Closeup of woman showing on her belly dark scar from a cesarean

Silicone Gel Versus Silicone Strips: Which One To Get??

General

Silicone Gels and Silicone Strips For Scarring

The benefit of silicone gel and silicone strips for the treatment and prevention of thick scars like hypertrophic scars and keloid scars has been established since the 1980s. A statement from the International Advisory Panel on Scar Management confirmed the benefit of silicone-based products for preventing hypertrophic or keloid scarring. These scar products come in two major forms:

  • silicone gel: supplied in a tube and applied like an ointment to the skin
  • silicone strips (also known as silicone gel tape, silicone gel pads, and silicone gel sheets)

Gels And Strips: The Pros And Cons

When shopping for silicone scar products, there is often confusion as to which product – gel or strips – will be best for an individual’s needs. The pros and cons of the two product groups are summarized here:

Silicone Gel For ScarsSilicone Strips For Scars
quick drying ointment adheres easily to skinadheres like tape, can be difficult to secure over mobile areas like joints and on oilier areas or when sweating
dries on. to skin, never needs supplementary adhesionmay need supplementary adhesion such as with paper tape
clear gel makes it less noticeable strip design makes them more noticeable; can be awkward on face and neck
fresh product dispensed from tube for each userequires washing between usage to maintain effectiveness and sticking properties
requires drying time; may get removed by clothing prior to complete dryingno drying time required
can be tedious to apply to longer, more complex incisions and scarsfaster and easier application to incisions and scars that are longer or are patterned such as with tummy tucks, and “lollipop” breast lifts for which specialty silicone strip products are available.
at least twice daily application neededonce per day application only

Try the ScarScore Scar Assessment to learn about your own risks for the different types of scars:

Silicone Scar Gel & Silicone Strips Side Effects:

Silicone is an inert material, meaning it is highly non-reactive. As such, very few significant side effects have been reported with the use of either silicone scar gels and silicone scar strips, tapes, sheets, and tapes. The product group has been approved by the FDA for use to prevent and reduce heavy scarring. A small percentage of users of silicone gel and silicone strips develop itchiness or rashing that may require them to discontinue usage.

When To Start Using Silicone Gel and Silicone Strips For Scars:

For fresh wounds and incisions, the application of silicone products should begin as soon as possible after the wound has healed. For silicone gels, this is generally around 2 weeks into healing. Silicone strips, silicone tapes, and silicone sheets generally need about 4 weeks of healing before use since they can adhere firmly to the skin making removal potentially traumatic to a just-healed wound.

What About Old Scars?

Silicone gel and silicone strips have also been shown in medical studies to work on older scars (as much as 2 years old) in order to improve the appearance of these scars as well as decrease itchiness or pain, however, the benefit is likely not as significant as for newer scars.

When To Start Using Silicone Gel And Sheets:

Existing/Old Scars:

If you’re looking to reduce thickness, discolouration, itchiness, or pain in a thick existing scar, silicone gel abd silicone sheets can be started any time and have been shown to be effective.

New Cuts and Incisions:

Different doctors and surgeons have varying practices for when they recommend starting to use silicone products on scar. Using them after the wound has healed (usually 2-3 weeks) is always safe, but starting earlier is advocated as well. The best approach is to ask your health care practitioner when she or he suggests beginning silicone sheet usage but to have them at the time of your procedure is scheduled in order to avoid delays in starting treatments once the wound is ready.

How To Use Silicone Gel and Silicone Strips For Scars:

Silicone gel products should be applied twice per day and massaged in. Wait for the product to dry before putting on clothing that may wipe it off. Silicone gel strips should be applied once daily and worn for 12 to 24 hours per day.

How to apply silicone scar products (video credit: Dr. Shareef Jendali)

How Long To Use Silicone Gels And Silicone Strips:

Silicone products should be worn for at least 3 to 6 months or longer and continued for as long as improvement is occurring. Older scars generally take longer to respond and show more modest benefits to silicone scar products than older scars. You should use the products for as long as it takes to see or maintain the improvement with older scars. This can be 6 to 12 months or more.

Which Works Better on Scars?

Research has shown that silicone gels and silicone strips work about equally when it comes to prevention and improving scars when it comes to:

  • thickness and size
  • irregularity
  • hardness
  • color
  • itchiness
  • pain

The choice between silicone gel products or silicone strips scar products should therefore be based on ease of use because with silicone products consistency is everything and both need to be used for an extended period of time to see results. If a silicone product is too tedious or time-consuming for you to use consistently, you’re probably just wasting your time and money.

The Bottom Line: Which Silicone To Buy?

Choose Silicone Scar Gel If:

  • you have a facial scar/wound because strips will be very conspicuous
  • you have oilier skin or are prone to sweating because strips will be tricky to keep on
  • your scar/wound is on a mobile area like the knee
  • washing reusable strips seems like too much work

Choose Silicone Scar Strips, Tapes, Sheets, or Pads If:

  • you’re on the go and can’t wait for the drying time of gels
  • you want a once-per-day application only
  • your incision or scar is long or patterned such as with tummy tucks, c-sections, breast lifts, and breast reductions

One very significant way to improve your experience with silicone scar sheets is to choose a product that provides strips that are at least as long as your incision so that you can use one strip at a time, instead of adhering multiple strips side-to-side. This will make the problem of a strip dislodging from your skin less likely and will also make putting the strips on quicker and easier. Choosing strips specifically designed for your incision pattern, such as products made for breast lifts, breast reductions and C-sections, will provide similar advantages. Our current top recommended silicone gel and silicone strips products are:

Top Recommended Silicone Gel For Scars:

  1. Mederma Advanced Scar Gel

2. ScarAway 100% Medical Grade Silicone

3. Mederma Kids Skin Care For Scars

Top Recommended Silicone Strips:

Incisions or Wounds less than 3 inches:

1. ScarAway Medical Silicone Scar Sheets

2. Aramoas Professional Silicone Scar Sheets

Incisions or Wounds up to 6 inches:

1. TEATTY Medical Silicone Scar Sheets

Incisions or Wounds 6 inches or more:

1. AWD Medical Soft Silicone Gel Tape 

Best For Peri-Areolar Incisions (around the areola):

1. Silikan Areola Gel Circles

Best for Lolli-Pop Breast Lift/Mastopexy and Breast Reductions:

1. Scar Fx Silicone Sheeting – Lollipop

Best for Anchor Pattern Breast Lift/Mastopexy and Breast Reductions:

1. Scar Fx Silicone Scar Therapy – Anchor

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