Background: Few data are available regarding the psychological impact of scars arising from routine elective/aesthetic surgical procedures. To gain insight into both patients’ and clinicians’ concerns, the authors have undertaken structured semiquantitative surveys of (1) patients who had recently undergone a routine surgical procedure and (2) a cohort of plastic and aesthetic dermatological surgeons.
Methods: All selected patients had undergone a surgical procedure within 6 to 24 months before survey and had a scar(s) that caused concern. Participants completed a previously validated Self Completion Form that aimed to investigate their concerns. Clinicians were surveyed via telephone interviews using a similar format of questionnaire but with questions tailored to clinicians.
Results: Ninety-seven patients and 24 clinicians were interviewed. Patients were dissatisfied with scars resulting from surgery, irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, or geographical location, and 91 percent would value even small improvements in scarring. Patients had scar(s) that they wished were less noticeable over a wide range of body sites (both “visible” and “nonvisible”). Male and female respondents had similar rates of dissatisfaction about their own scars. The survey revealed issues in the communication between patients and clinicians regarding scars; 71 percent of patients felt that they were more concerned than their surgeon about the scar resulting from a recent surgical procedure.
Conclusions: This preliminary study indicates that patients are highly concerned about scarring following routine surgery, with most patients valuing any improvement in scarring. These data also show that there are disparities in patient-clinician communication regarding expectations following surgery.