best cream for scars after surgery

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What is a Scar Cream? 

Firstly it’s important to understand how scars are formed. “The injured skin produces a protein called collagen to help repair itself. As the skin begins to heal, thickened, discolored areas form. Once it has healed, the darkness of the skin (scar) depends on the degree of the trauma. The more trauma to the skin, the longer it is going to take for the wound to heal, and also the greater the chance of having an obvious scar,” said Dr. Debra Jalimanboard-certified NYC dermatologist, Assistant Professor of Dermatology Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and author of the book, Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.

That’s where a scar cream comes in. “Scar creams are meant to target dark marks and minor textural changes. They help to promote cellular turnover and fade hyperpigmentation or discoloration,” said Dr. Dendy Engelman, cosmetic dermatologist and surgeon at Shafer Clinic in New York City. “A scar cream will help minimize the appearance of a scar by helping reduce scar tissue. It reduces irritation and redness that is usually associated with scars,” added Dr. Jaliman.

How to Properly Use a Scar Cream? 

While each product will have its own set of instructions on how often to use it, both dermatologists say it’s important to be consistent with the applications as it will take a few weeks for them to start working. 

Dr. Engelman’s biggest piece of advice when using scar creams is to start using them as soon as a scar forms, because “it’s easier to treat scars when they are fresh.” Dr. Jaliman agreed, adding, “It all depends on the severity and depth of the scar. But taking proper care of your trauma initially is crucial, because it will ultimately dictate how it heals.”

What to Look For In a Scar Cream? 

When it comes to choosing the right scar cream for your scar, there are certain ingredients that you should look for. Dr. Engelmen suggests looking for an option that features “active ingredients such as hydroquinone, kojic acid, phytic acid, l-ascorbic acid, or glycolic acid, as they brighten the skin and promote cellular turnover to reveal younger, healthier cells, fade dark spots and improve overall skin tone.”

Dr. Jaliman says scar creams are great for minimizing more superficial scars, and she suggests using products that feature allantoin and vitamin E to soften and hydrate the skin, vitamin A which encourages healthy skin cell production, and allicin which helps prevent scar tissue from forming. 

As for deeper scars, she recommends using silicone sheets because they “normalize collagen synthesis and reduce irritation and redness that is usually associated with scars.” As Dr. Jaliman explains, “The end result is a smoother, flatter scar. Plus, they keep bacteria away from the scar.”

Ready to give one of these innovative treatments a try? With these dermatologist guidelines in mind, we found nine scar creams and sheets that shoppers say greatly improved the appearance of their scars. Keep reading to learn more about them all and shop one for yourself. 

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Skin Care for Scars

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Best Overall: Mederma Advanced Scar Gel

SHOP NOW: $28; AMAZON.COM

In addition to being Amazon’s best-selling scar reducing treatment, this Mederma cream has also racked up more than 7,500 five-star ratings from customers raving about how quickly and effectively it lessened the appearance of their scars. According to the brand, it has been clinically proven to “improve the overall appearance, color, and texture” of both old and new scars. Plus, shoppers love that it only needs to be applied once a day, as it saves them time and money. “Going into six months using Mederma on my scars from open heart surgery, and it is an AMAZING improvement,” wrote one reviewer. “I noticed a change in the first few weeks, but after two months, the color of the scars was considerably lighter and the skin texture was smoother. Now, one scar you can’t see anymore, and my major scar has improved so much even my doctors are amazed. It did wonders for my self esteem.”

Derma E Scar Gel

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Best Dermatologist Pick: Derma E Scar Gel

SHOP NOW: $20; ULTA.COM

This Derma E scar gel is Dr. Jaliman’s top pick because “it’s a really nice product at a great price point that can help lighten scars.” Its main ingredients are acetyl glycyl beta-alanine and allicin, which work together with other moisturizing ingredients to lighten the pigment of a scar and help reduce its appearance over time. While the brand says it works on all types of scarring including sunburns, chemical burns, industrial burns, old scars, and stretchmarks, Dr. Jaliman says it will work best on superficial scars. Over 800 Ulta customers are also fans of the skincare product and have given it an impressive 4.5-star rating. 

Skin Care for Scars

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Best for Acne Scars: The Ordinary Deciem Azelaic Acid Suspension

SHOP NOW: $8; SEPHORA.COM

If you’re looking to reduce the appearance of acne scars, hundreds of Sephora customers recommend this cream from The Ordinary. It is specially formulated to even out your skin tone and texture, and fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation at the same time. The popular product can be used on all skin types, and it’s vegan, cruelty-free, and gluten-free. One shopper said it was “incredible for acne scars,” before adding, “This is the only Ordinary product that I have restocked on now three times. “It’s almost a “scar eraser” and does a really good job at brightening the whole area. This is one of my holy grail products that will always be in my skincare routine.”

