Boob Job Scars After Breast Augmentation: A Comprehensive Guide
Boob jobs can help you achieve desired cosmetic enhancements and feel more confident. However, they also come with the risk of scarring.
If you’ve had breast augmentation, but are experiencing the signs of scarring, then this article can help. We discuss the various scar types, where you are most likely to find them, and how to minimise them after surgery. We also explore how long it takes for breast augmentation scars to fade, what happens during the healing process, and various treatments available if you already have visible scarring.
Post-surgical scars can cause distress, but you can fade them with the right treatments and approaches.
According to Medical News Daily, “The scars typically fade over time, but some people use moisturisers, silicon gel, laser treatment, and other strategies to help them fade.”
The Different Types of Breast Augmentation Scars
Clinicians perform surgery on breasts in several ways, each of which can lead to a specific scar type.
Anchor Scar: What Is It and When Is It Used?
Anchor scars are named after their shape, which resembles an inverted “T.” Surgeons make these from three incisions: one around the areola, one from the areola to the breast crease, and one along the breast crease.
This technique lets surgeons remove excess skin from the lateral parts of the breast and shape and lift it. Swimsuits and underwear usually hide scars but remain visible when the breast is bare.
The appearance of anchor scars differs between patients. For some, they remain prominent, while others experience significant fading.
Lollipop Scar: The Vertical Approach
Breast surgeons may also use the vertical approach, leading to lollipop scars. Again, the name comes from its shape, which resembles a lollipop with a vertical line extending from the areola to the breast crease.
Surgeons developed lollipop incisions to reduce the visibility of scarring and eliminate the need for an open flap of skin to place breast implants. The vertical approach can lead to shorter recovery times and better breast shapes, with reduced risk of complications. However, it is not suitable for everyone, including those with saggy or heavy breasts.
Donut Scar: A Periareolar Incision Technique
Donut scarring results from the advanced periareolar incision technique. Here, surgeons cut around the edges of the areola and remove a ring of skin. Then, they place the implant inside before pulling together any remaining skin and stitching back around the areola, resulting in a donut-shaped scar.
Many women with breast implants prefer this technique because it leaves minimal scarring and shortens surgery time. However, some risks remain, including an increased chance of the breasts losing shape or looking distorted.
Keloid Scarring: A Potential Complication
Keloid scarring is a complication of breast augmentation surgery where the skin forms thick, raised scars. These are often larger than the original wound and may grow for months or years. If left untreated, keloid scarring can cause discomfort and lead to joint mobility issues.
Unfortunately, there is no definitive way to prevent or cure keloid scarring, but some treatments can help reduce its appearance and symptoms. For instance, today’s surgeons may recommend laser therapy, cryotherapy or steroid injections, depending on the presentation.
Breast Augmentation Incision Types and Scar Locations
Breast augmentation patients can choose between various incision types and scar locations depending on their treatment goals. Surgeons may recommend a specific approach or give you a choice of two or more.
This section explains each incision type in detail, enabling you to make an informed decision.
Inframammary Fold Incision: The Most Common Technique
Inframammary fold incision is the most common technique. Here, surgeons make incisions along the creases under your breasts where they meet the chest wall. Then, they insert the implants through these incisions before stitching you back up.
This technique is popular because it allows surgeons to place implants precisely. With a larger opening, surgeons can position and reposition implants before completing the operation. It also makes future revisions easier, with scarring hidden below the breast fold.
However, scarring can be noticeable, depending on the skin’s tightness and the implant’s size. It is also more visible if you have thin skin in the chest area.
Periareolar Incision: A Discreet Approach
As discussed above, a periareolar incision is a discreet approach involving an incision in the lower edge of the areola, the dark area surrounding the nipple. Surgeons place the implant through the small opening into the breast capsule. The technique reduces scarring, blends with the surrounding areola colour and can preserve sensation in the nipple.
However, it isn’t suitable for every patient. For instance, surgeons may recommend against it if you have particularly large or small areolas/nipples or a history of breast cancer. The technique may also increase the risk of capsular contracture – forming fibrous scar tissue around the implant that can cause discomfort and breast distortion.
