How to treat Scars or Pigmentation on my skin, after my breast cancer treatment ?

Certain life tragedies can leave a scar not only on your body but SOUL! Well, breast cancer is a similar-like situation. 'Not to worry, time heals every scar' - this phrase sounds so dramatic and fake sometimes, doesn't it? But this is what it is - ACCEPTANCE AND SELF LOVE IS THE KEY! 


If nobody told you this, let me tell you - It's alright to have physical scars, your beautiful soul can't be judged based on your physical appearance. You are a beautiful divine being who fought against the most disastrous time of your life - BREAST CANCER, & you are a winner in my eyes. But yes, in contrast to this, we can surely take effective measures to minimize them over time by some good and healthy habits. 


'According to the researchers, 90% of the young folks & people who are addicted to alcohol are more likely to develop scar sooner which may end up for a lifetime.'


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Eradicating the scars from the root requires the utmost knowledge about the causes and the factors affecting them.  


Relevant Stats 


  • According to the cytecare, 'breast cancer was reported for 14% of the Indian women.'
  • Stats of Breast Cancer, 2018 - revealed the 1,62,468 new breast cancer cases  & 87,090 death cases.
  • In India, as per 2018 stats, more than 50% of the women suffered from STAGE-3 & STAGE-4 LEVEL Breast Cancer.
  • Approx 60% of women survive post-cancer treatment and in the U.S. the percentage is 80%. Here, the survival rates in India are low as compared to the U.S. because we Indians lack in detecting the symptoms of breast cancer at the early stage. 


What causes scarring? 


  • Radiation therapy

Uneven skin thickening of the bones is caused due to Radiation Therapy, which may result in the formation of Scars. It is caused due to the gathering of the fibrous tissues giving birth to fibrosis. 


'Blistering Sores' & 'Chafing' - may lead to permanent scars. 


  • Surgical drains

These drains are the ones that are put inside the breast post-surgery. The scar size that it may leave is based upon the two factors- 

      • A time number of drains used.
      • Total time for which the drains were put in the breast.

  • Chemotherapy ports

Having applied for the chemotherapy purpose, the scar caused due to this therapy is seen just beside the collar bone or above the breast area.


  • Lymph Node Dissection

Leads to the tightness of the skin, and increases when tight clothes are worn. This stretches and strengthens the scar marks on your skin which becomes more and more visible with time. But initially, this scar doesn't hold too much visibility and is seen only if you wear a swimming costume or two pieces.


How to treat scars or pigmentation on my skin, after my breast cancer treatment?


Availing Cosmetic Alternatives 

Having the Cosmetic treatment on scars is suggested only after the 80-90% healing of the scar to avoid any further injury on that site.


You can choose the methods below to cover your scar after waiting for a proper 1-2 year of scar healing -


  • Chemical Peels

  • Laser Therapy

  • Fat Injections 

  • Topical Bleaching

  • Dermal fillers


Although, not to doubt its after-results, yet the consequences of such alternatives will vary from person to person. Likely, these methods will least work on the scars of women having dark skin, researchers say!


Scar Oil Massage/Silicone Gels

'Massage via essential oils has been scientifically verified to comfort you from any kind of scars!' Especially if you have undergone breast cancer treatment, you need to make sure to gently massage the scar area with oils prescribed by your specialist. 


You can also use Silicone Gels in the place of oils. It will help you rejuvenate your skin providing the necessary moisture and oxygen to the scar area. It will have miraculous effects on your scar area -


  • Oils can also be replaced by some good moisturizers to heal the scars.

  • Oils generally keep the scar hydrated making the scar tissue softer. 


Post Surgical Remedies

It's good to have the feeling of successful treatment of breast cancer, but it isn't over yet - you need to be extra cautious for post-surgery care! 


As per researchers, - ' More the intake of alcohol, more is the dehydration, and more is the stoppage of immunity based cells & oxygen supply in the scar tissues making it longer to get the healing from roots.' 


Also, avoid smoking, intake of drugs or non-beneficial foods, fried dishes that hamper the supply of oxygen to the injured area.


Be extra careful of what you drink, eat or wear. Everything will affect your scars directly or indirectly.  


Apply Sunscreen on Scars

Scars, marks, pigmentation are all part of women's life. Precautions taken at an early state can help get rid of these scars sooner! 


As per researchers, 'the sunscreens work to protect your skin from 90% of the harmful chemicals and an air-borne bacteria.'


According to one of the Medical Aesthetician Baylor College of Medicine named Kim Chang, - 'Vitamin C or the L-ascorbic acid when applied on your skin will not only protect you from sun damages but beyond that.' 


He further added to this, 'skin damages like the scars, skin burns, post-ablative methods & the photodamage caused due to the ultraviolet radiations can be healed and protected via vitamin c contained in the sunscreen.'


Soft Clothing

Who doesn't like soft and comfy clothes? Well, I surely can't pack myself under tight tops or any other form of uncomfortable dresses! Think about a patient who has just recovered from a traumatic incident - breast cancer treatment, yes if you are the one who went through this, then you need to be extra choosy with what you let your skin wear. 


Generally, wearing a tight bra or a tight dress can rub against your scar making it worse with body itching. 


You can choose to wear a -

  • Post-surgical bra

  • Non-under-wired bra

  • Nylon loose upper wears


Clothing plays a vital role as researchers say that - it can either help you heal your scar better by 50 times or make it worse by the same number of times!


Be Gentle on your Skin

To heal the scar sooner, you need to avoid vigorous stretches, exercises, and other attempts that may maximize the scar mark. You can do simple, light stretches or arm exercises as suggested by the physician. 


As per researchers, 'It is quintessential to be gentle on to your skin at least till the breast cancer treatment stitches are still there on your body and till 6 months minimum when the stitches are removed - It will strengthen the scar healing process.'


Key Takeaways

Physical scars can often lead to mental stress and body shaming. It starts affecting your outer appearance, shape, people's comments, intimacy, ways people perceive and treat you! Nonetheless, this should be the least priority to you. You are beautiful the way you are. Moreover, such scars won't remain for the long period. It gets healed and disappears with time in 60% of the cases. So there is nothing to worry about. You will get better with time by shifting your focus on doing something productive. In case of any distress, speak to your counselor or the doctor, he will be able to guide you better on this subject. 


References

https://www.verywellhealth.com/scarring-and-breast-cancer-430459


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