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All breast augmentation techniques will leave a permanent scar behind, which is meant to be as inconspicuous as possible after healing. Though uncommon, extensive scarring is a possible complication of breast augmentation.

Scarring is the result of the body's attempt to heal the site of a cut, burn, or other wound. When the body heals from injury it produces an overabundance of collagen, which forms a scar. This production of collagen is kept in check by an enzyme aptly named collagenase that melts collagen away. During the initial healing process the interaction of these substances determine the nature and extent of scarring.

Types of Scarring

There are two kinds of scarring that make a scar look more severe and counter the aesthetic appearance of the breast implants.

  • Keloid scars are red and raised and typically extend beyond the area of the original incision. These are the result of too much collagen production during the healing process. Keloid scars tend to be more common in people with darker skin tones.
  • Hypertrophic scars are those that grow too thick, though they are limited to the confines of the wound area.
Reducing the Risk of Scarring

There are four possible incision locations where scarring will take place after breast augmentation.

There are many ways that a breast augmentation patient can reduce the risk of excessive scarring in the surgical area. To prevent unwanted scarring, it is crucial to follow all postsurgical care instructions provided by your cosmetic surgeon. Leaving the surgery tape over the wounds for many weeks can reduce excess scarring because the tape reduces tension around the incision that otherwise might cause it to reopen. Your surgeon may recommend additional treatments after surgery to mitigate the risk of heavy scarring.

Causes of Excessive Scarring

In some cases, excessive scarring is the result of genetics, specific medical conditions, and overall health. These factors are difficult to prevent, but can be identified prior to surgery. Smoking before and after breast augmentation, as with virtually every surgical procedure, reduces the body's ability to heal properly and quickly, so patients who smoke are encouraged to quit smoking before the procedure at least until the wound has fully healed.

After any surgery, it is very important to apply a strong sunscreen to scars to diminish the risk of scarring and further damage to the skin. Because the scars from breast augmentation are well hidden and are not often exposed to the sun, this precaution is not as crucial as with other surgeries, but it is still very important to keep in mind.

Treating Scarring

When severe scarring does occur after breast augmentation there are medical interventions that can reduce or diminish the appearance of the scars. There are specific injectable treatments that may help reduce scarring. Laser treatments may also be effective. In some cases, excision of the scars may be the best option. This removes the actual scar tissue and allows the skin another chance to heal properly.