Tips for Healing Surgery Scars Quickly
- Jennifer Newsom, wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, had a second surgery to remove skin cancer from her face.
- Newsom said she had carcinoma, which refers to either basal or squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common types of skin cancer.
- The large scar down the side of her top lip appeared to be healing well with only slight discoloration still visible. Though it was unclear if she was wearing make up in the video, which would mask the true appearance of the scar.
- Newsom underwent Mohs surgery, in which the thin layers of skin cancer tissue are removed until the surgeon reaches clear tissue.
- Dermatologists recommend protecting surgery scars from direct sunlight, massaging the scar and keeping the scar moist to help them heal.
A week after Jennifer Newsom, the wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, revealed a fresh scar from skin cancer removal surgery, she posted a new video to Instagram and showed how the scar is healing while offering some sage advice for other moms.
View this post on InstagramRead MoreNewsom, 48, said she had carcinoma, which refers to either basal or squamous cell carcinoma, the two most common types of skin cancer. Her new video shows her on a brisk walk alone after having dinner with her family. The large scar down the side of her top lip appearered to be healing well with only slight discoloration still visible — though it’s unclear if she was wearing make up in the video that masked the true appearance of the scar.
Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S., and there are a few forms of skin cancer that people can develop. Melanoma is the most dangerous type of skin cancer.
“If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of others,” Newsom said in a message to moms on her Instagram. She also revealed she’s felt “exhausted and burned out” in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and reminded other moms to keep their own mental and physical health a priority.
More on Skin Cancer
- Young Woman Shares Shocking Video of Swollen Face From Sun Poisoning: What to Know About the Critical Link Between Sun Exposure and Skin Cancer
- TV Broadcaster Terry Bradshaw, 74, Walks Daughter Down the Aisle After Two Bouts With Cancer – What to Know About Bladder and Merkel Cell Carcinoma Skin Cancer
- WWE Star Alexa Bliss, 31, Has Skin Cancer Removed From Face, Blames Tanning Beds – What to Know About the Dangerous Link
Newsom’s Mohs Surgery
Newsom shared she underwent Mohs surgery to remove her carcinoma.
During Mohs surgery, the thin layers of skin cancer tissue are removed until the surgeon reaches clear tissue. The idea is that by making the tiniest cuts and evaluating them microscopically, the surgeon knows for certain that all the cancer is out when the last piece of tissue proves to be clear. It is often done as an outpatient procedure with local anesthetic.
WATCH: What is Mohs Surgery?
“The Mohs surgeon will take a conservative cut circumferentially around the cancer where we’re able to preserve healthy tissue,” Dr. Sumaira Aasi, Director of Mohs and Dermatologic Surgery at Stanford told SurvivorNet.
“We’re able to process the tissue and look at the cancerous tissue and know where there are still tumor cells persisting. Because as the Mohs surgeon removes the cancer, it’s mapped out, and we can go back specifically to the areas where we see cancer cells and take, again, another conservative margin or amount of tissue,” Aasi continued.
How to Take Care of Scars at Home
It’s common for surgery scars to be red, swollen or feel numb a few weeks after surgery, but over time as the skin heals, it eventually softens, becomes smoother and discoloration disappears. According to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, you may want to talk to your dermatologist first, as they can help you understand your unique skin and circumstances. As for things you can do to take care of your scar at home, here are some tips:
- Protect your scar from direct sunlight. Applying sunscreen that’s SPF 30 or higher if you’re going to be in the sun is recommended to help protect the scarring from the sun. Also wearing clothes that covers the scar to avoid direct sun exposure is another thing cancer warriors with surgery scars can do, because otherwise direct sun exposure can actually slow down the healing.
- Massaging your scar. Gently rubbing your scare for 1 to 2 minutes, one to three times per day can help soften your scar.
- Silicone products. Silicone products like silicon sheets and gels helps keep your scar moisturized, which helps the healing process. You can cut the silicone sheet to the size of your scar and leave it on for a few hours or even overnight.
- Special make up. Some people may feel self concious about their scar. And that’s completely normal. Camouflage make up can help cover your scar and match it to your natural skin tone. If your scar is particularly red, green-tinted make up can counteract the redness before applying your regular shade. However, it is important that you ask your doctor when it is safe to start using make up products on you scar.
Medical treatments are also options to help surgery scars look and feel better after enough time has passed for the scar to heal on its own. The treatments include: steroid injections, laser treatments, surgery and dermabrasion, a procedure in which doctors remove the top skin layers.
In the immediate hours and days after having surgery, the Dermatology Institute for Skin Cancer and Cosmetic Surgery also recommends avoiding heavy lifting and keeping pressure on the surgery scar to avoid bleeding. Keeping the scar clean using mild soap and avoiding harsher products that contain hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, or iodine are also recommended. You may consider applying necessary antibiotic creams or ointments to the scar and avoiding picking at it while it heals.
“When the body needs to close a wound, white blood cells are drawn to the site to attack infection-causing bacteria, while red blood cells, fibrin, and platelets work to close the wound, thus forming a crust,” the Dermatology Institute says.
“You should not pick or scratch crusting areas at your incision site… Every time you rip open a scab, you are ripping off the epidermis and dermis — the top two levels of the skin — which will increase the likelihood of scarring,” the Dermatology Institute added.
Here are some other tips for helping scarring, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.
- Keep your cut, scrap or other skin injury clean.
- Petroleum jelly helps prevent the wound from drying out and forming a scab, as scabs take longer to heal. Petroleum jelly also helps the scar from getting too large, deep or itchy.
- Keep your cut, scrape or skin injury covered (such as with those silicone gel sheets).
- Change your bandage daily and keep wound clean.
- Follow doctor’s advice for stitches for proper wound care.
These tips are helpful for at-home care while your surgery scars and wounds heal, but if you find the skin injury is deep, painful or becomes infected, see your doctor immediately.
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