Do Silicone Strips Reduce Cosmetic Surgery Scars?
Cosmetic surgery can bring about significant changes in one’s appearance. However, like any surgical procedure, it leaves behind scars. These scars, while a natural part of the healing process, can be a source of concern for many patients. When the skin is incised or damaged during a cosmetic surgery procedure, the body responds by forming a scar during the healing process. Scars are made up of fibrous tissue that replaces normal skin after an injury. They are a natural part of the body’s healing process, serving as a form of biological ‘patchwork’ to mend the damaged area. While scars are a natural outcome of surgery, they can sometimes be a source of concern for patients who have undergone cosmetic procedures. The visibility of scars can impact a person’s satisfaction with the results of their procedure. As such, many seek ways to reduce the appearance of these scars.
Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anca Breahna understands that surgical scars can impact a patient’s confidence and self-esteem, and she works tirelessly to minimise their appearance and help patients regain their confidence.
What Are Silicone Strips?
Silicone strips are a type of medical product commonly used in scar management. They are thin, flexible sheets made from silicone that can be applied directly to the skin. Silicone is a synthetic material known for its skin-friendly properties and is widely used in various medical and cosmetic products.
Silicone strips are designed to be worn over scars. They can be cut to size to fit the scar area and are usually self-adhesive, allowing them to stick to the skin without the need for additional tapes or bandages. They are typically clear or skin-toned, making them discreet to wear.
The use of silicone strips for scar management is not a new concept. They have been used in the medical field for several decades, with numerous studies supporting their effectiveness in reducing the appearance of scars.
How Silicone Strips Work to Reduce Scars?
Silicone strips work to reduce the appearance of scars through a combination of several mechanisms. The primary mechanism is through the creation of a moist healing environment. When applied to the skin, silicone strips form a barrier that helps to retain moisture. This is beneficial as a moist environment has been shown to promote the healing process and reduce the formation of excess scar tissue.
In addition to creating a moist healing environment, silicone strips also apply a slight pressure to the scar. This pressure can help to flatten and soften the scar, further reducing its visibility.
Silicone strips can help to regulate the production of collagen, a protein that plays a key role in the formation of scar tissue. By regulating collagen production, silicone strips can help to prevent the overproduction of collagen that can lead to raised, thick scars.
It’s important to note that while silicone strips can be effective in reducing the appearance of scars, they are not a quick fix. Consistent use over several weeks or months is required to see noticeable results.
Benefits of Using Silicone Strips for Scar Reduction
Silicone strips offer a range of benefits for individuals looking to reduce the appearance of their cosmetic surgery scars. Here are these benefits in more detail:
- Non-Invasive and Easy to Use: One of the primary benefits of silicone strips is their non-invasive nature. Unlike treatments such as laser therapy or surgical scar revision, using silicone strips does not involve any procedures or interventions. They are simply applied directly to the scar, making the treatment process straightforward and accessible. This ease of use also means that individuals can manage their scar treatment independently, without the need for regular medical appointments
- Safe for All Skin Types: Silicone is a hypoallergenic material, which means it is unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. This makes silicone strips a safe option for individuals with various skin types, including those with sensitive skin. Furthermore, because silicone is a soft and flexible material, silicone strips can comfortably conform to different body contours, ensuring a comfortable fit regardless of where the scar is located
- Discreet Treatment Option: Silicone strips are clear or skin-toned, which makes them a discreet option for scar treatment. They can be worn under clothing without being noticeable, allowing people to continue with their daily activities without interruption. This also means that silicone strips can provide continuous, around-the-clock treatment, which can enhance their effectiveness
- Supported by Research: Scientific studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of silicone strips in reducing the appearance of scars. These studies have shown that silicone strips can help to soften, flatten, and lighten scars, making them less noticeable. This body of research provides strong evidence to support the use of silicone strips as a reliable method for scar reduction
- Cost-Effective: Compared to other scar treatment options such as laser therapy or surgical revision, silicone strips are relatively affordable. This makes them a cost-effective solution for scar management, particularly for patients who may be managing multiple scars or large scar areas
- Promotes Hydration: Silicone strips create a barrier on the skin that helps to retain moisture. This promotes a hydrated healing environment, which is beneficial for scar reduction. Hydrated skin can heal more effectively and is less likely to develop thick, raised scars
How to Reduce Post-Surgical Scars Using Silicone Strips
Silicone strips can be a valuable tool in your post-surgical care routine to help minimise the appearance of scars. Here’s a detailed guide on how to use them effectively:
- Timing of Application: It’s important to start using silicone strips once the wound has fully healed and there are no signs of infection. This is usually a few weeks after surgery, but always consult with Anca to determine the appropriate timing
- Preparation: Before applying the silicone strip, ensure the scar area is clean and dry. This can be done by gently washing the area with mild soap and water and patting it dry. Avoid using any lotions or creams on the scar area as they can interfere with the adhesion of the strip
- Application: Cut the silicone strip to fit the size of the scar. Remove the backing and apply the adhesive side directly to the scar. The strip should fully cover the scar and extend a little beyond its edges
- Duration of Use: For best results, silicone strips should be worn for a minimum of 12 hours per day, although wearing them for 24 hours is often recommended. They can be removed for showering or bathing and then reapplied
