The placement and extent of the scars is highly dependent on the type of mastectomy (or lumpectomy) you have, which is largely dictated by the location of the tumor or tumors. Scars fade with time but will always be slightly visible. However, specialized medical tattooing can help disguise scarring.
To reduce the appearance of your scars, do the following:
Ask your surgeon when you’ve healed enough to start scar massage. Gently massaging the scar area can help to soften the tissue. Some women use cocoa butter, vitamin E oil or lotion, or other products to prevent or lessen scarring. Lotions may make it easier to massage your scars; however, there is no clear evidence that they actually reduce scar formation.
Silicone sheets are clear, sticky patches. There’s some evidence that wearing silicone sheets can improve the appearance of scars. Ask your surgeon when you will be healed enough to start using them.
Smoking or vaping tobacco decreases blood circulation to the skin and hurts the healing process. It can cause wound healing problems and worsen scarring.
UV rays can damage the healing areas of your skin. Try to keep the scar area under cover. If you must expose it, apply a high-SPF sunblock to protect it. Sun exposure during scar healing can lead to increased pigmentation in the scar.
Tattooing to disguise or improve the appearance of scars has become much more popular in recent years. In addition to recreating the look of the nipple and areola, tattoos can be used to cover scars with artistic images. Some women choose to have lacy “bras,” flowers, or other images tattooed across their breasts. Others choose to go further and make their entire chests into works of art. Many women find that getting a tattoo after a mastectomy is psychologically and emotionally healing.
A growing number of tattoo artists specialize in postmastectomy tattooing. The Friedman Center has on-site and off-site resources available for state of the art medical tattooing.