What Type of Scars to Expect After You Get a Tummy Tuck
What Is a Tummy Tuck?
In the world of cosmetic surgery, a tummy tuck is referred to as “abdominoplasty,” which is an operational procedure designed to make the abdomen flatter and more firm. When a cosmetic surgeon performs abdominoplastic surgery, he or she removes excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen. By removing skin and fat from these areas, the muscle and fibrous tissue of the abdominal wall become lighter, thus eliminating the sagging skin formerly seen in the abdominal area.
Types of Tummy Tucks
There are various types of tummy tucks, each depending on the degree of skin and muscle involved. Generally, when considering a tummy tuck, the following two types of procedures are the primary considerations.
- Complete abdominoplasty: the incision is made from hip to hip just above the pubic area, and another incision is made to release the navel from the surrounding skin in order to reposition the navel.
- Partial abdominoplasty: a smaller incision than with the complete abdominoplasty, the belly button stalk is cut from the muscle, and a little liposuction is used to aid in contouring the abdominal area.
There are many variations of the tummy tuck that provide advanced enhancement of the overall look of the abdominal region. Some of the more advanced techniques include incisions that involve the upper thigh or buttocks and other areas to give the patient the most proficient results. In all of these procedures, there will be a scar as a result of the operation.
Types of Scars Associated With Tummy Tucks
While there are other risks and considerations regarding tummy tucks, the primary focus of this article is regarding the types of scars you can expect when you undergo a tummy tuck.
- Keloid scars: Keloid scars are scars that are raised scars. Keloids are scars that appear red or darker in color than the normal skin color and are formed from collagen that the body produces after the wound has healed. Anyone can suffer from keloid scars, however, this type of scar appears most often in darker-skinned people. They can be painful and sometimes so painful that they limit full mobility.
- Track marks: Track marks are caused by the suture (thread lines) used to close the tummy tuck incision.
The patient must be aware that surgical scars are permanent scars, however, most tummy tuck scars are horizontal scars located in the lower abdomen, hidden beneath what we refer to as the bikini line (that area below the belly button and just above the pubic area). The length of the incision depends on how much tissue is being removed. Expect the scar to worsen over a period of 3 to 6 months before it starts to get better. Typically, between 36 weeks to one year after surgery, the scar may become flattened, and the color will become lighter. But, know this for a fact—the scar will never completely disappear; however, after the surgical tapes are removed, there are several things that can be done to heal and minimize the scar.
Tips to Heal Tummy Tuck Scars
- Corticosteroid Injections: For keloid scars, corticosteroid injections are injected into the scar to reduce inflammation and to flatten the scar. If necessary, the injection may be repeated over a period of months, possibly two to three injections per month over a period of about six months.
- Cryotherapy: Keloid scars can be removed by cryotherapy, which is a type of therapy that involves the use of nitrogen to freeze away the scar tissue.
- Silicone Gel Sheets: Silicone gel sheets are used only on healed scars and not applied to open wounds. They are worn over scars for 12 to 24 hours a day for about two to three months. Additionally, the patient can buy silicone as an ointment and apply it to the skin to help heal their scars.
- Pressure Dressings: The idea of pressure dressings is that pressure is applied to scars in the form of a stretchy, elastic material. The dressing can be used in combination with silicone gel sheets to flatten and improve the appearance of scars over a period of 6 to 12 months.
- Healing Creams and Lotions: There are topical solutions that can be used to help ease the pain of scars. Over the counter treatments include vitamin E, Scar Fade, Medema, ScarGo, ScarFase, and Dimisil, among others.
- Surgery: Laser surgery to remove scars should be considered as a last resort to remove scars, as the surgery itself will leave a scar.
Tips to Hide Tummy Tuck Scars
- Tattoos: Of course, patients want to wait for their scars to heal completely before embarking on inscribing tattoos to place on and around the scars. Another alternative to inking permanent tattoos is using temporary tattoos over or around scars to hide them.
- Camouflage Creams and Lotions: There are commercial products designed to help hide scars. The products come in a variety of colors to match the patient’s skin tone. The product should be blended on and around scars to help hide them. If the patient has keloids (raised scars), they might want to try one of the textured products which builds layers of texture to help camouflage scars.
Tummy Tuck Caution
Whenever a surgeon cuts into your skin and into muscle, there are going to be risks. Some of these risks can be serious and life-threatening. While tummy tucks are considered safe procedures, all tummy tucks are invasive procedures that require extensive knowledge and preparation. Patients must be wise, asking as many questions as possible in order to be well informed and ready to accept and handle the risks involved with undergoing a tummy tuck procedure.
To Tummy Tuck or Not?
Have you or someone you know ever had a tummy tuck?
“What is a Tummy Tuck?” Tummy Tuck: Abdominoplasty. American Society of Plastic Surgeons, https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck. Last accessed 9/9/2017
“Tummy Tuck.” Smart Beauty Guide. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, http://www.smartbeautyguide.com/procedures/body/tummy-tuck. Last Accessed 9/9/2017
“Learn More About Tummy Tuck Surgery.” Tummy Tuck Guide. American Board of Cosmetic Surgery, http://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/procedure-learning-center/body/tummy-tuck-guide. Last accessed 9/9/2017
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Questions & Answers
What should I use on my tummy tuck scar when I tan in a tanning bed?
There are many types of scars associated with tummy tucks. Your question goes beyond the scope of this article which merely describes the types of scars to expect when you have a tummy tuck. Only your surgeon or dermatologist can effectively answer your question about what to do when you tan in a tanning bed.
© 2012 Marlene Bertrand