If you’re considering a tummy tuck surgery, you may be concerned about any scarring that may result from the incisions. To put your mind at ease, we will explain the areas in which you can expect scarring for each type of tummy tuck and some helpful tips on how to minimise their appearance.
Types of Tummy Tuck Incisions
All types of tummy tucks will remove excess skin from your lower abdomen, the area between your belly button and pelvis. Thus, you can expect a scar in your pelvic area along the bikini line, the length of which can range from anywhere between 4 inches to a longer incision that runs from hip to hip. The incision length will depend on the amount of excess skin in your abdomen, determining whether you require a full or mini tummy tuck or an even more invasive option.
A full tummy tuck results in some scarring around the belly button. In most cases, the belly button will still be attached to the abdominal wall during the procedure. However, in some cases, the surgeon may need to remove and reposition it to create a natural-looking result. However, any scarring around the navel is usually hidden by the natural contours of the belly button.
In less common cases, where patients have severe skin laxity as a result of drastic weight loss, a fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty may be required. This tummy tuck variation will require an additional vertical incision along the middle of the abdomen, from the rib cage down to the horizontal incision along the bikini line.
Factors That Impact Scarring
Your tummy tuck scars will vary depending on the surgical techniques required to deliver an optimal result, which your surgeon will discuss with you after examining your abdomen. The surgeon you choose can make all the difference in the appearance of your scars: surgeons skilled and experienced in the procedure are better able to conceal any scarring with the way they create the incisions, manipulate the skin, and close the sutures.
Thus, we highly recommend choosing a board-certified surgeon specialising in tummy tuck surgery to ensure you obtain the best results. Additionally, several other factors can impact scarring, including your age, diet, and following aftercare instructions.
Tummy Tuck Healing Time
It typically takes 1-2 weeks for incisions from a tummy tuck to close and begin to heal. You will receive aftercare instructions to help ensure that the wounds heal properly, which in turn helps avoid abnormal scarring.
One month after your tummy tuck, your incisions will have closed, and the healing process should be underway. Your body will increase its supply of blood and collagen to the area to help the skin heal itself. However, this may, in fact, make the scar appear darker, thicker, and more prominent at first. Therefore, your scar may appear worse before it gets better.
The six-month mark is usually when your tummy tuck scar will begin to improve in appearance. At this stage of the healing process, your wounds will have sufficiently healed so that your body begins to decrease the increased blood supply and break down the excess collagen. As a result, the scars will lighten and gradually lose their pigmentation.
After one year, your tummy tuck scar will likely have matured fully, which means it will appear significantly lighter and softer in comparison to the first few months after cosmetic surgery. However, most scars continue to fade past this point as the body still continues to break down the collagen and reduce the blood supply in the wound.
For most patients, the tummy tuck scars will be almost unnoticeable after five years of the surgery as the scar will have significantly faded and blended in with their skin colour. The scars may still continue to fade beyond this point.
Are Tummy Tuck Scars Permanent?
As with all scars, those from a tummy tuck surgery are somewhat permanent as they do not completely disappear. However, as outlined in the timeline above, the scars significantly improve over time by blending with your skin tone. As a result, most patients no longer notice them after several years. Furthermore, following the tips outlined below will significantly aid the outcome of your scars.
How to Minimise Abdominoplasty Scars
Ensure Clean Incision Sites
It’s important to clean your incision daily. Not only will keeping your tummy scar clean and healthy reduce its appearance, but it will also reduce your risk of infection. You will receive detailed instructions on how to care for your incision before surgery.
Avoid Sun Exposure
We recommend avoiding the sun completely for at least 1-2 weeks after surgery, as tummy tuck scars are very sensitive to strong sunlight and burn easily. The sun’s rays can cause pigmentation or discolouration of the scars. Additionally, you should use a very strong sunblock (SPF 30 or higher) on your scar for 18 months after your surgery.
After your dressings are removed, we recommend applying a moisturiser to your wounds to help speed up the healing process. Silicone sheets and gels are also advised as they hydrate the scar tissue and reduce collagen production, thus reducing the visibility of the scar. However, the latter should only be applied after the wounds are fully healed, which can take 3-4 weeks.
Avoid Irritating Clothes
There are specific clothes you should wear after tummy tuck. You should wear loose and breathable fabrics the first few weeks after surgery. Wearing tight and uncomfortable clothing may irritate the incisions and delay their healing. Additionally, you must wear your post-surgery compression garment, which is designed to fit you perfectly, so that it protects your incision, minimises swelling, and maintains the contouring results of your tummy tuck.
Laser treatments are minimally invasive treatments that resurface the skin to improve its appearance. By damaging the outer scar tissue, the treatment will stimulate the production of collagen, which produces new skin cells. In essence, the surgical scar will be replaced by a less visible scar that is smaller, softer, and lighter in appearance.
Is a Tummy Tuck Worth It?
A tummy tuck is a popular surgery that you may consider to be worthwhile for both aesthetic and/or functional reasons. Aesthetically, patients regain a flatter stomach and contoured abdomen. Functionally, patients notice an improvement in their physical abilities due to having a stronger core, as well as improvement in their posture and a reduction in other related ailments such as back pain.
Schedule a Consultation with CREO Clinic Today
Dr Omar Tillo, board-certified plastic surgeon and Medical Director of the CREO clinic, exclusively specialises in cosmetic procedures from the neck down, including abdominoplasty. Therefore, he has extensive experience performing the many variations of tummy tuck surgery. In particular, having performed hundreds of tummy tucks, he is adept at carefully creating and closing incisions so as to minimise scarring as much as possible.