Embracing the Scar: Overcoming Post-Surgical Fibrosis
Post-surgical fibrosis is a common problem after any type of surgery. Different factors may cause it. The most common one is the overproduction of connective tissue (collagen) or due to the necrosis of a fatty area, etc. In this blog, I’ll tell you what fibrosis (after any type of surgery) is, its causes, and the most known treatment options.
What is post-surgical fibrosis?
Post-surgical fibrosis or post-surgical scarring refers to the production of fibrous tissues at the site of a surgical incision or surgical area. In other words, after your skin or any tissue is cut or damaged, the way it repairs is by creating fibers (usually made of collagen). The main purpose is to reconnect the damaged tissue.
However, what we usually know as Post-surgical fibrosis is the overproduction of fibrous tissue, generating abnormal tissue formation while healing. In addition, fibrosis swells the surrounding tissues and causes hardening of the area. It can also present as a bruise or painful lumps.
What causes post-surgical fibrosis?
Several factors might cause post-surgical scaring, some of them are:
- Collagen buildup. Overproduction of collagen (and fat necrosis in some patients), will contribute to the formation of fibrous areas.
- Location. Some body areas are more prone to developing excessive scar tissue, for example: your chest or joints.
- Genes. Genetic factors and the unique healing response of each person can influence the degree of scarring.
- Infection. It can increase scar tissue formation.
- Poor wound care. Inadequate wound care or hygiene can increase the risk of complications and fibrosis.
- Smoking. wound healing and the subsequent scar formation require an accurate balance of inflammation. Smoking is known to result in more wound related postoperative complications, probably by disturbing the normal inflammatory physiology. In other words, smoking may lead to fibrosis, that is why your surgeon asks you to stop smoking at least 1 month before the procedure and during the recovery process.
- Poor nutrition. Lack of vitamins, proteins and nutrients may lead to fibrosis. It also can delay healing and impair wound strength.
- Venous insufficiency. Bad blood flow leads to lack of nutrients and oxygen to the healing tissues. This causes cells to die, damaging the tissue, and fibrosis or a new wound can form.
- Skin quality. According to your skin type (how it heals and genes), you may have less or more possibilities to have fibrosis.
What are the treatments available for post-op-fibrosis?
Treatment options for post-surgical fibrosis may include techniques, such as:
- Massage: Manual Lymphatic Drainage, helps to break down hard lumps, reduce excess fluids, improving the appearance of the area and reduce pain.
- Proper scar management techniques: to break down adhesions.
- Proper compression garment and padding: prevents the excessive formation of connective tissue.
- Use of ultrasound: to reduce inflammation speeding healing process and reducing fibrosis .
- Silicone sheeting: it works through occlusion of the scar site and hydration of the wound bed, the overactivity of scar-related cells is suppressed, and their activity normalized.
- Corticosteroid injections: to reduce the size of the scar.
- Laser therapy: it helps to repair and remodel tissues
- In the case of fibrosis one approach isn’t enough, you may need to combine two or more options to see results, remember each person heals differently.
- Severe cases may need another surgery to correct the scar caused by the fibrosis.
A final Word
It’s key to follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions to minimize the risk fibrosis, and to consult your therapist in order to get the best post-op treatment, one that is tailored according to your needs.
After any type of surgery, the resulting scar tissue can vary in appearance and texture, ranging from fine and inconspicuous to thick, raised, and discolored. In some cases, this excessive fibrosis can lead to functional limitations, such as reduced range of motion or stiffness of the affected area. For that reason, it is so important to book your post-op treatment even before your surgery date, so you can start as son as your surgeon allows you to.
We hope this information is useful for you. If you need advice or have any questions about our treatments, please contact us. You can find us in Mill Hill Broadway and Islington. We are always happy to help. If you like this blog, please share!