Transaxillary Incision: A Less Visible Option
Transaxillary incisions are a less visible option that involves making an incision at the armpit, where the chest muscles meet the shoulder joint. Surgeons insert an endoscope through a small incision to position the implant correctly in the breast tissue.
This procedure is popular because it avoids scars on the breast and preserves full nipple sensation. (The technique does not require incisions on or near the nipples). However, it requires significant surgical skills and experience to perform adequately. Plus, you may need to limit breast implant size since it may be difficult to transport them to the target site.
Minimising Scarring After Breast Augmentation Surgery
Scarring is a significant risk after breast augmentation surgery. However, there are ways you can reduce it. Here are some things you can try.
Choosing the Right Plastic Surgeon
First, you’ll want to start by choosing the right plastic surgeon. Plastic surgery can have a lasting effect on your body, meaning picking the right professional is essential.
Start by looking at their credentials. In the UK, cosmetic surgeons should have certifications and be supported by the General Medical Council. Professionals usually display their credentials on their websites, but you can check them independently by contacting the relevant body.
Next, take a look at their portfolio. Ask to see before-and-after photos of their previous patients who had similar procedures to yours. This tactic helps you see their style and whether you like their aesthetic approaches. You’ll also get a sense of their skill when comparing them against other surgeons.
Lastly, you’ll want to schedule a consultation. Meet the plastic surgeon personally and discuss your goals, expectations, and concerns. Then, ask them more about the techniques they prefer to use and why. You should feel comfortable with your surgeon and have a decent rapport.
Pre-Surgery Preparation: Reducing Scarring Risk
You can also reduce scarring by preparing before going into the operating theatre. The first step is to consult your surgeon about the best incision technique and placement for your breast surgery or boob job. They will inform you about the costs and benefits of each procedure regarding recovery time, scarring, and results. (For instance, you may want to accept a high risk of scarring in exchange for a technique that lets you make your breasts significantly larger).
You should also follow your surgeon’s advice for caring for your skin before surgery begins. Things like avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol, taking certain medications, and only using hypoallergenic products on your skin can all help. Before the operation, the skin should be clean and moisturised, and you should use SPF to protect it from sun exposure if you go outside bare-chested.
Post-Surgery Scar Care: Tips for a Smooth Recovery
Once your surgeon completes surgery, they will provide instructions, telling you how to optimise recovery. Ensure you follow their advice to the letter.
After surgery, you will need to keep your incisions clean and dry. Don’t pick them, as this can worsen scarring.
You’ll also need to wear a supportive surgical bra or compression garment – whatever your surgeon recommends. These garments help to keep the breast in an advantageous position for healing, reducing swelling, bleeding, and fluid discharge through the incisions.
Depending on your procedure, your doctor may also recommend applying cold compresses to the breast area for 10 to 15 minutes daily. This approach helps to reduce pain, inflammation and bruising at the target site.
Don’t smoke or drink alcohol during your recovery; these activities can inhibit healing by restricting blood flow.
Also, avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs during recovery. Your surgeon should provide safe painkillers if you experience discomfort during the first one to two weeks following surgery.
Other advice to reduce scarring and promote a smooth recovery includes:-
- Sleeping upright at night or with several pillows underneath your upper body
- Drinking plenty of water and eating a nutritious, healthy diet rich in healing antioxidants and phytochemicals
- Massaging your scars from a week after your surgery onwards
- Using silicone-based topical products to reduce scarring, as directed by your surgeon, to fight redness and itchiness
- Avoiding sun exposure and tanning beds for several months following surgery
How Long Does It Take for Breast Augmentation Scars to Heal and Fade?
Breast augmentation scars usually heal over 24 months. At first, they can appear highly visible but fade slowly over time.
The Healing Process: What to Expect
Immediately after surgery, surgeons will suture your skin together and apply various bandages to control bleeding and prevent infection. The skin will heal over the following two weeks, fusing over previous cuts. The first signs of scarring will appear at the end of this period.
Eventually, the scabs on your wound will fall off, and scars will enter their “maturation” phase. During this time, they will change colour from red to soft and pale, which can take up to two years. Eventually, the scars should look similar to, or the same as, the rest of the breast tissue.
Remember, scars are a trade-off patients make for a better breast shape. You may prefer the look of your new breasts, even if there are some scars to show for it. With proper care and treatment, scarring fades substantially over time.
