Tummy tuck scars are a common concern for many of our patients considering an abdominoplasty. As board-certified plastic surgeons with more than 30 years of combined experience, Dr. McFadden and Dr. Felice understand the importance of minimizing scarring and ensuring the best possible outcomes for their patients. In this article, we will address many of the concerns our patients have raised over the years.
Understanding Tummy Tuck Procedure (Abdominoplasty)
Abdominoplasty, popularly referred to as a tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgery procedure performed by our board-certified plastic surgeon to remove excess fat and skin from the midsection. It’s especially beneficial for those struggling with loose skin and stubborn fat in the abdominal area, often due to significant weight loss or post-pregnancy changes.
How are tummy tuck incisions made?
During the surgical procedure under general anesthesia, incisions are carefully made around the abdominal wall, typically from hip to hip and around the belly button, to remove excess skin and tighten abdominal muscles. The overall objective is body contouring, enhancing the waistline and leaving you with a flatter, firmer midsection.
Types of Tummy Tuck Scars
Scarring is a natural part of the healing process, and the types of tummy tuck scars you can expect depend largely on the specific kind of tummy tuck procedure you choose: full, mini, or extended.
Scars from Traditional Tummy Tucks
A traditional or full tummy tuck addresses the entire abdominal area, extending from the pubic area to above the belly button. This allows for comprehensive body contouring but leaves a longer, though usually low-lying, scar. The standard tummy tuck scar involves a hip-to-hip incision, below the navel and above the pubic area. This scar is usually easily hidden in the underwear line. A standard tummy tuck also involves creating a new navel, resulting in a small circular scar.
Scars from Mini Tummy Tucks
A mini tummy tuck focuses on the lower abdomen, specifically below the belly button. It’s a less invasive procedure, leading to a smaller scar, often hidden in the bikini line. The mini tummy tuck incision and scar are located horizontally across the lower abdomen, just above the pubic area and well concealed by most swimsuits and clothing.
Scars from Extended Tummy Tucks
Extended tummy tucks are more extensive and may include liposuction. They are designed for individuals with significant excess skin and stretch marks, extending to the back. The resulting scars are longer but follow the body’s natural contours for concealment. An extended tummy tuck requires a horizontal incision made across the lower abdomen and around the hips. Often, a vertical incision will be made as well.
What to Expect: Tummy Tuck Scars
A vital part of your tummy tuck journey involves understanding the healing process and the evolution of your scars. The healing process can be divided into two main phases: the initial healing phase and the maturation phase.
The Initial Healing Phase
After your tummy tuck surgery, the incisions will initially appear red and somewhat prominent. As the sutures heal, the redness will slowly start to fade. During this phase, it is essential to follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions and avoid activities that may hinder the healing process, such as heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, and sun exposure.
The Maturation Phase
Over several months, your scars will continue to mature and fade, becoming less noticeable. Individual healing times vary, and a scar’s final appearance may take a year or more to establish. During this phase, the scars will typically flatten and change color, progressing from deep purple to red, pink, and eventually fading to pale purple or white.
To minimize the appearance of scarring, it is essential to follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions, avoid tanning or sun exposure, and avoid tight, irritating clothing or products with harsh chemicals. In case the scars do not fade after a year, there are laser scar removal procedures and other treatments available to improve the appearance of the scars.
It is important to remember that each person’s healing process is unique, and the final appearance of the scars may vary depending on factors such as skin type, age, and the specific tummy tuck procedure chosen.
Scar Care: How to Improve Healing & Reduce Visibility
Post-operative care is crucial for reducing scar visibility. Following your surgeon’s instructions at ACS for wound care, avoiding sun exposure, and maintaining good skin care are all key factors in improving the healing process and reducing the visibility of scars.
Specific creams, gels, and silicone sheets can aid in the healing process and help improve the appearance of scars over time. Look for products containing silicone or allantoin for maximum scar healing power. These topical treatments can be applied to scars that are still pink and healing, as well as older scars, including small hypertrophic scars and small keloids.
