Silicone sheets are a key player in non-invasive prevention of thick, raised scars referred to as hypertrophic and keloid scars. Studies have shown that these products can also be highly effective for thick scars you already have, and even ones that have been present for years.
How Do Silicone Scar Sheets Work?
Silicone scar sheets are composed of medical grade silicone that have an inherent stickiness allowing them to adhere to dry skin. Studies have repeatedly found topical silicone sheets to have few to no side effects for most users. The leading theory on how they work is that the occlusive properties of the sheets create a waterproof barrier over the healing wound or existing scar which acts as a replacement for the abnormal top layer of skin called the stratum corneum that is characteristic of thick scars. Hydrating the scar and providing a substitute top skin layer is believed to decrease inflammation, reduce swelling in the scar and, very importantly, reduces the activity of the collagen-producing cells called fibroblasts. When used on new cuts or surgical incisions, silicone scar sheets are also believed to act as a barrier to infection by bacteria and other organisms. The overall effect is to decrease collagen formation in the scar tissue and therefore decrease the overall volume and thickness of the scar. Silicon oil that exudes from the strips may also soothe scar tissue and help reduce itchiness and pain hypertrophic scars and keloids often cause.
Studies have shown very noticeable improvements in the general appearance of hypertrophic and keloid scars including improved color, thickness and also decrease in itching, pain, and tension at the scar site.
When To Start Using Silicone Sheets:
If you’re looking to reduce thickness, discoloration, itchiness, or pain in a thick existing scar, 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 sheets 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 Scar Sheets:
How long to wear silicone scar sheets depends primarily on whether they are being used preventatively or to improve an existing scar. Use the sheets for at least 3 months after injury or surgery as a preventative measure. Use for 6 months for existing scars helps to ensure a scar that has begun to improve doesn’t begin to get worse again.
Disadvantages With Silicone Scar Sheets:
Silicone scar sheets are safe and do have medical research to back up their value with respect to treating old scars. Most patients that report issues with silicone scar sheets complain that they peel off during the day, especially over mobile areas such as the shoulder, and for that reason are tricky to use according to the suggested regimen. For that reason, compliance with silicone scar sheets is less than optimal, and many patients abandon the treatment before it has had a chance to provide maximal benefit.
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.