Factors Affecting Scar Fading Time
The breast augmentation healing process depends on various factors, including skin type, genetics, wound care, and how well you prevent infection. You should start noticing scars forming around two weeks after surgery once the tissue begins to heal.
Tips to Help Your Boob Job Scars Fade Faster
You can help boob job scars fade faster with these tips:-
- Follow your surgeon’s post-operative advice. They will provide clear instructions on how to care for your scars for optimal results.
- Regularly apply approved silicone gel or cream. These topical products can improve the speed at which scars heal while reducing redness and itchiness.
- Massage your scars gently, according to your surgeon’s instructions. Physical manipulation helps break down fibrous tissue in the skin, leading to more aesthetically pleasing outcomes.
- Protect your scars from the sun and tanning. UV can darken and damage the skin during healing, leaving scars more visible.
- Be patient. Scars can take several months to years to fade, and they may become more comfortable over time.
Breast Augmentation Scar Treatment Options
We’ve already alluded to various scar treatment options above; this section describes them in more detail.
Topical Treatments for Breast Implant Scars
Surgeons may provide various treatments for breast implant scars based on their clinical assessment. The most common is silicone gel. This medication creates a protective barrier over the skin, keeping it hydrated and enhancing collagen production.
You can apply silicone gel once the wound closes and your surgeon removes the stitches. The medication must contact the skin for at least 12 hours daily over several months.
Surgeons may also recommend topical vitamin E oil. This substance is a natural antioxidant, helping the skin repair damage while maintaining elasticity.
Onion extract gel is another option you sometimes see. Surgeons may recommend this to inhibit redness, swelling, itching and scar formation.
Silicone Gel Sheets and Strips
You can also get silicone gel sheets and strips. These products offer a different method for applying silicone gel and are made of medical-grade silicone that mimics the skin’s natural moisture barrier and stimulates collagen production.
You can apply silicone gel directly to incision sites, such as the nipples or the area under the breast. Again, you should wear them for 12 hours per day minimum for three months. Most are washable and reusable, helping to keep costs down.
Steroid Injections for Raised Scars
Steroid injections are another option for raised scars. These drugs reduce the inflammatory response in the target area, helping scar tissue appear softer and flatter over time.
You may require repeated steroid injections to get the desired effect. You may also experience some skin-thinning or discolouration in the affected region. Always critical to consult with your surgeon before opting for this treatment.
Laser Therapy: Targeting Scar Tissue
Lastly, laser therapy. These procedures use laser light to break down fibrous scar tissue and encourage the skin to grow back more seamlessly.
Can You Have a Boob Job Without Scars?
You cannot have a conventional breast augmentation without scars. Some people use techniques to make the breasts appear bigger by using make-up or working on certain exercises to improve posture for example. You can discover other ideas in this article. Other minimally-invasive techniques may help you get the breast shape you want without the usual incisions.
Fat Transfer Breast Augmentation: A Less Invasive Option
For instance, fat-transfer breast augmentation is a significantly less invasive option. This approach enhances your breast’s size and shape without opening flaps of skin.
Surgeons first perform liposuction on another part of your body to extract existing fat deposits, such as your abdomen, hips, thighs or arms. Then, they purify and inject the fat into your breasts using small incisions.
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (1), “Fat transfer breast augmentation essentially uses liposuction to take fat from other parts of your body and inject it into your breasts. This is a breast augmentation option for women who are looking for a relatively small increase in breast size and would prefer natural results.”
This treatment is popular because it is less invasive than conventional surgery and produces natural-looking results. It also reduces the risk of complications, such as capsular contracture, since it does not require the insertion of breast implants.
Limitations of Scar-Free Breast Enhancement Techniques
However, fat-transfer breast augmentation also has some limitations and risks. For instance, it usually only results in a modest increase in breast size; therefore, you may not get the desired aesthetic results with small breasts.
Moreover, you may need to return to your surgeon several times for additional treatments. The body may reabsorb fat over time, reducing breast volume.
Lastly, there is a slight risk that post-treatment pain and swelling will continue for several weeks. Therefore, you should always discuss the benefits and risks of this procedure with your surgeon beforehand.