Friday, January 11, 2013

keeping scars away.

After cleaning.
I look like I have two little crosses.
Just cleaned my stitches for the first time and feeling a little bit grossed out by the bits of blood. They hurt a little bit when I cleaned them and that frightened me! I thought I had opened the wound! My stitches look like little crosses on my face now which is quite cute I guess. There is a bit of a pinch in the stitches though which I'm just going to assume is normal for stitches. I shall just continue praying over them for good healing, and look forward to getting them out next week.

I suppose I'm just glad that this part of my journey is almost over. I pray that if there be any memories of this procedure, that'd it'd only be in my heart and mind - and not on my face.

I've been reading quite a bit on the aftercare of stitches (also known as "sutures"), as well as the nutritional needs to ensure minimal scarring on my face from them. From laymen sites to that of the advise of plastic surgeons, this is what I have gathered so far in order to help this heal well:

Obviously, I'm not a doctor, so if you're here trying to look for what's best for you, here's just bits and pieces I've got from all sorts of places in the web of knowledge that is accessible to us. But the best person to ask is still your professionally-trained doctor. :)

  1. Consider a skin adhesive instead of stitches as they have much lower chances of scarring 
    • Oh why didn't I read this earlier?! :( 
    • Apparently they only work on areas which don't move as much though (so cheeks and joint areas are probably not feasible). But I guess it would have been worth considering this option at the start before the surgery.
    • There is the option of removing the stitches then using this adhesive, but I'll check in with my doctor next week.
  2. Ensure that area is well cleaned as directed by your doctor (mine is use water, air dry, clean with saline, then put a layer of the prescribed ointment) and don't aggravate the area with unnecessary tension to the skin.
    • The little plasters I got from Guardian.
      I snipped off the ends so they'll be easier
      to remove and not bother
      the stitches too much later.
    • Yep, all done. And because I have one on my cheek, I'm going to not talk as much as possible! Brushing is such a pain though! I wish I didn't have to!
  3. Make sure you put antibiotic ointment on to keep infections away, as well as to prevent a heavy scab forming that would result in a bad scar.
  4. Cover the stitches with a bandage as this will keep the area moist and protected which will encourage healing. 
    • During my pre-surgery after-care brief yesterday, the nurse told me that covering it doesn't matter, but it says differently through quite a few sites that I've read, and I think I'd rather be safe than sorry.
    • I bought the smallest rectangular plasters I could find at Guardian and snipped off the ends to about 2mm on either side so that I could remove them easily without disturbing my skin too much.
  5. Avoid the sun as much as possible! Apparently this is one of the worst things for scars! 
    • Gotta get me one of these boxes
      for after the stitches are out.
    • I'm SO glad I took the rest of the week off. I'm going to stay indoors like a good girl. No sun for me! I'm even keeping the blinds closed. ^^
  6. Arrange to remove your stitches between 5-7 days. Apparently, anymore than that would result in an ugly "track scar". And the best is as close to 5 days as possible. 
    • I'm removing mine on Day 6. It's a blessing as the nurse at the appointment counter yesterday said that my doctor was not available on Day 7 & 8 and I wasn't comfortable with keeping it in till day 11 (after the weekend). Hopefully that will be a good day!
  7. After stitches are removed and the area is completely healed 
    1. Apply vitamin E and gently massage the area to encourage the breakdown and formation of collagen to fill the stitch area.
    2. Consider a silicone sheet to cover the area to minimize scarring.

After a surgical excision - which basically is punching a piece of your flesh out which leaves a cavity and sewing it together - nutrition is really important in order to fill up that cavity again. Specifically, collagen is important to fill up that cavity to bring the skin back to its original glory.

What is collagen?

Collagen is classified as part of our body's connective tissue...Our bones and skin are composed primarily from connective tissue, but it's found everywhere, in virtually all of our organs. It's the job of connective tissue to hold things together, to protect other tissue, and provide our body with support. Our tendons and ligaments are all connective tissue structures. Collagen is one type of fiber found within connective tissue.

Here are some foods that have been recommended.

