Truth or Myth: Plastic Surgeons' Scars are Better Than Other Doctors'

Many people want plastic surgeons to close wounds created by other surgeons. It is commonly believed that these docs have magical hands and can do a better job at closing wounds than other physicians. It turns out that they are right; plastic surgeons' scars usually do look better than any other type of doctor, surgeons included. And the reason? Often the scar is the whole operation. And plastic surgeons may take hours to close wounds. At the end of a long operation, perhaps by a cardiac surgeon, the last thing a doc wants to do is keep a patient on the operating table longer just to make the scar look better. So, often wounds are closed in one layer, maybe even with staples. And if these are left in longer than a week, then point marks can result. And if the stitches or staples are placed too tight, cross marks develop.

Posted on | Arthur Perry, MD, FACS | Comments ()

Many people want plastic surgeons to close wounds created by other surgeons. It is commonly believed that these docs have magical hands and can do a better job at closing wounds than other physicians. It turns out that they are right; plastic surgeons' scars usually do look better than any other type of doctor, surgeons included. And the reason? Often the scar is the whole operation. And plastic surgeons may take hours to close wounds. At the end of a long operation, perhaps by a cardiac surgeon, the last thing a doc wants to do is keep a patient on the operating table longer just to make the scar look better. So, often wounds are closed in one layer, maybe even with staples.  And if these are left in longer than a week, then point marks can result. And if the stitches or staples are placed too tight, cross marks develop.


So, why are plastic surgeon's scars better than other docs? I’m going to let you in on a plastic surgeon’s secrets. But, please don’t try this at home...


First, when possible, plastic surgeons orient the scar along a normal wrinkle line or hide it in a natural crease, like the fold between the cheek and the upper lip. Then, the skin is surgically lifted right off of the fat to break the stretch of the skin. Then, the skin is closed in 2 layers: dissolving stitches underneath and fine stitches or glue superficially. And voila! 95% of the time, scars look good. The other 5%?  You can't fight your genes...But the chance of having a good quality scar, one that is hard to see, increases if your doc follows these rules.

Blog written by Arthur Perry, MD, FACS
Dr. Perry has over 2 decades of experience as a clinical surgeon and has been named to the “Best Doctors in the NY Area” book...