Laser Scar Treatment
Laser scar treatment is an effective option for further reducing the visibility of tummy tuck scars. Laser treatment uses focused light therapy to either remove the outer layer of the skin or stimulate the production of new skin cells to cover damaged skin cells.
Although laser treatment cannot completely remove a scar, it can make it less noticeable by replacing one scar with another less-noticeable scar. It is important to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to determine if laser scar treatment is right for you.
Before and After: Tummy Tuck
Our collection of before and after photos of tummy tucks from our Greenville and Spartanburg clinics provide evidence of the healing process and the effective minimization of scar visibility.
Understanding Individual Differences in Scar Healing
Genetics, skin color, and lifestyle factors can all affect how your body heals and scars. Rest assured, our team provides personalized care to optimize your healing process.
Genetic variations and causative genes involved in wound healing and scarring can influence an individual’s susceptibility to scarring and the healing process. Identifying these genetic factors can help develop personalized strategies for the prevention or treatment of scars.
Skin Color and Pigmentation
Skin color and pigmentation can also affect the appearance of scars. The final look of a scar depends on many factors, including the skin type, location on the body, and the individual’s age. Abnormal pigmentation within cutaneous scars can be an undesirable consequence of the healing process.
Lifestyle factors such as nutrition, age, hygiene, medication, and obesity play a large role in the healing process. Factors like stress, sleep, smoking, alcohol consumption, and certain medications can also influence wound healing. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and addressing these factors can help improve the healing process and reduce the visibility of scars.
By considering these individual differences and providing personalized care, the healing process can be optimized, and the appearance of scars can be minimized.
Why Choose Advanced Cosmetic Surgery for Your Tummy Tuck
At Advanced Cosmetic Surgery, our board-certified plastic surgeons are experienced in a range of procedures, including tummy tucks, liposuction, breast augmentation, breast reduction, and breast lift. We also offer non-surgical treatments like Botox, fillers, and chemical peels, ensuring comprehensive cosmetic and reconstructive surgery services in South Carolina.
Our plastic surgery center, established in Greenville, SC in 2001, is AAAASF certified, providing a safe and professional environment for your procedures. Our surgeon’s expertise and dedication to personalized care ensure that you receive the best possible results tailored to your individual needs.
Choosing Advanced Cosmetic Surgery means you are entrusting your tummy tuck to a highly trained and experienced surgeon who prioritizes your safety, satisfaction, and desired outcomes. Book a consult today!
A tummy tuck is a powerful way to redefine your midsection after weight loss, pregnancy, or weight gain. While scarring is inevitable, the team at Advanced Cosmetic Surgery in Greenville, South Carolina, is dedicated to minimizing scar visibility and providing you with the care you need for the best results.
Frequently Asked Questions about Tummy Tuck Scars
What types of scars can I expect after a tummy tuck?
The types of scars you can expect after a tummy tuck depend on the specific procedure you choose: mini, full, or extended. Mini tummy tucks leave a smaller scar, often hidden in the bikini line, while full tummy tucks result in a longer, low-lying scar. Extended tummy tucks, designed for individuals with significant excess skin, result in longer scars that follow the body’s natural contours for concealment.
How long does it take for tummy tuck scars to heal?
Tummy tuck scars take a minimum of 12 months to completely mature and will usually change considerably in appearance during that time. However, some scars may take up to 18 months to fully heal and become less visible.
How can I minimize the appearance of tummy tuck scars?
To minimize the appearance of tummy tuck scars, follow your surgeon’s aftercare instructions, avoid sun exposure, and use topical treatments such as silicone sheets or gel. Additionally, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and addressing factors like stress, sleep, and smoking can help improve the healing process.
What treatments are available for tummy tuck scars that don’t fade?
If your tummy tuck scars do not fade after a year, there are laser scar removal procedures and other treatments available to improve their appearance.
Can tummy tuck scars be revised?
Yes, tummy tuck scars can be revised if they are too high, wide, or otherwise unsatisfactory. Scar revision techniques include progressive tension suturing, serial excision, and tissue expansion.
Watch Dr. McFadden discuss tummy tuck scars on our Youtube channel.