- Maintenance: Silicone strips can be reused until they lose their adhesiveness. To maintain their stickiness, gently wash them with mild soap and water after each use, rinse thoroughly, and allow them to air dry
- Consistency: Consistent use of silicone strips is key to achieving the best results. It’s recommended to use them for at least two to three months, although some scars may require longer treatment
- Monitoring: Regularly monitor the scar and the surrounding skin for any changes or signs of irritation. If any adverse reactions occur, discontinue use and consult your plastic surgeon
- Complementary Treatments: While silicone strips can be effective on their own, they can also be used in conjunction with other scar reduction treatments
Comparing Silicone Strips with Other Methods of Scar Reduction
There are various methods available for scar reduction, each with its own set of advantages and considerations. Here, we compare silicone strips with other common methods:
- Advantages: Non-invasive, easy to use, safe for all skin types, discreet, cost-effective, and supported by scientific research
- Considerations: Requires consistent use over a period of weeks or months for best results
Topical Creams and Gels
- Advantages: Easy to apply, non-invasive, and can contain ingredients that promote healing and reduce inflammation
- Considerations: Results can vary greatly depending on the active ingredients and the individual’s skin response. Some may cause skin irritation or allergic reactions
- Advantages: Can be effective for reducing the appearance of scars, particularly raised or red scars
- Considerations: More expensive than other options, requires multiple sessions, and can cause temporary side effects like redness, swelling, or discomfort
Surgical Scar Revision
- Advantages: Can significantly reduce the size and visibility of scars, especially for large or prominent scars
- Considerations: Invasive procedure that carries risks such as infection or complications from anaesthesia. Also, it can be expensive and requires recovery time
- Advantages: Can help to flatten raised scars and reduce itching or discomfort
- Considerations: Can cause side effects such as skin thinning or colour changes, and requires multiple sessions
- Advantages: Can stimulate collagen production and improve the texture of scars
- Considerations: Can cause temporary redness or swelling, requires multiple sessions, and may not be suitable for all skin types
Considerations and Precautions When Using Silicone Strips
While silicone strips are generally safe and easy to use, there are a few considerations and precautions to keep in mind.
Before starting any new treatment, it’s always a good idea to consult with Anca. When using silicone strips, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. This involves applying the strip to clean, dry skin and leaving it on for a certain amount of time each day.
Potential side effects from using silicone strips are rare but can include skin irritation or rash. If you experience any adverse reactions, discontinue use and consult with your plastic surgeon.
Which Scar Types are Most Effectively Treated with Silicone Strips?
Silicone strips can be used to treat various types of scars resulting from surgery, injury, or skin conditions. Here, we explore which types of scars they are particularly effective for:
- Keloid Scars: These are raised scars that extend beyond the original wound area. They result from an overactive healing process where the body produces too much collagen. Silicone strips can help to flatten and soften keloid scars, making them less noticeable
- Hypertrophic Scars: Similar to keloid scars, hypertrophic scars are also raised but do not extend beyond the initial wound area. They are often red and may be itchy or painful. Silicone strips can help to reduce the size and improve the colour of hypertrophic scars
- Surgical Scars: These are scars that result from surgical incisions. Depending on the surgery and individual healing factors, these scars can vary in size and appearance. Silicone strips can be particularly effective for surgical scars as they can be cut to size to fit the scar area
- Atrophic Scars: These are indented scars that form when underlying structures supporting the skin, such as fat or muscle, are lost. They are common in conditions like acne or chickenpox. While silicone strips may not be able to fill the indentation, they can help to improve the texture and colour of atrophic scars
- Burn Scars: These are scars resulting from skin damage caused by burns. They can be raised or indented, and may cover large areas of skin. Silicone sheets can be beneficial in managing burn scars by improving their texture, colour, and flexibility
- C-section Scars: Scars from a caesarean section can be effectively managed with silicone strips. They can help to reduce redness, itching, and discomfort, and improve the overall appearance of the scar
FAQs about Silicone Strips
How soon after surgery can I start using silicone strips?
- Silicone strips should be used once the wound has fully healed and there are no signs of infection. This is a few weeks after surgery, but always consult with Anca to determine the appropriate timing.
How long do I need to wear silicone strips each day?
- For best results, silicone strips should be worn for a minimum of 12 hours per day, although wearing them for 24 hours is often recommended. They can be removed for showering or bathing and then reapplied.
How long does it take to see results from using silicone strips?
- Consistent use over a period of weeks or months is required to see noticeable results. The exact timeframe can vary based on individual factors such as the size and age of the scar.
Can silicone strips cause any side effects?
- Silicone strips are generally safe and well-tolerated. However, in rare cases, they can cause skin irritation or rash. If you experience any adverse reactions, discontinue use and consult your plastic surgeon.
Can I use silicone strips on old scars, or are they only effective on new scars?
- Silicone strips can be used on both new and old scars. However, they are most effective when used as soon as the wound has healed. For older scars, results may take longer and may be less dramatic, but improvement is still possible.
Further Reading about Procedures with Consultant Plastic Surgeon Anca Breahna
- Read Liposuction Surgery Procedure
- Read Tummy Tuck / Abdominoplasty Surgery Page
- Read more about Reduce Swelling and Bruising after Breast Reduction Surgery
- Read more about How to Reduce Scars after Breast Reduction Surgery
- Read more about Recovery After Breast Implant Removal
Medical References about Silicone Strips
- The Effectiveness of Silicone Gel in Treating Hypertrophic Scars and Keloids – NCBI
- How Can Home Remedies Get Rid of My Old Scar? – Medical News Today
- Scar Treatments: Types of Scars and Their Treatments – WebMD
- Treatment – Scars – NHS
- Scar Revision – Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons