Can a Scar from Heart Surgery Be Made Smaller?

I had heart surgery last April. I'm 42 years old and the scar is small from the top but huge at the bottom. What can be done to minimize this scar and when can I seek treatment?

Doctor Answers (7)

Sternotomy scar


There are many fine plastic surgeons in Atlanta who can evaluate your incision and can determine if there are any ways to make it thinner and less noticeable.  If your heart is fine now, it is reasonable to visit them and ask. 

Seattle Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Heart surgery scars and sternotomy scars can be improved


Heart surgery scars can be improved with IIT, laser, and pressure treatment.  Rarely do I surgically excise these scars from the midline chest. Check out our before and after photos on our website.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

Heart surgery scar


 The scars after heart surgery can become red, hard , elevated & wide. The earlier the treatment, the better off the results. A combination of intra-lesional corticosteroid injection & freezing with liquid nitrogen [cryo therapy], give very good results with barely-noticeable scars.

Khaled El-Hoshy, MD
Detroit Dermatologic Surgeon

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Chest scar


Scars from heart surgery can certainly widen. This is a fairly common thing. Sometimes a scar revision can be performed with or without steroid injections to improve the quality of the scar.

Steven Wallach, MD
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Chest scar treatment options


There are various treatment options for a chest scar that you describe, and most commonly intralesional cortisone is employed. Occasionally surgical scar revision is used, or dermabrasion, or even fractional laser. Silicone gel sheeting can provide some modest improvement as well. The scar should be assessed by your local friendly dermatologist or plastic surgeon and then the best treatment option can be determined.

Benjamin Barankin, MD
Toronto Dermatologic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Large scar on the chest


After a bypass procedure it is not unusual to have a very noticeable scar on the chest since this area routinely scars poorly. It is also difficult to improve. After your heart surgeon says you may be treated to improve this scar then you may want to go to a Plastic Surgeon to see if it can be improved. There are some options such as steroid injections(kenaloge) and topical items such as silicone and surgical excision. The scar may be a keloid which is a more difficult problem but it is probable hypertrophic and will improve for at least the first year on its own.

Walter D. Gracia, MD
Arlington Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

Improvement and narrowing of Heart Surgery (Sternotomy) Scar


Since the same surgeon closed both the top as well as the bottom of your chest scar, it may be safe to assume that something took place which allowed or led to the scar widening. Usually, this area of the body is always tugged on since every arm movement results in pulling across the chest.

If your Heart surgeon approves, I would see one of the many gifted colleagues we have in Atlanta and have him / her revise the scar. Providing you are not taking immunosupressing medications, you should have a much better result.

Dr. P. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 66 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.