Mended Hearts Open Forum

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Open heart surgery

  • 1.  Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-07-2020 11:27
    Hi,

    I'm scheduled for OHS on February 28th to repair an ascending aortic aneurism. Can anyone tell me how the scar on
    your sternum healed over time, and if it got more pale as time went on?​

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    Scott Woodward
    QA Assistant
    Northrop Grumman
    San Ramon CA
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  • 2.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-08-2020 08:23
    Hi Scott,
    I had open heart surgery exactly one year ago today! The scar definitely heals very quickly. Mine is much lighter today after one year. They use a surgical glue which is fascinating. It just flakes off and you don’t have the staple marks like they used to use. They used to call us the “zipper club” but I suppose now it’s just the “straight line club”. An important thing to remember is to keep the scar very very clean. A previous OHS patient and now friend gave me a very good anti-septic skin cleanser to use on the scar daily once you get home. It is called Hibiclens and I highly recommend it.

    I wish you all the best on your surgery on February 28. Everyone handles these procedures differently. Be patient with yourself and trust in your medical team. Remember, you are your biggest advocate. What you experience is exactly that: your experience. I also listened to guided meditations for surgery recovery before and after survey. I wish I had taken more time before to prepare mentally. I only started listening the day before my surgery. There are some great guided meditations on YouTube that did help me afterward. Take good care!




  • 3.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-08-2020 14:47
    Jill,
    I'm glad your scar healed up nicely. My surgeon said he uses dissolvable stitches I will ask again about it at the pre-op appointment along with the glue. Yes, they say to keep it dry, and clean. I have used Hibiclens. In fact, they want me to use it the night before, and morning of surgery. Thanks for the wishes on the surgery. I hope, and pray the surgery and recovery will be successful. Since I'm a man of God, I know God will see me through it along with prayers. So, we will see how it all plays out.

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    Scott Woodward
    QA Assistant
    Northrop Grumman
    San Ramon CA
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-08-2020 08:56
    I am only 6 months out from OHS, my scar is still dark, and not really nice looking but that is not a consequence for me.  I hope you hear from others who may help you out better then I can





  • 5.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-08-2020 11:45
    Mary,
    I was reading it can take up to two years to start getting lighter. But the everyone is different in the healing process.

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    Scott Woodward
    QA Assistant
    Northrop Grumman
    San Ramon CA
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-08-2020 13:08
    Hello Scott,
    As you have read the scar can take time to fade. Not to worry you but my scar turned keloid after my surgery and after a year of dealing with a red, raw feeling scar that itched constantly I had corrective surgery to redo the scar. 90 percent of it healed nicely and feels much better. I still have a small section mid sternum that bothers me. 
    Now, aren't you glad you asked this question? (ha,ha)  I don't want to alarm you but you need to know before going into this that you could have some issues with the healing.
     As noted before by all the others we all heal differently and it varies from individual. I hope all goes well and that you do not have a keloid scar.
    Richard Short 
    Chapter 395






  • 7.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-08-2020 13:46
    Because of a womans chest differences, we may have problems that men don't have with the sternum scar healing. 
    My surgeon told me that the moistness that is caused by the breast tissue may cause problems like yeast infections and improper healing in many cases
    Proper attention to cleaning and staying dry are very important for scar healing





  • 8.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-09-2020 11:20

    Scott,

     

    I was 72 years old when I had 4xCABG in March of 2015. About a month after surgery, I was is a drug store and noticed scar medications on the top shelf.  Three brands and three different prices. Not knowing if they actually worked or not, I picked the mid-priced brand and started using it twice a day. This medication dried into a clear film over the scar. Each day I would peal off the film, wash the scar and do it over again. I used that medication for about two months, but as the hair on my chest started growing back out, it wasn't any fun pealing off that film. Next I tried the expensive brand and it soaked into the skin without forming a film so I continued with it for another two months. Then I tried the cheap brand for another two months.

     

    So all together, I used those scar medications for about six months. Right now, someone in a locker room about 8-10 feet away from me would probably not even notice my scar unless they were looking for it. It is that light. For my own peace of mind, it was well worth the time and cost.  But everyone is different so best wishes to you on your surgery.  I hope your recovery is as good as mine was.

     

    Ray Steck






  • 9.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-10-2020 04:59
    Scott and Ray,

    I never used any scar medication and I let the scar heal naturally.  Now, two years post surgery, it is a thin, pale line that is barely visible, especially camouflaged by some, but not a lot, of chest hair.  I used to get excited that I would be able to tell all sorts of hair raising stories if people asked me about the scar while on the beach or in a locker room (bear attacks, knife fights, etc), but I now realize that they'd have to stick their faces to within a foot of my chest to even notice it at all.  What a disappointment.

    Other people on the site, however, will tell you the stories of their keloid scars and the troubles their scars gave them.  My brother, for example, has a nasty looking keloid scar running down one of his legs.  The bottom line is that everyone heals differently, but you can pretty much tell in advance how yours might heal if you've ever been scarred before your heart surgery, as I had been (and my prior scars were from traumatic injury and not nearly as clean as surgical scars and none of them formed keloids).  Your "zipper" scar likely will heal the same way as your prior scars healed.

    Best of luck,

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 10.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-10-2020 08:14
    Ray,
    It's great to know your scar healed up nicely from those medications. Like Ira was mentioning earlier, if you have healed up from some other surgical scars,
    or traumatic scars nicely, the chances are your scar from surgery may heal the same looking more white and pale over time. My wife also said it can depend
    on how well the surgeon stitches you up after the surgery. My surgeon said he uses dissolvable stitches.

