Scoliosis is a medical condition that involves the sideways curvature of the spine that causes back pain, uneven shoulder alignment and difficulty breathing. Scoliosis is one of the leading forms of spinal deformity in young adults with roughly three million new U.S. cases per year. In a majority of cases, scoliosis marked by only a slight curvature of the spine causes little to no problems and may go away as the child develops. In severe cases, when too much of a sideways curvature is present, surgical intervention may be required to prevent further medical complications. Such surgeries involve spinal fusions and require long incisions along the middle back. As with any invasive surgery, significant scarring is a likely outcome that can be managed with modern advances in topical silicone therapy
Continue reading to learn more about scoliosis and what you can do post-operatively to prevent abnormal scarring.
Scoliosis: causes, symptoms, and treatment
The exact cause of scoliosis is mostly unknown by doctors, qualifying it as an idiopathic disease for which no accurate explanation can currently be provided. Sometimes, the disease arises as a result of cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy, but for patients without these disorders, scoliosis forms during early development and prepubescent stages. During a childhood growth spurt, the spine should align itself in a vertical fashion down the middle of the back. With scoliosis patients, the spine takes a horizontal path and creates a side-to-side C or S-shaped pattern. Usually, there are no visible signs of scoliosis if only a mild curvature is present. But when the curvature is more exaggerated, there will likely be some detectable deformities in the back and shoulders.
Symptoms of patients with severe scoliosis may include back pain, uneven shoulder alignment, and difficulty breathing. Lung and heart function becomes problematic in severe cases because scoliosis causes stress on the limited space of the chest cavity. Surgeons agree that when there is a 45-50 degree curvature of the spine, surgical intervention is the best option to reduce the curve and lessen these symptoms. Surgery is usually a success and modern medical advances make it possible for surgeons to reduce the curve in severe scoliosis to less than 25 degrees. The smaller curves that are achieved after surgery are barely noticeable and help to alleviate many of the symptoms associated with scoliosis.
The objective of scoliosis surgery is to fuse the vertebrae to the spine to straighten the spinal column and prevent further curvature. Depending on the technique used, a surgeon may have to make a large incision site along the middle back to access the spinal column. Once the spinal column is exposed, your surgeon will perform a spinal fusion. Spinal fusions involve removal of the joints between the vertebrae to loosen the back. Next, the surgeon will insert specialized screws into each vertebra. A wire is then fed through each screw head to straighten out the spine. To ensure scoliosis doesn’t return, the surgeon will use a bone graft to fuse the bone, screws, and wire together. Surgieries take anywhere from four to six hours and success rates are very high.
Recovery time varies among scoliosis patients, but normal activities may be resumed after six to twelve weeks following surgery. It’s important to follow the instructions of your surgeon to optimize your recovery before engaging in strenuous exercises or work-related tasks. One aspect of recovery that often gets overlooked by surgeons is the cosmetic appearance of the patient’s scar following the operation. Incisions that are made during the surgery can measure almost the entire length of the middle back. For patients who are predisposed to keloids and hypertrophic scar
formations, such incisions can yield unwanted results.
The best topical solutions for scars attained from surgeries are silicone gel sheeting
and silicone scar sticks
to reduce the height and discoloration of the scar. Medical silicone for the reduction and prevention of significant scar types emerged over 30 years ago. Numerous clinical studies
confirm the efficacy of silicone gel sheeting and patient results are satisfactory. Silicone gel works through the mechanisms of dermal hydration
and collagen regulation
to flatten, soften, and reduce the discoloration of abnormal scar types. Before resorting to costly cosmetic procedures, silicone gel for scar management should be your first option in fighting aggressive scars.