One of the most common questions patients ask is What Is A Tummy Tuck Scar Like? In this article, we will explain, in general, what kind of scarring you can expect from different types of tummy tucks; always talk over your case with your surgeon. Depending on your skin quality, previous surgeries, and how well you heal, each person’s results may vary from the general answers.
One of the biggest concerns patients have about tummy tucks, and all cosmetic surgeries, is scarring, how visible they will be and if incisions are necessary. People seeking cosmetic surgery may want to rely heavily on liposuction to avoid procedures that will create a scar.
Liposuction has limitations when it comes to excessive amounts of loose skin and overstretched skin and muscle that cannot be corrected with liposuction alone. All versions of a tummy tuck create an incision that varies depending on which tummy tuck surgery is performed. Subsequently, the scar will be appropriate to each procedure. The good news is a cosmetic vs. a general surgeon pays extra attention to minimize the appearance and location of the scar. Let’s look at the different type of tummy tuck surgeries and what a tummy tuck scar is like:
Full Tummy Tuck
Full Tummy Tuck: this surgery is generally done when there is excessive loose skin and localized fat in the upper and lower abdomen. In most but not all cases, there is muscle separation or overstretching due to pregnancy or extensive weight gain and loss. In this case, the skin and muscles have been stretched to the point that no amount of exercise or healthy eating can resolve the issue, and surgery is the only option.
A full tummy tuck is a fairly extensive procedure that includes reattaching the navel in its natural location on the abdominal wall. A full tummy tuck is sometimes done in patients with severe hernias, but most commonly, it’s done as a cosmetic procedure. The surgeon will locate the final incision below the bikini line, generally going from hip to hip. Ultimately the length of the incision is determined by the surgeon to ensure the ends of the incision can lay flat and don’t create “dog ears,” pooches of skin that can occur if the incision is too short.
Mini Tummy Tuck
Mini Tummy Tuck: this procedure involves only the lower abdomen below the belly button and is done to remove excess sagging skin that has been overstretched or lost its elasticity. Muscle repair of the lower abdomen is unusual but, in some cases, may be necessary. The mini tummy tuck does not affect the placement of the navel.
As a rule, the scar is shorter, but in some cases, it will need to be hip to hip, especially when redoing a C-section scar. When meeting with your surgeon, this is an important consideration so that your expectation for results is realistic.
Reverse Tummy Tuck
Reverse Tummy Tuck: a reverse tummy tuck is done when excess skin and fat confined to the upper abdomen do not respond to liposuction alone.
This procedure is also done as a secondary procedure for patients who have had a full or mini tummy tuck in the past. Fat and excess skin accumulate over time due to weight gain or from the effects of gravity. A reverse tummy tuck can return the abdomen to an attractive flat profile.
The incision is made under the mammary crease, which is well hidden. Sometimes, the incision will need to be extended outward toward the armpit.
Extended Tummy Tuck
Extended Tummy Tuck: is essentially a full tummy tuck with an incision that extends around the hip area to part of the back. This procedure may also be done during a lower body lift, and in the case of extreme weight loss where it is necessary for the surgeon to remove additional skin and fat in the hip area to get a smooth result. Extreme changes in weight cause the skin to lose most of its elasticity and often create dermal damage as seen in stretch marks. For women who have had multiple pregnancies, especially multiple births like twins or those who have experienced extreme weight loss, an extended tummy tuck is necessary to produce a superior result.
Fluer-De-Lis Tummy Tuck
Fluer-De-Lis Tummy Tuck is often used in the case of bariatric surgery patients or for patients with massive weight loss resulting in extreme redundant abdominal skin. One indication for this procedure is the abdominal area is wider than the hips.
This procedure has two incisions. The first incision is done as in a full tummy tuck where the muscle is repaired and excess skin fatty tissue is removed with a horizontal incision along the center of the abdomen between the hips. the second incision is vertical and runs along the middle of the abdomen allowing the surgeon to remove more excess skin and fat and repair the laxity of the upper abdomen. The length of the vertical scar is determined by how far laxity extends into the upper abdomen.
The two incision approach allows the surgeon to tighten skin up and down which world dramatically improve the appearance of the abdomen once everything heals.
What Is A Tummy Tuck Scar Like?
Each tummy tuck incision length must to gauged to eliminate poochiness or a “dog-eared” appearance regardless of which procedure you have. If your surgeon makes the incision too short, you may have excess skin on either end of the scar, preventing it from laying flat. Better to have a slightly longer scar than to have to have a revision due to puffiness. Since a good surgeon will make the incision low enough to hide at the bikini line, the length is less important than the flat appearance over time. Tummy tuck scars after 1 year fade considerably! Tummy tuck scars after 5 years can all but disappear.
The most common misconception is that all mini tummy tummy tucks have a routinely short or tiny scar. Depending on the amount of loose skin the surgeon removes, the scar may be a few inches or as much as hip to hip.
The risks for a tummy tuck procedure are similar as they are for any major surgery. It’s important to understand risks and to talk them over with your surgeon prior to making your final decision about having surgery.
- Anesthesia risks
- Fluid accumulation (seroma)
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation (which usually resolve over time)
- Poor wound healing
- Possibility of revisional surgery
- Suboptimal aesthetic result
- Unfavorable scarring
5 Steps To Minimize Your Scar After Surgery
A scar of any kind is yours for life. It will always look different then your other skin as it will be smoother and lighter in color. But there are many things you can do that will make the appearance of your scar less visible. You may not be able to eliminate it but you can certainly minimize the appearance.
- Follow your doctor’s care instructions. Your doctor will give you written instructions on hygiene and wound care designed to help incisions heal better and more rapidly.
- Watch for infection. Let your doctor know immediately if you suspect at any point that you’re in decision is getting infected. Infections can cause more prominent scarring amongst other issues.
- Begin topical treatments at the right time. When your incision no longer scabs and is 100% closed, you can begin topical treatment. It’s important that you don’t pick at scabs not just for the sake of the scars appearance but also to prevent infection. One of the best products to use for scar reduction contains silicone. it comes in several forms such as a gel, cream or even in sheets. Silicone duplicates some of the healing and hydrating properties of the outer layer of the skin. it may also prevent excess collagen production. Studies, like in Advances In Wound Care, have shown that silicone is quite beneficial for the care of scars as they are healing.
- Keep skin moisturized. Once incisions have closed you can apply moisturizer directly ti the scar area. It is important not to use moisturizers beforehand as it can prevent wounds from properly closing and increases the chance of infection.
- Never suntan with a healing scar. It is essential to cover healing scars from the sun at all times. Exposure to UV rays will make your scar darker and thicker. Clothing is better than sun screen.
It’s important to have realistic expectations and to know what a tummy tuck scar is like so that you are not disappointed in your results.
Contact Dr. Ahmed’s office to set up a consultation to talk about what type of tummy tuck is right for you.
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