One of the leading post-operative problems that people face is scars.
Since pectus excavatum surgeries are demanding, it is understandable that a wound will remain on the site, which can be very visible. You will have to be very careful about this. Some patients can be very insecure about the scar, even though their chest is flattened after the surgery.
Thankfully, the surgical scar is less noticeable thanks to the improvement in minimally invasive surgeries to correct pectus excavatum like the Nuss procedure.
It is a huge step forward for everyone suffering from pectus excavatum.
Improvement Over the Years
Even though I am always in favor of improving the deformity non-surgically wherever applicable, we must respect the improvement in the surgical procedure correction over the years.
Surgery can be the best solution for those who suffer from severe psychological consequences or when the deformity causes serious health issues like heart or lung compression.
Surgery is a process that requires preparation, determination, and perseverance.
Age, surgical risk, severity or complexity of your deformity, including sternal rotation, and, of course, patient preference are all critical considerations that can impact what type of surgery you should undergo.
The doctor should always be there for you and in the decision-making process.
Ask About the Scar
In that long process, you need a doctor's direction and preparation for everything that will come your way.
It would be best if you prepared yourself for the consequences of the surgery.
Ask about everything you want to know about the surgical scar after the operation. It is better to ask all the foolish questions before, rather than regret later and feel sorry for the lack of information.
Some minimally invasive procedures like the Magnetic Mini Mover Procedure (3MP) leave a very small scar after correction.
Although it is the responsibility of the doctor and the medical team to inform you in time about everything, still ask. It is about your body and your choice.
Some doctors will even expect you to know some of the consequences of the surgery, such as the scar.
Many patients face difficult periods, especially after surgery. In that post-operative period, you must be patient and very careful. Know that the operation is highly beneficial and will most likely solve your insecurity problems, so endure the postoperative period as well.
You may encounter ups and downs, but that is not permanent and will pass.
Post-operative Scar in Pectus Carinatum or Excavatum
Ravtich Procedure Scar
To perform the most common operation for pectus carinatum, the modified Ravich procedure, it is necessary to make an incision.
Incisions can in the midline (vertical) or sub-mammary (side-to-side ).
The big wound from the operation will disappear in time. Of course, it will not be invisible. It will stand as a small and thin line.
Of course, in the post-operative period, when you are already at home, if уou notice any change in your wound, seek help immediately and do not wait for it to pass by itself. A common minor side effect of the surgery may be a red, thickened wound that causes itching and discomfort.
A good and successful operation is one in which the results satisfy both the medical team and the patient. It implies a visible cosmetic improvement and a corrected deformity. A linear scar, symmetry in the chest, and no additional shifts in the wound healing period are also part of the successful surgery.
Surgery for both pectus excavatum and pectus carinatum leaves a wound and scar.
Nuss Procedure Scar
The open Ravitch procedure for treating pectus excavatum entailed cutting an incision in the front of the chest and removing parts of the ribs afflicted by the pectus.
Using the new Nuss surgery or minimally invasive repair approach, it is no longer required to make those large incisions or remove any ribs, cartilage, or part of the sternum. Small lateral chest wall incisions allow the surgeon to reach the chest and correct your deformity.
The post-operative scar would be smaller with that one; usually, the incision is on the side of the chest, under the armpit.
Pectus Bar Removal Scar
Making an incision in the front chest and then removing portions of all the ribs damaged by the pectus is necessary for the open Ravitch procedure.
The outer layer of the cartilage ribs is preserved for the ribs to regenerate. Doctors must fracture at least parts of the sternum to bend it in the best position possible.
Bleeding, infection, lung and pleura damage, and the need for chest drains are all possible risks of the open procedure. The result is satisfying, but it leaves a scar on the chest.
5 Tips to Heal a Scar After Surgery
In most circumstances, the size of a scar and its healing process determine many factors, including the size of the incision, how quickly it heals, the skin type, the patient's age and health, and how well the patient cared for it.
The faster and easier a scar heals, the less noticeable it is.
Before you leave the hospital, doctors will give you a manual on taking care of yourself and what you can and should not do, all to heal faster and recover.
1. Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle
For best healing, follow your surgeon's instructions to take the best care of your scar on the chest.
Closely related matters to successful surgery and recovery are your lifestyle, diet, and weight.
If you are overweight, you may be more prone to scarring since the fat beneath your skin can impede your surgeons from sealing your wound as well as they can.
2. Stop Smoking and Drinking
An additional problem that is related to your lifestyle is smoking cigarettes.
Smoking increases your chance of scarring and slows down the healing process. Also, try to avoid alcohol. It dehydrates the body and reduces your general health and the ability to recover faster and go back to your day-to-day life.
Drinking a lot of water and practicing healthy habits is the key.
3. Eat Healthily
A healthy diet also plays a part in the post-operative healing process. Getting enough nutritional amounts of minerals and vitamins in our bodies increases our chances of faster and more proper healing. A healthy diet and a beneficial lifestyle will lead to a better self!
4. Creams and Lotions
If you follow all the doctor's recommendations correctly, you'll avoid possible infections, which can be a terrible part of the recovery process.
Also, using creams and lotions for your scar might help a lot.
Using silicone gels boosts skin hydration and creates the ideal environment for normalizing collagen synthesis, which helps reduce scars. Another alternative is to use Vitamin E topically.
5. Moving the Body Properly
It is crucial for patients with pectus deformities to remain still and only move minimally during the first few days postsurgically.
Lifting, moving, or stretching may interfere with the injury's healing process. Forcing the body can occasionally pull the incision apart, causing the healing process to delay.
Again, following your surgeon's post-surgery instructions about moving and breathing techniques is critical.
Choose an Endless Solution
The wound and the scar as post-operative problems should not disappoint and deter you from your ultimate goal: having a flat chest and normal heart and lungs functioning. If you want to undergo surgery and think that is the best way to improve the deformity, do it!
Scars Can Make Patients Dissatisfied
However, remember that surgery may not make you 100% satisfied with the outcome. I've had many clients and read many experiences from people who even underwent several operations to correct their chest fully.
Still, their satisfaction is not at the highest level. If that is the case, I always recommend choosing a long-term healing process that will daily invest in yourself and your appearance. Don't rely only on surgeons for you to love your appearance. Start working out and taking care of your body and skin.
Pectus excavatum or pectus carinatum deformities will not be a problem in such a process. You will be satisfied internally.
Of course, I note again that health must be paramount. So, please choose the best doctor and work with them to determine the best method to correct the deformity.
Accept the Scar
After a good recovery, the most important thing is to feel good.
The wound and the scar will heal with time. However, if the scarring is visible after the healing, don't consider it a problem. Consider the scar as a symbol of your strength, and you'll have the power to heal yourself completely.
Return to your regular life as soon as possible, and don't worry too much about the scarring.
Consult your doctor to determine the optimum time for you to begin working out and moving more.
When you have all the needed answers, set some goals and continue on your journey of becoming the strongest version of yourself!
Select what is best for you and your health and start the healing process, no matter what it looks like.
The Bottom Line
If you are still thinking about surgery, seek professional help, and ask everything that comes into your mind; please, don't rush the decision.
But, If you are going through such a postoperative period, I wish you a faster recovery. A scar can only be a sign of your courage.