Skin Care for Scars

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Best for Face: Honeydew Scar Cream

SHOP NOW: $10; AMAZON.COM

Thousands of Amazon shoppers love to use this Honeydew scar cream to diminish the look of scars on their face because its lightweight hydrating formula doesn’t clog their pores. It’s infused with natural ingredients like vitamin E, rosehip, and avocado oil to soften, nourish, and lighten the look of old and new scars. Even better, many customers say that while they started to use the cream to help their scars, they’ve noticed it also helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles. “I am very pleased that I gave this cream a try after spending money on other scar creams that did absolutely nothing,” wrote one reviewer. “This cream is smooth, soft, smells good, and works. I have been using it for about one year and have seen a tremendous change in the fading and disappearance of my scar. I recently bought another jar. I use it on my neck, chest and face. The cream moisturizing effect keeps my face supple and soft. There is no overpowering smell.”

Skin Care for Scars

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Best for Body: Cicatricure Scar Gel

SHOP NOW: $12 (ORIGINALLY $20); AMAZON.COM

While this Cicatricure scar cream can minimize the look of scars on both your face and body, most customers say they use it on their body. Not only will it reduce a scar’s coloration, but it also works to improve its texture. To see the best results, the brand recommends applying the cream four times a day for eight weeks, and for older scars, you should apply it three times a day for up to six months. “It is amazing,” said one shopper. “I have scars from a liver surgery that just wouldn’t go away. I’ve been using this product since the day I received it. Within the first week, the scars are fading away. I wish I would’ve taken a ‘before’ picture so you could judge for yourself with evidence. I would highly — I mean highly — recommend this product for anyone with scars that have gotten dark.”  

Skin Care for Scars

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Best for After Surgery: ScarAway Medical-Grade Silicone Scar Sheets

SHOP NOW: $18; AMAZON.COM

Unlike the gel and cream options on this list, this innovative product by ScarAway uses silicone sheets to minimize the appearance of scars. The breathable sheets not only help hydrate and soften the scar, but they also protect it from outside elements. The durable pads are self-adhesive, reusable, and can be worn for up to 24 hours at a time. “This product is amazing,” wrote one shopper. “I had gotten surgery on my wrist, and two weeks later started to use the scarway. It was looking like I was going to have a nasty bubbling scar, and just within two weeks, I’ve noticed a difference! The scar now is flat and barely visible. I’m on the patch now. My skin after surgery is very sensitive, and the patch gives it extra protection. So easy to use!

Skin Care for Scars

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Best for Burns: MD Performance Ultimate Scar Formula

SHOP NOW: $27; AMAZON.COM

This scar cream from MD Performance works on multiple types of scars, including scars from surgery, injuries, and acne, but many Amazon shoppers say they used it to reduce the appearance of burn scars. The dermatologist-formulated cream should be applied two times a day, and the brand says you should see results in 12 to 16 weeks. “I had a pretty gnarly scar on my thigh from a bad burn,” said one customer. “I wasn’t expecting much, given the size and depth of the scar, but holy cow, did this wind up fading my scar tremendously! It is pricey and the tube is small, but you don’t need to use much to see results. WELL worth the money.”

Skin Care for Scars

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Best for Old Scars: Cutie Academy Scar Removal Gel Ointment

SHOP NOW: $20 (ORIGINALLY $28); AMAZON.COM

If you’re looking to improve the appearance of older scars, check out this scar cream by Cutie Academy. Amazon shoppers say it worked wonders on their scars, noting that it not only helped lighten them but also smoothed out their texture. The popular cream is full of powerful ingredients like ginseng, glycerin, centella asiatica, and allantoin, and it can be used on even the most sensitive of skin. “I bought this product to work on 10-year-old scars,” said one customer. “I was admittedly skeptical, but desperate. I’ve only been using the product about a month, and in comparison to the initial ‘Day Zero’ pictures I took, it’s definitely working. It will likely take a few more tubes of product to achieve total clearing of the scars, but I am excited with the progress so far.”

Skin Care for Scars

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Best for Kids: Mederma for Kids

SHOP NOW: $16 (ORIGINALLY $20); AMAZON.COM

This kid-friendly scar cream by Mederma minimizes scars by increasing collagen production and cell renewal as well as hydrating and moisturizing the scar. While it dries clear, the cream rubs on purple, so little ones can see exactly where they’re applying the product. Plus, it boasts a kid-friendly scent, so you don’t have to worry about your child complaining about the smell. One shopper called it a “wonder cream” before adding, “This stuff is amazing. It’s unreal how it just makes the scar disappear. My daughter got bit by a dog. It left a huge bite wound and scar. It literally disappeared after about four weeks.”

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