What Can I Do For My Lip Laceration To Avoid An Unsightly Scar?

Q: Dr. Eppley, I have suffered an accident to my lip. I cut my lip pretty deep and it resulted in the need for stitches. The cut is not that big, however, it’s been 3 weeks and its healed fine apart from a little bumpy scar tissue. It’s the same color as my lip and slightly raised. Do you think this is a scar or is it still healing? I have been applying Vitamin E twice a day and massaging it. It’s quite a new scar so is there anything I can do to minimize the appearance and do you think I’ll be permanently scarred? Please help Thank you.

A: All incisions and lacerations will leave a permanent scar, it is just a question of how significant it will be. Any laceration that is deep enough to require stitches has entered or passed the dermis of the skin. That is going to evoke an inflammatory response and collagen production to heal the wound. Collagen production equates to the formation of scar tissue. Many factors affect whether that scar will be particularly noticeable or not. Fortunately on the lip, most lacerations run parallel to or along one of the visible lines or grooves of the vermilion of the lip. This is the most favorable location for the least amount of scarring on the lip.

Because collagen and scar production is in full swing during the first month after the injury, the lip scar will become both firm and usually raised. It will require many months until this scar tissue relaxes so one can not predict what you are currently seeing will be like that six months from now. While there is nothing wrong with applying Vitamin E and massaging it, you are trying to treat a natural healing process. Quite frankly, these maneuvers are more psychotherapy than making any real difference in the scar outcome. Time is the best scar therapy on the lip. If it seems to be a persistent problem after six months, then I would consult with a plastic surgeon about possible scar revision.  

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana