Scar Prevention Part 3- Taping

Published on August 12, 2014

Semi-occlusive dressings have been shown in multiple studies to be associated with improved scar appearance.  This can be acheived in a variety of ways, most notably, the practice of taping over incisions.  The reason taping improves scar appearance is not well understood, but thought to keep scars hydrated and decrease tension across wounds.  More recent data shows that there are small nerve fibers in scars that can sense pressure and tension.  When tension is sensed by these fibers, neurotransmitters are released that ultimately lead to changes in the architecture of scars and worsens their appearance.  Taping acts to shield a scar from activation of these fibers, decreases wound tension, and keeps the scar hydrated.  Regardless of the mechanism, prolonged taping of an incision has been shown to improve the scar quality.  Other recent data shows atleast equivalence to silicone-based gels/ sheeting.  Silicone-based preparations can be very expensive, wheras, a roll of paper tape sells for about $3.00 at Amazon. This data is not widely publicized, as the market for “scar creams” is a multi-million dollar affair.  No company gets rich on $3.00 rolls of paper tape.  In the end, I generally recommend the simple act of taping incisions for 6 weeks after surgical procedures.  More to come…

Yagmur, Caglayan, et al. “Mechanical receptor-related mechanisms in scar management: a review and hypothesis.” Plastic and reconstructive surgery 126.2 (2010):426-434.

Tollefson, Travis T, et al. “Comparison of effectiveness of silicone gel sheeting with microporous paper tape in the prevention of hypertrophic scarring in a rabbit model.” Archives of facial plastic surgery 14.1 (2012):45-51.