If you’ve ever had major surgery, you know that it often means getting used to a new scar or two. And while there’s nothing wrong with having scars (many people find them sexy!), it’s important to show your skin some love and take care of it so it heals well. Whether your goal is to help your scars fade, or just keep them clean and moisturized, we’ve found some of the best at-home scar care products with doctor-recommended ingredients that really work.
Keep in mind that many skincare products are not designed for post-operative care. During the first month or two after your surgery, follow your doctor’s guidelines for taking care of your scars. Contact your physician if you need guidance on cleaning your scars or protecting them from water (soaking a wound too quickly after surgery can cause it to soften and open again). And if you want to try a new product on your scar, check in with your doctor first.
Scar Care Ingredient #1: Sunscreen
As you may already know, it’s extremely important to protect scars from sunlight for the first few weeks after surgery. Sunlight can extend healing time and cause hyperpigmentation (darkening of the scar). However, it’s also important to continue to protect your scar from sunlight well after surgery to prevent UV damage.
With this in mind, always protect your scar with sunscreen if you plan to spend time outside. We recommend choosing a fragrance-free sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to give you the best protection without causing irritation. Paula’s Choice, for instance, offers an Extra Care Non-Greasy Sunscreen with an SPF of 50 (Buy from Paula’s Choice, $22). For an option that does double duty — protecting your scar from the sun while smoothing and softening the skin — try the Derma E Scar Cream Sun Protectant SPF 35 (Buy from Ulta, $20.95), or check out Mederma Scar Cream + SPF 30 (Buy from Walmart, $16.47).
Scar Care Ingredient #2: Silicone
While many skin products promise to promote healing, nothing works quite as well on scars as silicone. Research from Advances in Wound Care points out that silicone gel treatments have been used on scars for over 30 years. Why do these treatments work so well? Scientists believe that silicone locks in the right amount of moisture and mimics a healthy stratum corneum — the outermost layer of the epidermis.
In medical settings, doctors tend to use silicone gel sheets to completely cover an area of skin. If your doctor is okay with you covering up your scar (depending on the circumstance, some scars need fresh air), you can purchase your own silicone scar sheets. We recommend Aroamas Professional Silicone Scar Sheets (Buy from Walmart, $17.77) or Mepiform with Safetac Soft Silicone Sheeting for large scars (Buy from Amazon, $77.97).
If you don’t want to completely cover your scar, try the Estas Silicone and Vitamin E Scar Mask (Buy from Estas, $65) or the Estas Daily Dose Vitamin E & C Scar Cream Serum (Buy from Estas, $65). While pricey, a little goes a long way for both products (and customers rave about this skincare). For a budget-friendly option, try Cimesiol Scar and Laser Gel, which uses medical-grade silicone (Buy from Amazon, $26).
Scar Care Ingredient #3: Aloe Vera
If you have redness or irritation, aloe vera is the way to go. A 2016 study from Annals of Plastic Surgery found that aloe vera hastens wound healing, decreases scar tissue size, and improves skin elasticity. Additional research from the Iranian Journal of Medical Sciences showed that aloe vera is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. It also helps the skin retain moisture.
If you’re looking to buy an aloe vera product, we recommend fragrance-free, noncomedogenic (doesn’t clog pores) products. NaturSense sells a cold-pressed, organic Aloe Vera Gel (Buy from Amazon, $16.89). Or consider the Aloderma Pure Aloe Vera Gel (Buy from Amazon, $9.99).
The right balance of ingredients — sun protectants, healing moisturizers, and anti-inflammatory treatments — should help your scar heal beautifully. Whether your scars fade with time or not, remember that your imperfections only make you more beautiful!
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