After losing a lot of weight, many people who suffer from loose skin folds undergo tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). This procedure removes the sagging skin and helps get rid of stretch marks. It’s one of the most popular body contouring surgeries we offer at our Monticello, IL cosmetic surgery center.
Patients who undergo tummy tuck often ask Dr. Stuart Baker about post-surgical scarring and what to expect. We’d like to go over some of the basics of tummy tuck scarring and what you can do to reduce the appearance of scars after surgery.
Location of Tummy Tuck Scars
A traditional tummy tuck consists of the following three incisions:
- A circular incision around the navel
- A horizontal incision that spans from one hipbone to the other
- A vertical incision along the lower abdomen that connects the previous two
Variations on Traditional Tummy Tuck Surgery
There are two variations on the traditional tummy tuck we should briefly note.
The extended tummy tuck is for major lower abdominal revision. The horizontal incision spans from the back of each hipbone along the sides. By contrast, the mini tummy tuck involves a smaller horizontal incision, or may simply consists of a horizontal incision along the lower abdomen.
Will the Scars Be Visible?
Post-surgical scarring is a reality after any sort of procedure. Scarring is most visible in the first weeks and months after surgery, though the scars will fade on their own with time. We point out to many of our patients in the Monticello area that numerous undergarments, tops, and bathing suits conceal tummy tuck scars.
Even a minimally visible scar can be a source of self-consciousness. That’s why we have various pre-op and post-op instructions to help minimize scarring following tummy tuck.
Pre-Op Instructions to Help Minimize Scarring
Follow all pre-op instructions to the letter. These instructions help the body get into ideal condition to heal. The most important pre-op instruction is to quit smoking in the weeks leading into surgery. You can use your tummy tuck as a convenient excuse to kick the habit for good.
Post-Op Care to Help Minimize Scarring
After tummy tuck surgery, we recommend the following post-op tips:
- Continue to avoid smoking for at least six weeks if not longer
- Walk a little bit each day after surgery to promote circulation
- Stay well hydrated
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables
Long-Term Scar Reduction and Management Tips
There are a few things that patients can do after they have fully healed to help accelerate the rate at which a scar fades.
- Use Topical Vitamin E - Applying vitamin E oil has been shown to help improve the appearance of scars. Discontinue use of vitamin E if you notice irritation or an allergic reaction.
- Keep the Scars Covered Up - Avoiding direct sun exposure is a good way to keep scars from worsening in appearance. Keep the scars covered up, especially in the first few months of recovery.
- Use Sunblock - When you do finally get expose the scars to the sun, be sure to use sunblock on all exposed parts of your skin. This protects scars from looking worse and helps you avoid sunburn and skin cancer.
When Is Professional Scar Revision Therapy a Good Idea?
If you develop serious scars that are large, textured, discolored, or easy to notice, you can return to our Monticello center for professional scar revision treatment. This may involve laser therapy, steroid injections, and even surgical removal of excess scar tissue.
Learn More About Surgical Scarring
For more information about tummy tuck surgery and how to minimize scarring after body contouring procedures, be sure to contact a board-certified cosmetic plastic surgeon. The team at our practice can be reached by phone at (217) 877-9439.