Location of Tummy Tuck Scars
Getting a tummy tuck or mini tummy tuck can make a big difference in the way you look and feel, but the reality is that a complete tummy tuck is going to leave some scars.
Tummy tuck scars in most instances are going to be located in the mid to lower abdomen. A vertical incision and an incision around the belly button (from hip to hip) are also necessary in some cases. These scars can be rather long and severe, depending on the situation. Skilled surgeons can strategically place incisions so that scars are easily concealable.
The extent of your tummy tuck scars are going to depend on how much skin is removed during surgery, the technique used to perform the surgery, the surgeon’s experience, and the health of your skin and its ability to heal.
Tummy Tuck Scar Healing
Scars have a red, thick and raised appearance, turning gray-purple if you are cold. The scars will get worse before they get better (they will look their worst around three months after the procedure), and they go through a series of changes before they heal. Scar healing takes several months. Scars will often appear to lighten over the first six months following surgery but then may actually become more prominent and noticeable. This is normal and often, with care, the scars will lighten again, but patients need to be prepared for this. It may be up to a year before your scars flatten and fade, but they may be quite noticeable for a year after the surgery or more. Limit cigarette smoking, as the smoke causes your skin cells to receive less oxygen negatively affecting the healing process.
Doctors may be able to advise you on ways to help speed the treatment and appearance of tummy tuck scars following surgery. Once the scar has been adequately healed and your doctor deems it safe, applying heat to the scar may help to diminish its redness over time. Aloe and olive oil can also be used to help heal scars faster after the incision is closed and your doctor approves this sort of therapy. Creams and lotions may also be prescribed by your doctor to diminish scarring.
Ask your surgeon about scar-minimizing products like silicone sheeting, as they are shown to prevent the formation of keloids (overgrowths of scar tissue that may form in some wounds, more prone to happen to people with medium to dark skin). Silicone sheeting should be used only after your wounds have closed. Some surgeons recommend patients use Steri-Strips (medical paper tape) on top of sutures and on open incisions that can help flatten and fade scars days right after surgery. Some over-the-counter creams and ointments may reduce the appearance of scars.
Dealing With Tummy Tuck Scars
Surgical Options – There are several ways, both surgical and non-surgical to treat tummy tuck scars. In cases of significant scarring or unsightly scars that are apt to become permanent, skin grafting may be the best option. Tissue expansion, in which the skin near the scar is stretched to essentially create more skin, is another approach widely used. Tissue expansion is not done in a single sitting, but takes placed over an extended period of time during which the skin is being stretched. Eventually the stretched skin is placed over the scar, and when healing is completed the scar should disappear completely. Laser resurfacing is still another option. Whichever surgical approach would be best is something usually best mutually decided upon by doctor and patient.
Whatever method is used, when it is a surgical procedure of any kind, there is going to be a healing period required. A week or two is typical for most cases of what is referred to as scar revision. Even then, it may take up to a year for a treated scar to disappear completely, though in the case of tissue expansion, scarring may disappear earlier.
Non-Surgical Options – There are a number of products on the market designed to promote the healing of tummy tuck scars. Depending upon the severity or type of scarring, seeking a doctor’s advice is advisable before trying any of these products, though most likely would do little harm. Silicon sheeting is one such product, which when placed over a scar, tends to neutralize discoloration, soften the skin, and flatten out raised scar tissue. There are also topical treatments, ingredients of which often consist of a combination of cortisone, silicon, and vitamin E.
Whether one uses a silicon sheet or wrap, or a topical creme, may be largely a matter of personal choice. In either case, the time it takes for positive results to occur may be several months and it’s important that the person using a particular product sticks with it. On again, off again treatment is usually not going to be very successful. A dermatologist may be in the best position to determine whether a surgical or non-surgical approach would be the best way to go. Try to find a doctor or dermatologist who does not appear to have a vested interest in either pushing a product line or promoting plastic surgery. Don’t forget the family doctor, who when all is said and done, may be the best source of advice on the subject.
Covering up Tummy Tuck Scars
Many tummy tuck scars will be easy to cover up by wearing a full bikini or swimsuit and avoiding extremely low-cut garments. Protect your newer scars from sun exposure. Some tummy tuck patients seek out laser skin rejuvenation treatments or microdermabrasion to diminish the look of a tummy tuck scar if they feel that the scar is too noticeable. Other patients go one step further and get a tattoo to cover up their scar.
Check with your surgeon before you use other forms of treatment to lessen the appearance of your tummy tuck scar. Undertaking a particular therapy that has not been approved by your doctor may actually cause scars to worsen or create other complications in the healing process.