People with facial scars rate their appearance worse than surgeons, strangers: Study

new Delhi: According to a new study led by the University of Pennsylvania, people who have had facial surgery think their surgical scars look worse than those of surgeons and independent observers.

The study was published in the journal Facial Plastic Surgery and Aesthetic Medicine. The researchers said surgeons should explain to their patients in detail how their scars will look after surgery and clearly tell their patients that they themselves consider their own scars to be more important than others.

Eighty-one patients who had facial skin cancer and then received Mohs micrographic surgery (a type of precision skin surgery where layers of skin are removed a little at a time) one week after surgery and then three Evaluated my marks months later. While their feelings about their scars improved by about 40 percent from the first week to the three-month mark, they still rated their scars more critically than surgeons and independent observers after three months.

“Our research supports the adage that ‘we are our own worst critics,'” said senior author Joseph F. Sobanco, MD, director of Dermatologic Surgery Education and an associate professor of dermatology at Penn.

“Patients are probably going to see scars on their faces as more serious than their own surgeons and even someone walking down the street,” he continued.

“Armed with that knowledge, surgeons should talk to their patients not only about the surgical procedure, but also what to expect during the healing process and what their face will look like once the incision has fully healed,” They said.

“As surgeons our goal should be to remove cancer effectively while minimizing scarring,” Sobanco said.

“Nevertheless, skin cancer surgery will produce highly visible changes in the treatment process and our job as surgeons is to prepare patients for what their skin will look like during the healing process. We also need to be direct with our patients and tell them that they are going to be most important to their appearance,” he concluded.

The Penn researchers made very specific choices when designing the study. The team decided to use facial stains because of the apparently personal relationship with people’s faces. Previous research by Sobanko and colleagues has shown that people are most sensitive to scars on their faces compared to scars on other parts of their bodies. Researchers also opted to assess participants at the one-week mark and at the three-month mark.

“In a week, the incisions from the surgery are quite visible, and this can be very distressing for patients,” Sobanco said.

“The incisions are predictable as the week progresses and our prior research has shown that most patients return to their baseline quality of life about 3 months after surgery,” he said.

While the advice is for providers to be honest, and frank about scarring with their patients, Sobanco and his team plan to study specific ways surgeons can help patients feel better about their surgical marks. can help.

“One of the approaches we have used in our practice is to connect people interested in undergoing Mohs facial surgery with individuals who have already undergone surgery,” Sobanko said.

“Unsurprisingly, our patients appreciate the opportunity to ask questions from someone who has experienced what they are going through and also see how someone else’s face healed. We are excited to do the study.” whether that and other interventions can ease patients’ minds and help them feel better about the whole experience of surgery,” he concluded.


First published:March 17, 2022, 3:37 PM

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