6 weeks out and arm scars are sore and red. Should I use paper tape or silicone sheets?

Doctor Answers 7

What to use on scars

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Thank you for your question. This is a very good question because I'm sure MANY patients wonder the same thing! I have not seen any photos of your scars so I am basing my answer on your description of them. At 6 weeks it is actually quite normal to have scars that are pink/red and a little raised. These scars are considered "immature" scars and are still undergoing being processed by the body.

I have done a fellowship in burn reconstruction surgery and a lot of how I treat scars in my cosmetic practice is from what I learned and practiced during that training. There are number of things that I tell my patients and most of this depends on if the scar is completely healed....

1) Scar massage- I tell them to massage their scars pretty aggressively. The scars can be massaged in many different directions. This can help flatten raised scars pretty well on its own! Trust me, I know because I have had to do it on myself and it worked!!

2) Moisturization- I also encourage my patients to keep the incision moisturized. There has not been any study that I know of that has proven that there is a topical agent that truly makes your scar heal better. This includes Mederma. So I let my patients pick what they like as long as it is really moisturizing. For the most part I tell them to use Eucerin and come use cocoa butter, vitamin E oil etc...Whatever they use, I encourage moisturization at least 3 times a day if not more.

3) Silicone strips- These can be found over the counter or online. If these are going to work they must be worn ALL THE TIME!!!! 23.5 hours per day. They are only taken off to shower and to re-moisturize. When moisturizing the scar, the product of choice needs to be thoroughly massaged in and absorbed so that no greasy residue is left behind and should be allowed to air dry for a very short period of time. This will allow the silicone strips to stick on better. The strips can be cut to size and can be re-used until they stop sticking!

4) Pressure- pressure applied to raised scars is also helpful. It is difficult to apply pressure to scars in certain areas but pressure garments can sometimes help if adequate pressure can be generated at the proper location.

There are many different opinions on scar treatments...For you, at this time, what I would suggest is having a conversation with your plastic surgeon and see what he recommends based on his experience. He would need to evaluate your scar and make sure you are ready for any type of scar treatment. I hope this helps!

Ankur Mehta MD

Sugar Land Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 25 reviews

6 weeks out and arm scars are sore and red. Should I use paper tape or silicone sheets?

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Yes, either is helpful. But see what is easiest to use and make sure to leave the tape on as long as adhesive still works. Premature or frequent removal of tape can cause irritation, which worsens scars.

Silicone sheets are the only scar treatment that has been shown in the medical literature to be helpful with hypertrophic or immature scars, but paper tape has been called the "poor man's silicone sheeting," so you can give it a try if silicone sheeting is too expensive or difficult to use. Keep the scars out of the sun in the meantime. Good luck and bets wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

6 weeks out and arm scars are sore and red. Should I use paper tape or silicone sheets?

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Before you apply anything to your scars, check with surgeon first to make sure that nothing else is going on, like an infection.  In my practice, I advise my patients to avoid prolonged sun exposure, use sunscreen, and use moisturizer like vitamin E cream.  Some also prefer to use scar products like Mederma or Scar Guard.  Silicone sheets can also be considered - be sure to have your surgeon examine you first.  Good luck!

Zachary Farris, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

6 weeks out from brachioplasty - scar treatment recommendations?

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6 weeks out from a brachioplasty is still fairly early, so some segments of the scar, especially those that are under more tension or nearer to mobile areas such as the armpit, can have a little more redness/tenderness. Make sure to consult your surgeon to determine if there is an element of wound healing issues or infection before using any topical treatments. If there is no infection or open area, starting a scar treatment regimen at this point is not a bad idea. There are a lot of over the counter treatments available, and the jury is out as to what is the most effective. Some people swear by silicone gel or sheeting, others by vitamin E, coconut oil, emu oil, etc, while others say that paper tape works the best. As long as you don't have an adverse reaction to any of these they are all reasonable to try. 

Tracy Kayan, MD
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 11 reviews

Arm scar sore and red

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Would be helpful to see photos.  In the meantime, I noticed you live in Florida which might mean that the area is more exposed to the sun. This explains the redness that still persists.  Make sure you use sun protection at all times over the exposed area of the scar.  The pain and soreness can persist but this should improve with more time.  Using these commercial topical scar care is the best option at this point and being patient letting the scar heal is your best bet.
Good luck
Dr Vasisht

Bhupesh Vasisht, MD
Voorhees Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Incisions 6 weeks post op

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I agree with my colleague that it is best to address this concern with your surgeon.  It is unusual at 6 weeks for incisions to be tender.  Before applying anything topical to the incision, make certain that your doctor believes the incision is healing normally.  Suture abscesses, spitting sutures, or cellulitis are all possible, given your description.  Once reassured, discuss with your surgeon their preferred method to aid scar maturation.  Best of luck!

George Bitar, MD
Fairfax Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

6 weeks out and arm scars are sore and red. Should I use paper tape or silicone sheets?

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Without posting a photo very hard to advise! Best to see & ask your chosen surgeon....>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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