    Scott Woodward​

    ------------------------------
    Scott Woodward
    QA Assistant
    Northrop Grumman
    San Ramon CA
    ------------------------------



  • 11.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-10-2020 10:47
    I haven't had open heart surgery, but after a hysterectomy (open, not laparascopic, leaving a 10" scar) and later a breast reduction (2 scars 12" each, plus 4 small ones) I used aloe vera gel on the incision sites and was happy with the results. It improved the appearance of the scars and also kept the incision sites less rigid and more comfortable. Aloe vera gel is fairly inexpensive. Might be worth a try.

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    Jean McMillan
    TN
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  • 12.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-23-2020 11:44

    n

    Hi Scott,
        I may have mentioned to you before about my OH surgeries regarding the scar and sternum, But I add my two cents to your question.
    Its amazing the strides made in cardiac surgery! In 1969 there was bupkiss on dissolving stitches or surgical glue. I am quite sure they put my sternum back together with a rivet gun!
       Your God, as you perceive him or her, is a great source of comfort and healing.
        Your scar will probably itch like crazy, a sign of healing, so the lotion of your choice will help sooth that. Your sternum will be, (might be ) sore for quite a while, but its worth the lifesaving surgery. The classic, if not overused expression, "Time heals all wounds? " Yep it is so true of the healing of your sternum, but think whats it will go through!
        Please let us know how it goes, and let us offer any help we can. You are not alone.
    In peace
    Ken

    ------------------------------
    ken levine
    volunteer, retired
    802-236-8186
    kenpaullevine@gmail.com
    Middlebury, Vermont
    05753
    United States of America
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  • 13.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-24-2020 07:40
    Scott, when it comes to the scar, I stumbled on this. I'll have a similar sized scar. It inspired me. https://www.theplayerstribune.com/en-us/articles/jeff-green-the-scar?fbclid=IwAR15qy15GmGYmPlwK21DjhPVNOvfnhJ-WekXDojN7ELpJNNh-2Slnxw08X0

    Best,
    Herb

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    Herb Greenberg
    San Diego CA
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  • 14.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-24-2020 14:17
    wonderful article Herb...Thank you





  • 15.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 09:29
    Great piece, Herb.  Jeff Green isn't the only professional athlete either with a scar.! I understand the Aaron Boone, manager of the NY Yankees, had OHS to repair a CHD and Carmine Basilio, the great welterweight champ in the 1950's and Boxing Hall if Famer had bypass surgery (although he was older and retired at the time).

    As for me, I use ever opportunity I have to lie or brag about my scars (shark attack, wolves, shrapnel wounds, Lakota sun ceremony.  About the only thing I haven't claimed yet is that they were the result of a thwarted velociraptor attack, but I'm sure that there's someone out their who'll believe that claim if I ever make it.

    All the best in having fun laughing at our experiences.

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 16.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 09:36
    Hi Ira, yeah - Chris Wilcox and many more. Dr. Svensson said he has done many more in the NBA, NFL who don't want their names disclosed.

    As for humor - I know it's easy sitting here painless on this side of it to think you'll be able to handle it, but I told my wife I seriously hope I don't entirely lose my sense of humor on the other side, especially in the early days. It has served me well in the past. But nausea, aFib, plural effusion (that needle scares the hell out of me) and all sorts of other ailments can easily get in the way, I'm sure.

    T-minus 8 days and counting...

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    Herb Greenberg
    San Diego CA
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  • 17.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 09:51
    Good luck, brother, and, no, you don't have to lose your sense of humor right after the surgery.  When I was in inpatient rehab, recovering from not only the OHS but also pneumonia, a guy in my group who had just received a total knee replacement asked the physical therapist why I was able to move faster than him.  She responded by saying that our injuries were different with different recovery responses, to which I replied (being a lifetime wiseass) "yeah, they had to cut my heart out." Said the physical therapist, "they did not cut your heart out." We all had a hearty laugh and mine didn't even hurt.

    Best,

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 18.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 09:58
    Thanks, Art! I'll keep that in mind ;-)
    Though from what you have all taught me I will want to hold the pillow close if I laugh. 😱😬

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    Herb Greenberg
    San Diego CA
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  • 19.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 10:09
    You are 2 for 2 this morning Ira....wonderful story

    I remember also in Rehab someone asked me how I was
    doing with the exercises and movements, and I said, 
    " I am doing great, I just got a new heart", 
    and the nurses were like
    " Pooh pooh, You did NOT get a new heart" and I
    realized that my attitude about my heart was more important
    to my recovery then the actuality of the scope of the repair.

    I still in my mind think I got a new heart, a new chance at changing my attitudes and way of life.  This thinking is not deluded, it is very life affirming to me.

    M





  • 20.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 10:24
    Mary, the way I'm viewing is that that I'm getting my heart and its accessories repaired. But it's like a new heart b/c the repair extends your life - or helps yo avoid heart failure, dissection and/or everything that goes with it. It's all semantics! ;-)

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    Herb Greenberg
    San Diego CA
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  • 21.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 10:31
    We're all tin men and women, Mary, and we all now have a heart.

    Nice to have you to laugh with my friend.

    Ira

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    Ira Reid
    Hoboken NJ
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  • 22.  RE: Open heart surgery

    Posted 02-25-2020 15:24


    Mary, ira, et all.
    Sense of humor is prime ! In 1976, when I was 21, my aortic valve, in fact that model valve was defective and it failed after 5 years .
    4 and a half years before that I was told I had to get a replacement valve

    I looked at the surgeon,  smirking,  and said, " so what you are saying is that I'm being recalled like a f=÷×+ing PINTO? !

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone