Comparing the Effectiveness of Popular Treatments for Swelling and Scarring

(1) GI School, Armenia, Quindio, Colombia

Swelling and scarring are expected, yet concerning, aspects of healing tissue after surgery or injury. Though many popular or specialty treatments claim to reduce swelling and scarring (e.g. Epsom salt soaks for swelling or application of commercial scar gels for scarring), it remains unknown whether these treatments are more effective than less expensive treatments (e.g. plain warm water soaks for swelling and petroleum jelly application for scarring). In this study, I compared the effectiveness of such treatments for swelling and scarring on myself after bilateral orthopedic surgery on my feet. I hypothesized that soaks in warm water with Epsom salts would reduce swelling more effectively than soaks in warm water alone. I also hypothesized that application of a commercial scar gel would yield a less visible scar over time than application of petroleum jelly. The results of this study did not support my initial hypotheses and instead suggest that there is no difference in effectiveness between each of the two swelling and scarring treatments. The results of this study highlight the importance of further and larger comparative studies on this subject, especially in a developing country such as mine, due to the widespread promotion of more expensive treatments despite equal effectiveness to less expensive treatments.

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scarring swelling healing tissue surgery
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