Category: Spine Surgery | Author: Stefano Sinicropi | Date: September 2, 2014
Scar tissue is common in most surgical procedures. Even the most successful surgeries usually come with some form of tissue scarring – it’s difficult to completely avoid. In this post, we discuss scar tissue, how and why it forms, and how much scarring to expect in a minimally invasive spine surgery.
What is Scar Tissue?
The body produces scar tissue to replace normal skin when skin is damaged by a cut, burn, acne, or something else. Scar tissue is made up of collagen – same as the rest of your skin – but scar tissue looks different due to the difference in arrangement of the collagen.
With minimally invasive spine surgeries, scarring is much less of an issue than traditional open back procedures. That said, scar tissue is nearly impossible to completely avoid in surgery. You can expect minor scarring around the area of your incision(s). For most spine surgeries that would be around the back, neck, or stomach. Scar tissue is an important part of the body’s natural healing process, so it is generally not considered a bad thing. It is usually a cosmetic issue with most patients.
How to Minimize Scarring
When it comes to surgical procedures, surgeons do everything they can to minimize the formation of scar tissue during the operation. There are also numerous things you can do to lessen the severity of the scarring after your procedure, such as:
- Clean your wound according to your surgeon’s instructions.
- Apply ointments to reduce itching.
- Keep the wound covered, especially when outside. UV rays can delay healing and lead to discoloration of the scar tissue.
Following these tips should help keep scarring to a minimum after your procedure. There are rare cases in which scar tissue can lead to post-op pain (for example, when the scar tissue forms near the nerve roots of the spine). In these cases, additional treatments may be necessary. Talk to your doctor before your procedure about what level of scar tissue to expect after your operation and how to minimize scarring.