• Chloe McElmury

Mederma vs. Bio Oil for Thyroid Cancer Scars

Updated: Mar 28

I don’t care if you have a huge scar all across your neck. I don’t care if you have a tiny scar hidden in a crease in your neck. I don’t even care if you had a surgery that was scarless and I can’t see your scar.


ALL of these options still meant you had thyroid cancer or suspected cancer that needed to come out of your body so you could be healthy and live your life. Cancer is cancer and not having the traditional thyroid cancer scar across your neck does NOT make you any less, or your cancer any less a part of the club. We are all in this together, and the community I want to continue cultivating does not have room for people who are offended or judgemental of someone’s decision to have less of a visible scar or not. Scars are just like people–each one is unique and that’s part of the beauty of cancer.


Something new I have learned about since starting all this thyroid cancer advocacy work is something called a keloid.


KELOIDS

A keloid is a raised scar that is leftover after everything has healed. It’s caused by an excess amount of protein during healing. Usually they aren’t harmful or cancerous, but you might find yours unattractive. It could be bumpy or lumpy or ridged. Sometimes a keloid can become itchy or painful. If you think you might have one, please head to a skin doctor to get it checked out and ruled out as skin cancer. There are many different methods incase you want to minimize the look of your keloid. Chat with your doctor about the best one for you. But, remember they are totally normal! Regardless of the type of scar, Massage and sunscreen are two ways to help your scar heal.


MASSAGE

The American Thyroid Association says that gentle massage can help flatten the scar tissue, creating a smoother appearance. You can use Vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, skin cream or brand-name products (such as Mederma) to lubricate the skin during massage. However, none of these moisturizers have been proven to improve scars. It is more likely that the pressure from the massage itself helps to flatten the scar. Remember to massage your scar daily for at least 2 months. Usually you can start massaging your scar about two weeks after your surgery.


SUNSCREEN

All incisions are sensitive to sunlight. The ultraviolet light of the sun and tanning booths will darken the scar area in the first year. Always use sunscreen. It is very important that all scars be protected from the sun. Scars that become sunburned will remain red and unsightly for a long time, and perhaps even permanently. It is very important to use sunscreen on all scars, especially new scars that haven’t finished maturing yet. Think of them like babies who don’t look like their final adult selves yet.


The American Thyroid Association recommends Sunblocks which contain Zinc Oxide or Titanium Dioxide. They are preferred as these physically block the sun rather than rely on chemicals to absorb UV radiation. Also, since they are not chemicals, they tend to not irritate healing incisions. I hope this doesn’t seem like a radical idea to you, but please use sunscreen and avoid tanning beds! You already had one type of cancer, why willingly give yourself another?


While we’re talking about skin cancer, I highly encourage getting a skin check with a dermatologist. I was nervous, but I went in for one because of a scar on my shoulder that seemed suspicious. It ended up being fine, just a non-cancerous lump of tissue, but they encouraged a full body check. It was actually great! During my appointment, two spots on my back were circled and photos of them were taken. Now, every year we can compare them to the old photos and see how they have changed, if at all.


SCAR PRODUCTS

Bio Oil

Bio Oil is something that I’ve heard a lot about recently, but not at the time of my original thyroidectomy or my second thyroid surgery. Bio-oil is a cosmetic oil made to reduce the appearance of scars. According to Healthline, studies show that the oil can reduce acne scars, possibly due to the high vitamin E content. However, research on the effectiveness of vitamin E in treating acne and healing scars is mixed and ultimately inconclusive. However, Bio Oil claims to work best on scars that are 3 years old or less, and are not keloid scars. Bio Oil is basically a vitamin super-oil that shows some promise in reducing scars, but it hasn’t been widely studied yet. A 2 ounce bottle will cost you a little less than $10.


Mederma

In another article from Healthline called “the 7 best scar creams” they rank Mederma’s Advanced Scar Gel as the best scar cream overall. This product claims to be the #1 doctor and pharmacist recommended brand for scars. This one is a little spendier, at about $15 for .7 of an ounce. However, Mederma is only a once a day product and Bio Oil is a twice a day application.



Personally, Mederma is what I used and I do think it made a difference. I used it fairly religiously after my two surgeries in middle and high school. It was just a clear gel that I applied everyday, or everyday that I remembered.


However, now being more than 5 years out of any surgery I had, I am a bit more lax with my scar health. I definitely could be using sunscreen more on my scars. I usually remember to at least put extra sunscreen on my scars and neck and chest area. Your skin is thinner on your chest, so it’s easier to burn.


To be honest, I usually don’t even notice my scars now. They don’t stick out to me anymore like they used to. They’ve become a piece of me and my body.


I hope this information was helpful to you! Did you use something different, or want to share your experiences with Bio Oil or Mederma? Leave a comment down below!


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