Scar management

Taping (Micropore™)

Advice on caring for your scars after breast reconstruction surgery varies between units. Some units may advise you to wear tan coloured Micropore™ tape for at least 6 weeks after surgery. Whilst wearing this tape, you do not need to worry about massaging the scars. The pressure of the tape will stabilise the scar, reducing the risk of friction and tension. The tape is designed to be left in place throughout your showers, you can pat it dry with a clean dry towel/kitchen paper, or use a hairdryer on a cool setting (test on the inside of your arm first) to dry the tape and keep it in place. It will need to be renewed every 7-14 days, when it starts to lift of its own accord. It should not be removed daily as this will damage your skin and cause trauma. After 6 weeks, your surgeon may then recommend you start moisturising and massaging the scars. However, some units may recommend continuing to wear the tape until you have pale, flat scars.

Scar Massage

If your unit does not recommend wearing Micropore™ tape, then you can moisturise and massage your scars. Usually you can start this as soon as the wounds have healed (approximately 2 weeks). It is recommended that you use a non-perfumed moisturising cream (e.g. E45). Massage will help soften the scar, prevent skin breakdown, improve appearance and stop it sticking to the underlying structures.

Massage should be done in circular movements over the scars and in movements straight across the scar (see diagram). You should being massaging gently, but eventually you want to build up to applying enough pressure to blanch the skin (make it lighter). You should carry out scar massage 2 – 4 times a day, for 5-10 minutes each time until the scars are soft, pale and flat. Scars are sensitive and will burn easily; total sunblock (factor 50+) should be used for at least 2 years. Scars take approximately 18-24 months to fully mature (become pale and inactive).

Your breast and any donor site scars may remain pink and change colour with different temperatures. This is normal and will gradually fade over time. How your scar heals can be determined by many different factors, such as; infection, past history of radiotherapy, along with your genetic tendency to scar.

If your scar starts to become firm, red, raised and itchy; this may be the start of hypertrophic scarring. If you have concerns about your scars, please contact your breast nurse/surgeon for advice. Sometimes steroid injection or wearing silicone gel/strips/tape may be recommended to try to improve hypertrophic scarring.

p16

Patient stories

Hear the experiences of our amazing patients who have had breast reconstruction surgery.