Taking Care of Your Scar
While ovarian cancer treatment can look different for every survivor, many patients undergo some sort of surgery. In my case, I had emergency surgery to remove my right ovary and fallopian tube. This surgery is known as a unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy.
Because my tumor was 21 centimeters, my surgeons had to make a large incision to ensure the tumor did not break during removal.
Caring for your scar post-surgery
My scar is 8 inches long and lays vertically along my abdomen, and curves at the end around my belly button. Before surgery, I mourned the loss of my untouched stomach. I knew it would look different, and that felt scary. However, I have grown to love my scar and to care for it properly over time.
Everyone heals differently
Before I get into the nitty-gritty details of how to care for your scar, it is important to mention that not all scars will heal the same.
Depending on many different factors, some folks heal quickly with little scarring, while others will take more time. In my case, I am currently 2 years and 1 month post-operation and still have a visible scar.
Over time, it looks less uniform because parts have healed well while other areas are raised and discolored.
By focusing on my self-confidence first, I have been able to grow comfortable in my skin despite how my scar looks. Practice giving yourself grace during this time of healing.
In the beginning – leave it alone!
I cannot stress this enough – leave your scar alone!
During the first couple of months after my surgery, I became obsessed with observing my scar. The more I focused on it, the more I felt compelled to pull at my skin, pick at the scabs, and try to hurry along the healing process.
In the long run, it has done more damage to my scar. I experienced a couple of infections in my scar and spots that would hold bacteria like pimples one would get on their face.
Just don't touch it and let it be.
Keep your scar clean
When the scar is fresh, it is important to keep the wound clean. Gently clean it with soap and water without aggressively rubbing it.
It's also important to make sure your hands are clean before you touch your scar in any way to prevent the spread of bacteria in the open wound.
Wear loose clothing
Since the skin around your scar is healing, it is important not to irritate the wound.
Wearing loose clothing gives your scar room to breathe, minimizes irritation on the scar, and prevents infection. Also, it's much more comfortable. I lived in sweatpants for months!
Just like all of your skin - protect it from sun damage
Because scar tissue is more sensitive, it is necessary to protect it. Especially during the first year of your healing, cover up your scar when spending time in the sun.
I also recommend using a strong SPF and reapplying very often when outside. I use the Derma-E Scar Cream Sun Protectant SPF 35, but any SPF of 30 or higher should do the trick.
Keep your scar moisturized
Again, we want to protect our scars so that the healing process goes smoothly. Many people may want to apply products to minimize the appearance of their scars. There are plenty of great products out there, but the key is to find products that claim to minimize the appearance of your scar and keep the skin moisturized.
Some of my top choices would be the Bio-Oil Skincare Oil or the Derma-E Scar Gel. You can get both products at your local drug store, Target, Walmart, or Ulta Beauty.
It is also important to stay consistent with these topical creams, gels, or oils. Regularly applying the products as recommended can help speed up the healing process.
What scar care tips would you recommend?
I encourage you to leave any recommendations that you may have below for healing scars, no matter what stage the scar may be in! After all, everyone's scar is different and may need other tips and tricks.
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