As a surgeon, one of the most common questions I get asked is, “how long does it take for a cut to heal?” This question is even more of a concern to many of my patients as their incisions are often on or near the face and other commonly exposed areas. They want their incision to heal as quickly as possible with minimal scarring. The answer to this question often involves several factors. And there are ways that surgeons can minimize the visibility of an incision. Finally, there are things that patients can do to reduce the likelihood that their incision will develop into a visible scar.
- How can you heal a cut faster?
- Is my cut infected or just healing?
Stages of incision healing
There are several steps the body goes through after an incision is made and then left to heal. After everything is aligned back together and stitched or stapled (or whatever the case may be), the first step is clotting. The body sends platelets over to help aid in the clotting process. This step is important to ensure the wound doesn’t bleed out. Scabs may form, and inflammation is often present as well. You may experience some irritation and redness. White blood cells get to work tackling any pathogens that have entered by way of the incision. In the following stages, new tissue begins to form. Collagen is a significant part of this process. Sometimes, excess collagen is produced, and the resulting raised scar is called a keloid scar. However, many scars do start slightly raised, after which they will flatten with time. Finally, your skin continues to strengthen, tighten, and heal. Scars will often begin to lighten and flatten until they are flush with the skin (some scars will stay raised, while others will look like a depression in the skin).
How long does it take for an incision to heal?
how long does it take for a cut to heal? Several factors come into play when it comes to how long it takes for an incision to heal and forming and visibility. Genetics plays a role. If your parents and siblings have had any scarring of a particular type, you may be likely to scar in the same way. Also important is how the incision area is cared for. Dressings may need to be changed either at your doctor’s office or at home. This is important for keeping the surgical site clean and free of infection. Avoid strenuous activity in the days or weeks after surgery, depending on your doctor’s orders. Even certain medications can play a role when it comes to incisions healing more or less quickly than average.
How to prevent or reduce scarring
After a very deep cut, as is involved in surgery, scarring is very common, and in most cases, some scarring is to be expected. In situations where it’s possible you may scar, there are things you can do to help at least minimize the appearance and texture of the scar. Silicone has amazing properties that allow it to help with scar healing. You can opt for silicone gel or silicone patches that get placed directly on the incision area. At the very least, keep the wound damp with a thin layer of petroleum jelly and a bandage for quicker healing. Keeping the site clean is also very important, as infections can cause more visible scarring.
It’s also imperative to follow all aftercare instructions given to you by your surgeon.
Ways to hide scars
For bigger incisions, some scarring is to be expected. For this reason, while making incisions during surgery, doctors will place them in the most hidden area possible. For example, for many forehead lifts, the incision is made at or behind the hairline. In facelifts, the incisions are often made behind the ears.
So when it comes to how long it takes for an incision to heal, remember that it’s a combination of what procedure you’ve had, as well as how well you follow aftercare instructions.
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