Regardless of the type of tummy tuck you underwent, scarring is inevitable. This can be concerning, especially since you probably want to show off your newly sculpted curves at the beach, by the pool, or in the bedroom. You may have plenty of questions about your tummy tuck scar. “When will it go away?” and “How can I make it look less noticeable?”. Below we will explore these inquiries and give you the best overview of what to expect after your procedure.
Stages of tummy tuck scarring
Whenever there is an incision during plastic surgery, there will be a resulting scar. Scars are the body’s natural mechanism for dealing with a wound. The healing process follows a cycle:
- Closure — The skin appears broken where the incision was placed. The body produces collagen to fill and close the wound. This is the most vulnerable time for the scar and lasts 3-4 weeks.
- Establishment — The body continues to release collagen and the skin fibers get stronger with time. Blood is funneled to the area, causing the scar to appear darker and thicker. This phase lasts 3-6 months.
- Maturity — At this final stage, there are finally enough collagen fibers at the wound and blood supply has decreased. The scar now looks lighter, thinner, and less visible. Maturity typically takes place over 1-2 years.
Abdominoplasty scar types
The type of scar that develops is based on your procedure type. However, regardless of whether you underwent a traditional full tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck, there are three areas where scarring will occur: the belly button, the lower stomach, and the pelvis.
- Belly button scar — During a traditional abdominoplasty, the belly button will experience significant changes, as it is still attached to the abdominal wall during surgery. The scar will encircle the navel, however, sometimes the skin will be tucked in such a way that the scar is undetectable. A mini tummy tuck will not cause scarring around the belly button.
- Lower stomach — These scars are situated between the navel and the pelvis. They will either be longer or shorter depending on whether you underwent a full or mini tummy tuck procedure. The scar for a conventional abdominoplasty will stretch from hip to hip.
- Pelvis — These scars can be well-hidden beneath the bikini line. The placement of these incisions can be discussed beforehand with your plastic surgeon to make sure you are happy with the final placement.
Tummy tuck scar concerns
Each tummy tuck scar will be unique and will be influenced by your skin type, age, weight, and the direction of the incision. For the first few weeks after surgery, your scar may not look very appealing but this is perfectly normal. The scars will fade soon enough.
That being said, there are a few things to look out for:
- Excessive redness or bleeding
- Excessive swelling or bruising
- Discharge from the incisions that is yellow or green in color
- Foul-smelling drainage from the incisions
These symptoms could be signs of infection. If you experience any of them or have a fever or chills, you should contact your doctor right away. Infections can lead to significant health issues as well as a poor cosmetic result.
Some of the ways you can prevent an infection from occurring include:
- Avoiding smoking at least 4 weeks before and after your procedure
- Avoiding alcohol after surgery
- Abstaining from heavy lifting and strenuous exercise for a period after surgery
- Taking antibiotics and anticoagulants as prescribed by your doctor
How can I reduce the appearance of tummy tuck scars?
- Proper care — After surgery, it’s important that you follow your surgeon’s instructions to the letter. After all, they are experts in their fields and have performed hundreds of successful procedures. You’ll need to keep your incisions as clean as possible and dress your wounds to help prevent infection.
- Ointments — You can begin using topical scar creams after the scabbing phase of healing has been completed. Ointments containing vitamin E as well as silicone can hydrate the scar and improve its appearance. Using ointments too soon in the recovery process can increase the risk of infection, however, so be sure to check in with your doctor before using any products.
- Patches — Patches made with silicone can help reduce the appearance of raised or discolored scars. These patches should be water-resistant so you can enjoy your regular routine in terms of exercising and showering.
- Laser therapy — Lasers can be used to minimize the appearance of scars. The focused light energy helps stimulate collagen production, smoothing and rejuvenating the skin. Multiple sessions may be required to achieve your scar revision goals, however.
What is the take away?
While all tummy tuck surgeries will lead to scarring, there are many ways to limit the visibility of your scars. These include discussing incision placement with your surgeon, following your doctor’s instructions carefully, and engaging in scar revision options such as ointments, laser therapy, and silicone patches. The sooner you address your scars, the sooner you can enjoy your fabulous new physique.