From HubPages.
  1. Water
    • Okay, not quite "foods" but it's important to stay hydrated so your cells stay happy.
  2. Egg Whites (yay!) for their protein and proline (some amino acid) content.
  3. Berries (double yay!) for their antioxidant properties and something called "anthocyanidins" that they have.
  4. Vitamin C. This is apparently VERY important as Vitamin C helps the body produce collagen. Several sites even suggest going beyond the daily recommended intake of Vitamin C to help. Fruits such as oranges, strawberries and grapefruit and vegetables including broccoli, sweet potatoes, and red bell peppers are good sources of Vitamin C!
    • I've bought myself a carton of orange juice that I intend to drink at least twice a day.
    • I've also gotten myself a pack of Redoxon's All-day Defence Vitamin C + Zinc tablets which are 8-hour slow-release pills (you can find them at pretty much any pharmacy in Singapore). Hopefully they will keep my Vitamin C levels up throughout the day! :)
  5. Green Tea & Garlic
    • Apparently reduces collagen damage. 
  6. Tomatoes - for the lycophene that's good for you.
  7. Omega-3 Foods
  8. Slow release capsules.
    Hopefully to help me be high
    on Vitamin C throughout the day!
    • Cold water fish, such as salmon, sardines, cod, mackerel, and tuna are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that keep skin soft and supple. Flax seed oil works well too.
  9. Amino Acid boosting Foods (amino acids are the building blocks of collagen):
    1. Threonine: foods such as lentils, peanuts, eggs, milk, pork, beef and chicken. If you prefer a vegetarian diet, you can also get threonine from soybeans, chickpeas, hummus, snap beans and asparagus...
    2. Proline:  Gelatin, soy, milk, cheese, egg whites, beef and cabbage. (Vitamin C works with Proline to promote collagen production)
    3. Lysine: Animal foods high in protein are very good sources of lysine. Good choices include meats and poultry, such as red meat, pork and chicken. Other good sources include dairy products, particularly Parmesan cheese, fish such as cod and sardines and eggs.
  10. Protein Rich Foods
    • Protein-rich food can help produce elastin and collagen in your body. Proteins are essential to build, strengthen and repair tissues and help build collagen and elastin. Good sources of animal protein include organ meats, poultry, turkey, eggs and dairy products. Good sources of plant protein include nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, and soy products. Whole grains, such as quinoa, also supply some protein to your diet.
  11. Here's another really good and descriptive article on more foods that are good for you and your skin.
Looks like my daily diet has been pretty good for my skin. Along with my Flaxseed Oil and Vitamin C supplements, my body should be well supported to experience a good healing process. Inspired by my research, this afternoon I decided to make myself a skin-friendly meal! I attempted this by blending the remaining of my blanched broccoli, two tomatoes and some leftover chicken porridge together, and garnished it with Japanese seaweed so:

Step One: Put blanched broccoli and fresh raw tomatoes into blender. 
Step Two:
Add chicken porridge from stove.
Step Three:
Blend into disgusting looking mess.
Step Four:
Bring to boil on stove to psychologically make it less disgusting, and slightly more palatable.
Step Five:
Garnish and serve.
Blending the meal (because I simply because can't chew on the broccoli nor the tomatoes due to the braces and now that my right cheek is pretty much immobile...or should not be moved) made me feel a bit like a baby, or like it was prep for jaw surgery meals. It tasted tomato-y which was nice, but the mouthfeel was a bit choppy which would probably have been a little gross to most people, but just knowing how good it was for me was enough for me to devour it! I even had two bowls! Thank you, delicious skin-rejuvenating-friendly meal! 

Looks a little like pumpkin soup. :D
Help me heal well please, little bowl of healthy blended porridge!

For Surface Maintenance
Dr Mayfields Six Steps to Minimizing Surgical Scars (plastic surgeon's POV. Probably the best article!)
How to Prevent Scarring from Stitches - LiveStrong
How to Reduce Scars from Stiches - eHow
The Best Scar Treatments - Fitness Magazine
Scar Removal Q&A: What is the Absolute Longest Stitches should stay in the face -
On Nutrition for Collagen
Can you tell me which foods promote collagen? - WH Foods
How to naturally boost collagen - HowStuffWorks
Foods that Increase Collagen and Elastin - LiveStrong
Foods to Increase Collagen Production in your skin - HubPages

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