, that have a tendency to heal with poor scarring. Body parts that have a lot of motion like the knees, normally heal with less than favorable scars. Ask your surgeon for information on how well the part of your body you plan on having cosmetic surgery on tends to scar.

  • The doctor's technique - meticulous attention while working on the incisions will aid in healing the best possible scar. Make sure your doctor has extensive experience in your particular procedure. Also realize that if your surgeon presents you with before and after photos, the surgical scars in the after photos usually will not have been fully healed at the time the photograph was taken.

  • Post-surgery care - specific actions to help avoid bad scarring, or treat bad scars. You must follow your doctor's advice. If you have any concerns, questions, or emergencies while recovering from your plastic surgery, contact your doctor's office immediately.

  • Genetics - a number of patients will naturally heal with great scars and some people heal with poor scars. Older patients generally heal with good scars. Children as well as individuals with darker skin often have scars that do not heal as well.
Out of these four issues, only post-operative care and surgical technique can be controlled. To increase your chances of healing with good surgical scars, be very careful and informed when selecting your plastic surgeon, and be meticulous in following directions for post-surgery care.

Some plastic surgery patients believe certain salves or ointments will help their scars to heal better and be less visible. Most scars will heal well in about a year regardless of fancy ointments. Surgical scars often can be improved, but it is not possible to completely eliminate an existing scar.