Brain aneurysm surgery may leave a scar on the scalp where the surgeon makes an incision. The scar will heal and diminish over time.

The type of scar people have after brain aneurysm surgery may vary depending on the type of surgery they undergo. Over time, the scar will flatten and lose its redness.

This article discusses brain aneurysm surgery scars, how they look, how to adjust to them, scar reduction, and more.

A collage showing a brain aneurysm surgery scar. -2Share on Pinterest
Design by MNT; Photography by whitemay/Getty Images

People may have a craniotomy to treat a brain aneurysm. During this procedure, a surgeon creates a small hole in the skull to operate on the aneurysm.

Brain surgery for an aneurysm may leave a scar. The location of the scar will depend on the affected area of the brain and the type of surgery people have.

The scar may run behind the hairline, from the scalp to the ear, or as a question mark on the back or side of the scalp.

People may have an indentation or lump in the skull from the surgical bone flap. The surgical scar may appear raised and red and feel hard for around 6 weeks after surgery.

In the months after surgery, most surgical scars will heal and become a flat white line on the scalp. The scar may not completely go away, but it will fade into the surrounding skin.

The time it takes for a scar to heal may differ for each person, but in many cases, a scar will flatten and soften within 6 months after surgery.

As the scar heals, people may choose to leave their heads uncovered, or they may choose to wear a loose hat or scarf to cover the scar.

People may have hair loss and whitening of the scalp over the site of the scar. Over time, which may be several months, the hair will grow back.

Brain aneurysm surgical scars may look different for each person, depending on where the incision is and the type of surgery people had.

The following pictures are examples of what a brain aneurysm surgical scar may look like.

It may take time to adjust to having a surgical scar. People may find the following helpful:

  • As the scar heals, it may feel numb, itchy, or painful. People can talk with a healthcare professional about pain medications to help ease discomfort.
  • If a scar is causing any emotional or psychological distress, a person may wish to speak with a healthcare or mental health professional about getting psychological support.
  • People may want to find a support network of others with similar experiences living with surgical scars.
  • If people do not want others to see the scar, they can consider wearing a hat, scarf, or turban in public places or a wig once the scar has healed.
  • If people want to let others see the scar, they can decide how to tell people about the scar and help them understand.
  • Wearing sunscreen can help protect the scar from the sun, as sun exposure may make the scar redder and firmer.
  • If people have concerns about the way a scar looks, they should talk with a healthcare professional about ways of lessening a scar, such as massage techniques or scar creams.

As brain aneurysm surgery scars may run behind the hairline and on the scalp, a person’s hair may eventually cover it as it grows back.

However, a person may still wish to cover their scar in the meantime.

People may find the following tips helpful for covering a surgical scar once the wound has healed:

  • using camouflage makeup, which people can use specifically for covering scars
  • applying silicone gels or sheets to help flatten and soften a scar and relieve itching or discomfort
  • receiving steroid injections or steroid-impregnated tape to help reduce raised scars
  • undergoing laser or pulsed light therapy to help reduce redness in a scar

People may not be able to remove a scar, but scar revision may alter the appearance of a scar.

Scar revision refers to procedures that cosmetic surgeons use to reduce scars. These may include:

  • Topical treatments: Creams, gels, or compression tapes may assist in wound healing. They may be able to treat scar discoloration and prepare the area for other scar revision treatments.
  • Injections: People may also have dermal filler injections to reduce a scar. They work by filling in depressions in the skin where the scars are present. Steroid-based injections are also an option, and they may be able to change the appearance and texture of raised scar tissue. Results may last for 3 months or more.
  • Laser therapy: Laser or light therapy may help reduce the appearance of a scar.

People will need to follow any instructions from a healthcare professional during the recovery period.

Recovery from brain aneurysm surgery may involve the following:

  • being monitored in a hospital for several days after the surgery
  • learning breathing techniques to open the lungs and prevent pneumonia
  • elevating the head to prevent swelling
  • doing gentle exercises and leg compresses to prevent blood clots
  • once home, keeping the incision clean and dry
  • taking pain relief medication for headaches or discomfort
  • avoiding any heavy lifting and driving until a doctor gives permission

This section answers some frequently asked questions about brain aneurysms and surgery.

What are the side effects of a brain aneurysm surgery?

Side effects of brain aneurysm surgery may last from days to months and may include:

  • stiff jaw, due to a surgical cut to the muscle that supports chewing
  • swelling
  • bruising
  • pain, itching, numbness, or a feeling of cold at the incision site
  • moving of the bone flap that causes a clicking sensation, which is normal
  • headaches
  • blood clot at the site of the surgery, although this is rare

What is the life expectancy after a brain aneurysm?

Ruptured cerebral aneurysms may be fatal in around 50% of cases. Immediate medical care for a ruptured brain aneurysm may lead to full recovery.

Many people can have unruptured brain aneurysms for years without any symptoms.

Microvascular clipping resulting in a complete clipping of the blood vessel can help prevent a brain aneurysm from recurring.

This procedure involves placing a tiny metal clip across the neck of the blood vessel causing the aneurysm.

Brain aneurysm surgery may cause a scar at the incision site.

The size, location, and appearance of the scar may vary depending on the area of the brain affected and the type of surgery.

The scar will lessen over time. If people have concerns about the appearance of the scar, they can discuss ways of reducing the scar with a healthcare professional.