You may not appreciate this if you’ve had surgery or an injury recently, but scar tissue truly is one of the body’s many marvels. It forms during the healing process and closes and protects the sites of injuries and surgical wounds. One healthcare company puts it like this, “the body works in wondrous ways to heal and replace devitalized tissue.”
For our New York gynecomastia patients, there’s a bit of irony involved with scar tissue. The collagen fibers primarily responsible for wound repair are tough, and they can collect in crosshatched or even lumpy ways around injury sites. This means that patients who seek our help in improving their appearance sometimes worry that scarring may mar the results they’re expecting.
Our “minimal scar gynecomastia surgery” technique helps reduce the evidence of surgery on the surface, but underneath the skin, it can be a different story for guys with man boobs. Worry about palpable lumps (and whether it’s gland coming back) is relatively common. It doesn’t help to understand that scar formation is at least somewhat unpredictable. But it may help to know how the process progresses, and what you can do.
Medical professionals like those at Johns Hopkins generally divide the wound healing process into four phases. The first is called “hemostasis,” or stopping the bleeding. This phase, involving blood clotting and the formation of a barrier (scab) to block further drainage, is well underway when patients leave our New York gynecomastia operating suite. The inflammatory phase takes place over the next few days when white blood cells arrive to fight infection. These few days are when swelling usually peaks and guys may experience mild to moderate discomfort.
Scar tissue is the star of the third and fourth phases of healing, and what wound experts have to say about the timing roughly coincides what we see in our man boob patients. In our experience, subcutaneous scar tissue begins to form about three or four weeks after surgery. It continues to build for a few to several weeks. During this time, it is not unusual for guys to feel or even see lumps under the skin. We always tell our patients not to panic. The tissue will continue to change over time.
The fourth and final stage of healing is usually called “maturation” or “strengthening.” This is when scar tissue stretches and becomes stronger and more flexible. Most patients see uneven tissues settle out within three or four months or a little longer. You must understand, however, that it’s quite possible your chest will look smoother and more contoured than it feels. Scar tissue can’t be avoided—it’s the appearance that really counts.
When we prepare our patients for gynecomastia surgery in New York, scarring is a topic that always comes up. When they ask if they can take steps to help, our answer is an enthusiastic “yes!” Read on for recommendations.
There’s no scientific evidence that massage helps, but some surgeons are very much in favor of it and most think it can’t hurt if performed properly. We advise our patients to start no sooner than four or five weeks after surgery and then be very gentle. This can help mobilize fluid to reduce overall swelling. Later, at about eight weeks post-op, a guy is welcome to try more vigorous massage. While it won’t cause scar tissue to disappear, it may help stretch the fibers and make them a bit more pliable.
Other helpful moves to make:
• Make sure you’ve told your surgeon about any health conditions you have— diabetes and high blood pressure are two that can affect healing.
• Don’t smoke— nicotine constricts blood vessels and inhibits circulation to the wound.
• Eat a healthy diet and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
• Follow your surgeon’s instructions, particularly about the compression garment and strenuous activity, to the letter.
We monitor our patients very carefully following gynecomastia surgery in New York, and this includes following the progression of scar tissue. For the small group of patients that do experience persistent lumpiness under the skin, steroid injections can usually take care of the problem.
You can read more about massage after gynecomastia surgery and scar tissue in our blog archives. You can also join gynecomastia.org and hear from other man boob experts as well.
If you’re ready for an in-person consultation, give us a call at 561-367-9101.
Reach out to Dr. Jacobs today to schedule your consultation!