Horse Journal OnCall: Can I Minimize the Chance of a Scar?

This horse's injury was deep enough to get into the muscles.
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This horse's injury was deep enough to get into the muscles.

I have a mare that ripped her shoulder open a few weeks ago. It even ripped the muscle down underneath. I called the veterinarian out immediately and rinsed it out with Banixx while I waited. It wasn't bleeding anymore and hadn't bled much when it happened (I didn't see it happen, but she didn't have much blood on her).

This was a deep injury, involving the muscle.

This was a deep injury, involving the muscle.

The veterinarian put four stitches on each side and left it open in the middle to drain. She said it had to heal from the inside out so not to put anything on it. She told me to rinse it with a diluted Betadine solution.

A week later the stitches were taken out. The veterinarian said it should heal fine and the open area would shrink but would leave a scar. She's not a show horse, but it would still be nice to avoid a scar if possible.

I have included a picture of it after it was stitched up. It has finished draining and is scabbed over now. I've had horses for eight years and this is the worst injury I've had so I guess I'm doing pretty good!

Contributing Veterinary Editor Deb M. Edredge, DVM, responds:

First, this wound should heal up nicely. I expect the scar will shrink with time. How obvious the scar will be can depend on a couple of things. Is your mare's coat tight and short? Or does she carry a slightly longer coat? Most mustangs I have met have the slightly longer coat. If so, the coat alone may cover it quickly. 

There are no "miracle" scar removers. However, keeping the skin of the scar soft and supple can help with healing and does seem to reduce the size of the scar. Vitamin E is one way to help. Simply prick the end of a Vitamin E capsule with a pin and gently squeeze the oil on the scar. Rub it in lightly. I would do that once a day for a month. 

Other important factors - make sure you keep flies away from the area. Any rubbing will tend to make the scarring worse. Apply sun lotion to the area if the hair does not cover it. Sunburn will also aggravate a healing scar. If my Arab gelding was still alive I would show you the tiny scar left over on him from a much worse wound. So there is hope!

Deb M. Eldredge, DVM , Contributing Veterinary Editor