We asked our contributors for tips and suggestions on how they deal with their scars after various skin cancer treatments and surgeries. Here is what two of them, Judy and Liz, had to say.
I’ve had numerous surgeries to remove skin cancer areas, so I have more than a few scars. The good news is that surgical scars will fade; mine are now hardly visible. My doctor recommended that I use an over-the-counter scar cream to help with scar visibility. (He recommended Mederma.) I used the scar cream faithfully for two months following surgery, once I had my first follow-up appointment post surgery and got my doctor’s okay to start using it. I had one scar, though, that was on my face and was a raised scar, which I’d never had before. The scar cream wasn’t helping that, and the scar was still a fairly bright red color two months after surgery. My doctor then recommended a prescription scar cream, which I was able to purchase at his office. That cream helped with the redness, and somewhat helped with the raised nature of the scar. Scars on my face healed the fastest; scars on my legs seemed to take the longest to fade.
Cancerous areas that were treated with a laser, though, are another story. Before my first experience with laser removal, my doctor told me that lasers leave a white scar (usually a circular looking area), and unfortunately this doesn’t fade. Scar creams haven’t helped with this, and I now have quite a few pinkish-white areas from the laser, which won’t go away.
Be aware that scar areas are more sensitive and susceptible to sunburn. When applying sunscreen, pay special attention to scarred areas, because mine turn pink rather quickly with just a little sun exposure.
Honestly, I’m to the point where I typically don’t notice my scars (even the more-obvious scars from the lasers), and I have yet to have someone ask me what they are. Scars are now just a part of me and my journey with skin cancer.
Scars as a reminder
During my professional career, body changes and its effect were very important components of the healing process; both visibly and invisibly speaking.
I guess it may be fortunate, that many of my own visible scars are not something that I can see with my own eye.
Over the years, I have come to terms with my body’s alterations.
So all the scars and asymmetries that others can see, I simply leave the adjustment to them.
For the most part, that technique has proven to work the best for me and the viewer.
People close to me know the stories.
Others may be too polite and then there are the bold ones and children, of course, who will outright inquire.
I find a simple statement provides time for the next topic to evolve.
However, a very dear friend of mine is going through a long skin cancer journey with diagnoses of many sites, repeated biopsies, various treatments and very visible scarring as she has healed
It was explained by her physician that not much will change unless she opts for plastic surgery.
If you knew my friend, you would know that is not in her realm of possibilities on many levels.
Her answer to the abundant evidence is that the scars will serve as a daily reminder to herself and her family to follow the proactive and preventive guidelines.
She is a good example of a compilation of some quotes I have seen on the internet, “These scars show I am stronger than whatever tried to hurt me; I realize my strength; I am a fighter; a survivor. I am moving on because it is like a tattoo with a better story.”
As far as treating the scar tissue, being a patient patient may help.
According to the John Hopkins Medicine Health Library, it can take a year for a scar to heal.1