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by Abigail Van Buren

Life-Saving Surgery Leaves Life-Changing Scar

DEAR ABBY: I was born with a very weak heart. At the age of 23, I went into heart failure and needed surgery. It has been two years since my open heart procedure, and it has changed my life for the best.

As a young, semi-attractive male, I feel insecure about my scar. I went to the beach with friends, and so many people looked at my scar I got uncomfortable and put my shirt back on for the rest of the time. I haven't gone back to the beach since. And in situations where guys go shirtless, I wear mine even over the protests of my friends.

I can't get over the scar. I feel like I'm disfigured. Any advice on how I can deal with this huge change? -- SELF-CONSCIOUS IN GEORGIA

DEAR SELF-CONSCIOUS: Because you're sensitive about the scar, perhaps you should talk to a plastic surgeon about your options in having it reduced. However, in my opinion, you are not "disfigured" -- you are ALIVE. You fought for your life and won.

Few people get through life without some "battle scars." Since you can't change the fact that it's there, consider changing the way you think about it. In a way, it's your medal of honor. Scars have been known to fade with time, and so does self-consciousness.

Read more in: Health & Safety | Friends & Neighbors