Scarring is inevitable after a tummy tuck or any other surgical procedure where incisions are made. Different individuals have different types and sizes of scars depending on their body’s healing ability, speed of recovery, skin tone, and genetics, among other factors. Most plastic surgeons leverage advanced surgical techniques in order to minimize the size and shape of scars. While there is nothing the patient can do to avoid scars after a tummy tuck, this article offers 9 distinct tips for an optimal, pleasing outcome.
Watch out for infection
An infection after surgery can put your health at risk and wreak havoc on your recovery progress. It is crucial that you clean your incisions daily to lower the risk of injection. Your doctor will also ask you to immediately get in touch with him should you notice the following symptoms:
- Significant bleeding along your incision lines
- Severe pain that does not respond to your prescribed medication
- Severe redness, bruising, or swelling that won’t get better
- Any greenish or yellowish drainage from your incision sites
- Any loss of motion or feeling
- Chills or fever
- An oral temperature that exceeds 38°C
Follow-up care instructions
It is very important that you follow your doctor’s post-operative instructions in order to ensure an optimal tummy tuck recovery. Among other things, you may be asked to:
- Try to walk as soon as you can after surgery. This helps improve blood flow, reducing swelling, and lowering the risk of blood clots.
- Refrain from smoking for a minimum of 6 weeks after your abdominoplasty. Cigarette smoke and other tobacco products can increase your risk of complications and actually impair healing.
- Follow a healthy diet – surgery is traumatic in nature. Your body will need a lot of healthy nutrients to recovery optimally. Make sure you are supplied with a lot of healthy fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and fiber-rich options.
- Stay hydrated – keep your body hydrated to ensure optimal healing of wounds. Avoid carbonated beverages and focus on water and other healthy drinks.
- Refrain from lifting any heavy items for at least 6 weeks. This is important so you can avoid injury to your incision sites.
Avoid any stretching, bending, or any other movements that can apply pressure on your abdomen. Sexual activity should also be avoided for at least 3 weeks following abdominoplasty surgery.
Apply Vitamin E cream
Vitamin E is believed to improve the appearance of scars. Furthermore, it keeps your skin moisturized, which can go a long way to minimize the formation of scars. Keep in mind that you should only apply Vitamin E or any other topical creams after the incisions have fully healed. Also, make sure to only use pure Vitamin E oil. Most skin care specialists recommend that you moisturize with Vitamin E at least once daily over the first few months after the surgery. You should discontinue the use of Vitamin E if you experience any allergic reaction or skin irritation.
Apply silicone scar treatments
This is one of the most important tips for tummy tuck scars treatment. Most plastic surgeons in fact recommend the use of silicone scar treatment. This should however only be done once the incision has fully healed and is no longer covered by scabs. Some of the most popular scar treatments include silicone gels, creams, or sheeting. Numerous studies have established the effectiveness of these products.
Cover up with sunscreen
Your doctor may ask that you keep the treatment area away from the sunlight and in fact apply sunscreen for at least a year post-surgery. This is because sars are made of new skin and may react differently when exposed to the skin. Using sunscreen is a good safeguard to make sure that your scar and surrounding skin does not darken. Go for a sunscreen product of at least SPF 30.
Steroids (applied or injected) can help alleviate the appearance of thick, raised, and red scars. This treatment can be applied at the time of the surgery in order to prevent scar formation or four weeks after the procedure to correct a forming scar. The cost of steroid treatments can vary from one patient to the other depending on the severity and size of the scarring. Most patients can expect to pay a few hundred dollars for this treatment.
Plastic surgeons have a number of laser treatment options at their disposal. Vascular laser is a type of treatment that collapses the tiny blood vessels that cause redness on the surface of the skin. Laser surfacing is another popular treatment that aims to enhance the texture and color of tummy tuck scars. This treatment promotes the formation of healthy collagen so that the scarred skin can be replaced with new skin, improving the appearance of the scar.
Surgical scar revision
Surgical revision may be a choice for patients who are looking to reduce the appearance of their scarring as much as possible. Plastic surgeons often use a combination of minimally invasive procedures, topical treatments, and surgical revision. The goal here is to make an existing scar less noticeable. Your doctor will ask that you wait until after a year before you consider surgical scar revision.
This is a special scar treatment method where doctors aim to get rid of the scar and replace it with a plug of new skin. The new skin plugs are usually borrowed from behind the ear lobe. They will then be taped into place for around 7 days to promote healing. While this treatment method procedures a new scar, it will be less visible than the previous one. Punch grafting is not commonly used for the treatment of tummy tuck scars but may offer relief for some patients.
Tummy tuck scars FAQs
Where will my abdominoplasty scars be located?
The nature, severity, and precise location of your tummy tuck scars will be influenced by the type of procedure you have had. Typically – though – most patients have tummy tuck scars in their lower abdomen area, just below their belly button and above the pubis. Scars tend to run horizontally but may also be curved or zigzagged. Most plastic surgeons make sure to place the scar below the waist-line or belt-line area. Some patients will have a vertical scar running from their pubis to their navel area.
How do tummy tuck scars look like?
Many patients who are considering abdominoplasty are concerned about the appearance of their surgical scar. Your scar will be influenced by the placement of your incisions, and how the incisions healed during recovery. It is important that you take the utmost care of your incisions during recovery in order to ensure that everything turns out great. Your doctor will ask that you quit smoking, watch out for infections, and avoid straining the treatment area. For most patients, the resulting scar is normal and not a cause for concern.
How long do tummy tuck scars last?
Your tummy tuck scar will be mostly healed within 3 months but may take up to 12 months to fully heal. By this time, most patients notice that the scar is well faded and is hardly noticeable below the waistline. Should you have any concerns over the appearance of your scar after one year, talk to your plastic surgeon for further options. Scar treatment such as laser and surgical revision can help attain the cosmetic outcome you are looking for.
Will I be able to hide my scar under a swimsuit?
Most tummy tuck patients have a horizontal tummy tuck scar that is well concealed below underwear or swimsuits. If you had a vertical scar, it may be harder to conceal it while you’re at the pool. Your plastic surgeons can recommend measures to make sure that it is as less noticeable as possible.
What are the best scar creams to use?
Silicone scar care products have been proved to work by multiple studies. These products work by creating a protective layer right above the scar. This prevents water loss and the damaged skin uses the retained moisture to heal. There are numerous of these products available in the market, including creams, gels, and sheets. Your plastic surgeon should be able to help you pick the right product based on the nature of your scarring.