what to do with this scar?

Does anyone have experience with creams and things to "diminish" the sternotomy scar from open heart surgery?
Anyone have suggestions with dressing around the scar?
Any words of wisdom on accepting and going on with this scar?

Report post

19 replies. Join the discussion

Hi... My scar is still so fresh. Only 5 months.So I'm really no help . I was told to use cocca butter cream... so I do. If anyone has better advise ...I'd love to know also.

Marie

Report post

Hi
I'm only 4 months out. My incision site is tender and now that I finally started cardiac rehab more tender, also from my grandkids bumping it!
I've heard to use coco butter, vitamin E...then i read from medical sites that Vit. E does nothing. I want to try that Maderma stuff...it's all so confusing.

Report post

Time ladies. I know it's not easy, but it just takes some time. It's been 2 years, and most of the time now I don't think about my scar, and I don't try to cover it.

For the record, during the first 6 months I tried Vitamin E and also Mederma....and don't think either made a difference physically.

It's a conversation starter sometimes; I've had lots of opportunities to talk to people about heart disease in women. It's proof that we are survivors.

Hang in there....it does get better.

Sandy

Report post

It's been 20 months for me. Nothing much helps the scarring, it is what it is. I don't attempt to over it up. My sister tells me it looks like very high cleavage. Anyway, I try to wear it with pride, because without it, I would probably be dead.

Scottie

Report post

My scar is 41 years young! It has faded with time, and it even tans! Like many of the ladies here, I now show it with pride. In my teens, 20's and even 30's, I was more self conscious, and tried various things to help it fade, nothing really helped but time. It has been part of me for most of my life, and as I become more involved with advocacy, I find that our scars give us common ground, a connection if you will, that allows for that door to open to conversation, support, education and sisterhood.

Nancy

Report post

I am further out than out than most of these ladies and not so far out as others. I had triple bypass 12/30/07 at age 41. Heart attack 18 days later caused by a blood clot in one of my new bypasses. Vitamin E may not seem to help in the long run, but it did help me with the burning and itching of healing. In the first 6 months, I felt like ants were marching across my scar and the Vitamin E helped that a lot. Also, my scar was raised, red and "angry" until about a month ago. I was beginning to accept that it was not going to improve in appearance, when I awoke one day to find it pink instead of red. I awoke a few days later to find it less raised. Now, I notice a difference every week or so. I tried to hide it at first. But I live in a humid climate with high temps in the Summer. I know this will be with me for life. When I look in the mirror it reminds me that without that scar, I would not be here. So, I have gradually accepted my scar as part of my history. If I did not have my scar, I would not have been at my grandson's first birthday celebration in August. I would not have seen him take his first step in my house. Try to think of it in terms of what you have gained from it in life, instead of how it has changed your appearance. It has changed you from the inside in more ways than you have discovered yet.

Take care -
Dianna

Report post

It's sorta like a pimple, you notice it more than others. People are usually so into themselves they don't look at the details of others. In my five years with my scar about 5 people asked about it, and they had their own scar. I'm 53 and not ready for turtlenecks. With time you will learn to not look at it.

Report post

It's your "Badge of Courage"!
- Peg

Report post

An unhappy person once asked me how I could live with such an ugly scar--I just smiled and told her I couldn't live without it.

The scar is nearly 5 years old now, and it isn't very noticable any more. Just a tiny silver line.

It is your reminder of the second chance you have been given! :)

Report post

Hi!
I have no personal experience but a friend used gel patches for her scar and according to her it is now flatter and has faded.

http://www.biodermis.com/scar_products/epi-derm

Grace x

Report post

I was 25 years old when I needed my first open heart surgery for a birth defect. I lied to my doc and put my life at risk all because of the fear of that ugly scar. Finally things got so bad I had no choice but to tell the truth. I was in the hospital the next day.

I hated my scar, but loved life with energy and hope. One day I was in the gym (something I had NEVER been able to do prior to my surgery) and in my little towel in the locker room a lady pointed to my scar and she gasped, "Oh, my God, you've had open heart surgery!" I admitted yes and then she shared that she had a 3-year-old son at home who was supposed to have open heart surgery. . . for the exact same defect I had. The same surgeon wanted to operate on this boy, but the mom and said "no" because she couldn't bear to see her son hurt. So I explained what her son would experience and how she could be there for him. I held her as she cried and I'm sure a little boy grew up to play baseball and have fun I couldn't have.

