Scar Revision of the Abdomen

Q: I had a car accident in February 2009 that resulted in the need for big operation on my stomach. This has left me with a long big scar. I want to know what percent of it can be removed? I want to remove this scar for me because  don’t want to get naked in front of my husband or any person because of the scar. It is so bad that I cry a lot about it as I picture how good my stomach looked before the accident. I am 23 years old, been married two years and have no kids.

A: Scar revision is about scar reduction, not scar elimination. While I wish as a plastic surgeon I could wipe them away for patients, that is not currently possible. Therefore, the judgment about the merits of scar revision are about the degree of improvement. Is the result worthy of the efforts is the consistent question about scar revision.

The answer as to whether scar revision is meritorious for any patient lies in the physical characteristics of the particular scar. There are several features of scars that can be consistently improved by surgical methods. Scars that have surface texture problems such as being wide, raised (hypertrophic), or depressed (indented) are good candidates. These type scars can be cut out and reclosed in a variety of ways whose objective is to make them flatter and narrower. Scar features that are difficult or impossible to improve include lack of pigment (normal skin color) and visible flat narrow scars.

Without even seeing a picture of the scar on this patient, one can be fairly certain that it is a wide vertical scar running down the middle of her stomach area. Such scars often get quite wide and indented as they have healed. Scar reduction can most certainly be done with the goal of making a much narrower and flatter scar. While that will not make it invisible, it will provide at least a 50% or greater degree of improvement.   

Dr. Barry Eppley