Surgical scars mar patient perception, satisfaction

October 2, 2007

Belmont, Australia - New research suggests that patients’ feelings about their scars significantly influence their long-term satisfaction with skin cancer surgery, HealthDay News reports.

Belmont, Australia - New research suggests that patients’ feelings about their scars significantly influence their long-term satisfaction with skin cancer surgery, HealthDay News reports.

Researchers at the Skin Alert Skin Cancer Clinics evaluated 576 patients who had undergone skin cancer surgery that resulted in a sutured wound, and assessed each patient’s level of satisfaction up to three years after the procedure. The research team found that 2.4 percent of patients gave their surgical scar a rating of poor or worse, while 43 percent rated it as excellent. About 27 percent of patients were negative or neutral about surgical scars on the torso, while 5 percent were negative or neutral about their head or neck scars.

A scar’s appearance, cost and other issues caused the most dissatisfaction, the study indicates. Eighty-five percent of those who ranked scars as good or worse gave their surgical services top ratings, versus 99 percent of those who ranked scars as good or excellent. No patients viewed the results of their surgery as poor, while 0.5 percent ranked results as fair and 68 percent as excellent.

The study notes that patients’ views of scars were not affected by sex, age, type of closure or diagnosis.

“Complications and patient complaints do not identify patient dissatisfaction from cutaneous surgery,” the authors write. “The patients’ perception of their scars markedly influences their overall service perception.”

The study appears in the September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.