With some high temperature, high sun weather in our near future, we are all eager to soak up the warm sunshine and increase our vitamin D. Likely, quite a few of us have recently opted to undergo elective surgical procedures to improve our mobility and function for the coming season. But did you know that even after the mobility and strength return your scar is still healing?
Wound healing can be broken into three distinct categories. The inflammatory stage lasts for a couple of days following injury/surgery. The proliferative stage comprises the next 6 weeks and is the stage where the wound is trying to form scar. After this stage, the scar moves into the maturation and remodeling stage which can last up to 1-2 years. A new scar is any scar that is still pink while a mature scar is any scar that is the same color as your skin or slightly lighter in color.
Scar tissue is sensitive and more susceptible to damage from harmful UVA and UVB rays. Overexposure can cause changes to pigmentation in the skin either darkening or lightening the scar. In addition, there can be raising, blistering, or thickening of the scar.
Due to the long maturation phase of scar, it is important to protect the scar for several months following injury or surgery. Avoid sun exposure during the peak hours of 10:00am to 2:00pm. The best way to keep a scar out of the sun is to cover it with clothing, some sort of tape or even an adhesive bandage, if it is small enough. Using a good sunscreen can also be a good option, but make sure to reapply often particularly after a water activity. In addition to sun protection, scar care can include manual or instrument assisted massage, use of silicone gel sheets, and compression garments.