My scar went from being a deformity to a gift. I've had the opportunity to share that gift many more times. Years later I wrote a book of humorous essays called "Take Heart" and one of my essays is about morphing to Scar Chest.

You've been given a gift. Celebrate life. I celebrate the fact that you've connected to WomenHeart. It's a special place.
Rudy

Report post

Hi girls,
You all have such wisdom. I am so proud to read your responses. I like "badge of courage". My scar is 16 months old and still can be felt as a ridge. It has faded and the staple scars are more visible than the vertical scar. The first year I would not wear my saphire and diamond pendant that my husband gave me for our 25th anniversary but I thought how silly that was so I put it back own at the year anniversary of my quad cabg. It is like anything else traumatic that happens to us, with time the trauma eases and the pain fades. The options are WHAT?

My bilateral endarterectomy scars on my neck, one done at the same time as the cabg and the other done a month later, hit my vanity more than the cabg. When I mention them to anyone, they always tell me they are not noticeable to them. The biggest scars for me and probably all of us are on the inside because we were all too young to have such serious failures of our bodies. We thought they would not fail us until much later in our lives. With time and help from friends like you, those scars are fading also. We are survivors and we can give hope to others and the scars open doors, as so many of you have noted.

You all are brave and courageous, hence the "purple heart scar", and thanks for all your encouragement.

Carolyn

Report post

Yes Carolyn...those emotional scars. I had to get to a place where I could be thankful for my surgery to begin that healing process. And I find this community to be the best "salve" for helping to continue the healing; I'm still working on it.

Sandy

Report post

My valve replacement surgery was just last July. I used Vitamin E and can't really say that it physically helped or didn't. But I believe that applying it each morning after my shower helped emotionally. I could look at it and marvel at the wonder of it all. The scar is fading little by little. The ridge is still there. I don't hide it or hide from it. It is truly our Badge of Courage. Without it many of us wouldn't be here to cheer each other on.

Report post

I use olive oil.I was involved in a horrific motorcycle wreck while in high school.Had a lot of scarring on both arms and legs.DR recommended olive oil,it worked great.My scar is very light.

Report post

My sister in law is so into that stuff! When I was well enough to travel we went to go see her and I told her how my stretchmarks were really bothering me (they were BIG and purple!) and she gave me a block of 100% shea butter and in 1 month I saw a drastic difference. I had stretch marks on my arms, legs, and belly (of course) and now I only have light stretch marks on my belly, come think of it I need to buy some more shea butter. Anyways, it's easy to find on the internet and it's only like $12 for a block and a block will last you a really long time b/c you only use a little bit for a large area. Another benefit is that your skin will get REALLY soft, I highly recommend it!
Martha

Report post

Sisters....
all this wonderful advice. THANK you. I'm gaining more courage from your words to just let it be...yes, it is a badge of courage...a life-saving battle scar. When I move sometimes, it feels like i'm going to stretch it out of shape or something. It is starting to raise up somewhat and it's a little uncomfortable when i wear necklaces...anyone else experience that?

Report post

I still have days where I cannot stand for anything to touch my scar or even the skin around it. It feels like ants with electric charges in their tiny feet walking across my skin and can be quite maddening. I have nights where I can't stand for the sheets to touch my skin that area. I asked a pharmacist about this when looking for some relief and he told me it takes up to a year after surgery for all the nerves that were cut in surgery to repair themselves. Until then, they can misfire at will. Also, I still have days where my scar gets "angry" as I call it. It will get red and swollen for a few days or even a week or so. The scars on my leg from where they took the grafts also do this.

Everything you are experiencing is normal!

Take care -

Dianna

Report post

Try Mederma cream? not sure of the spelling. It is about 18 dollars a tube and Walmart has it cheaper than anywhere else. It might burn a little at first but it works. I had surgery almost two years and people don't even notice my scar. It really works well, I also bought some vit E oil and put it on there as well. I thought I would never get rid of mine, but I am very pleased with it now.
Good Luck!

Report post

This discussion is closed to replies. We close all discussions after 90 days.

If there's something you'd like to discuss, click below to start a new discussion.

Things you can do

Support WomenHeart

Help WomenHeart reach its goals and support people like yourself by making a donation today.

Donate to  WomenHeart

Discussion topics

Heart health links and resources


The SCAD Ladies Stand Up -- Read the special report

Community leaders

Disclaimer

The information provided by this online support network through WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease and Inspire is for general informational purposes only. The information is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. If you are ill, or suspect that you are ill, see a doctor immediately. In an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease never recommends or endorses any specific physicians, products or treatments for any condition.