I’m about to have a mastectomy and need some skincare advice

<span>Illustration: Edith Pritchett/The Guardian</span>
Illustration: Edith Pritchett/The Guardian

First of all, sending lots of love during what can’t be an easy time. Your surgical team will tell you what to do straight after the operation.

“It’s important to follow their instructions,” says breast surgeon Chloe Constantinou. “After surgery, the dressings will be taken off if everything has healed, and you’ll be given advice on caring for the skin.” If you’re worried, speak to your team, but generally speaking it’s best to use a gentle cleanser that’s fragrance-free.

There will be some scarring after surgery, which affects dark skin more. “Silicone gels and gel sheets can help heal scars and reduce their size and colour,” Constantinou adds.

They’re available through your GP, hospital or in pharmacies. Other treatments include steroid injections, surgery (which runs the risk of creating new scar tissue) and using waterproof makeup to cover them. Scars are sun- sensitive, so use high-factor sunscreen.

Related: Where can I find a great spa day for less than £150?

“Nourishing oils and gentle creams can be used to improve skin texture and even help sensation return,” Constantinou says, “though you need to wait until the wound has healed. If you need radiotherapy, you shouldn’t apply anything topically until that’s over, as it could cause sensitivity.”

For the longer term, a gentle cream such as CeraVe – which contains barrier-strengthening ceramides and is fragrance free – is ideal.

Got a beauty question for Anita? Email her at beautyQandA@theguardian.com