I'm thinking of having a Tummy Tuck but am worried about the possible scar from the procedure. How can I minimize tummy tuck scars? Would laser treatments help? If so, should it be ideally done at time of procedure or after recovery?
Treatment to Help Minimize Tummy Tuck Scar?
Doctor Answers (24)
How To Minimize Tummy Tuck Scar-Laser Can Help
Thank you for your question. Your concerns are the most common question I am asked about the Tummy Tuck. All patients are concerned about the scar.
The most important factor in minimizing the Tummy Tuck Scar is the surgical technique used by your surgeon. Trying to take too much skin to create a very tight Tummy is probably the most common cause of a red raised or widened scar. Discuss this with your surgeon.
Most often the Tummy Tuck Scar can be hidden below the Bikini Line or Underwear Line. However if most of the loose skin is higher, around the Umbilicus, a higher scar is required.
Laser Treatments using the Non Ablative Fractional 1540 Erbium Laser can be very helpful in reducing the size, color and appearance of the scar. Inquire if your surgeon has this modality available-it can make a significant difference. See link below.
First Things First
Almost every procedure in Plastic Surgery involves trading a scar for the ultimate result. For most patients, if the scar can be minimized and placed in an inconspicuous location, the trade-off is very worthwhile.
Abdominoplasty or Tummy Tuck scars are placed as low as possible above the pelvic brim, where they are typically hidden by undergarments and bikini bottoms. However, occasionally there may be some visibility of the scars, and they may stretch, thicken, or widen. There are several treatment options for the scars after Abdominoplasty, depending on the presentation. One option for the temporary redness of scars (caused by capillary growth across the scar) may involve the use of a laser which targets the hemoglobin in the red blood cells, causing coagulation of the capillaries and resolution of the redness of the scars. Other options may include steroid tape or injections, silicone tape, or surgical revision of the scar.
Your surgeon will monitor the progress of your scar during the healing process, and will advise you if any further treatment is necessary.
Don't let the scar deter you from having your Tummy Tuck! For most patients, even the worst scar is better than the excess skin and fat that is removed by the Abdominoplasty.
Usually not necessary
When the incision is done well and the skin is closed without tension at the edge, the scar usually fades very well. One way to avoid this kind of tension is called progressive tension suturing. If the scar starts to thicken and turn red, there is a type of laser that can help, or a similar technology called IPL (intense pulsed light).
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Laser can help improve a scar, but will not make it disappear.
The scar from a Tummy Tuck procedure is a permanent scar. Many Plastic Surgeons use all dissolving sutures and special techniques to reduce the scarring and improve the final results. Some patients heal with a wide or discolored scar, even with good surgical techniques. Tummy tuck scars need to mature to improve in appearance. Usually, this is a minimum of 4-6 months, but can continue to improve up to 18 months later.
If we notice that a scar is not improving as we want, laser can be helpful. Most Plastic Surgeons have the ability to use different lasers to affect different problems. One laser is used for discoloration and another for redness/fullness.
You should discuss this issue with your Plastic Surgeon before your procedure so you are comfortable with your options. Make sure you see pre and post op photos, so you understand what the normal scar can look like.
Following Your Surgeon's Care Instructions Will Help Minimize Tummy Tuck Scars
Immediately following surgery, the affected skin will feel tighter than usual. In order to avoid pulling the scar (which will be well hidden, located in the lower bikini line and groin), you’ll be instructed to walk with your back bent slightly forward. During the recovery period the support garment and dressings should be removed before showering while the white tape (steri-strips) covering the incision should be left in place. Baths must not be taken until all drains have been removed, the sutures surrounding the belly button have been removed and the incisions have mostly healed. This typically takes two weeks. As healing progresses some stitches (those woven under the skin) will dissolve while others (some of the stitches placed around the belly button) must be removed at the end of the two week period.
When the steri-strips have begun to curl at their edges they can be safely removed. At this point you will no longer need to cover your incisions with dressings and can begin to administer scar reducing products. There are gels and silicone sheeting that can help make scars less noticeable.
Laser treatments can help, but should only be performed after your surgeon gives you the green light. This is normally after you've recovered.
Having said all the above, however, the best thing you can do is follow your surgeon's instructions.
Best way to minimize scar from tummy tuck
It would be helpful to know about you and how you heal. Do you have a history of forming hypertrophic and/or keloid scars? Is your complexion olive or black? Women with a history of poor scar formation and/or hyperpigmentation after a scratch, etc. are more likely to have these same issues with other scars. Unless you have a history of this, your scar should fade to a white line and hopefully be flat. There are several things you can do to help your scars. If you have good nutrition, take vitamin C and zinc, your body will be primed to heal well. Number two is select a good surgeon; he/she will be gentle in handling the tissues and will close the incision with minimal tension, all of which help. Ask them if they use the Quill barbed sutures, these also help take tension off the closure. I have my patients use paper tape on the incisions for 3 months after surgery; this helps a lot. If you have a history of poor scar formation, you could consider laser treatments. In my area this is performed by a dermatologist and they usually start the treatments 2 weeks after surgery. Hope this helps.
Tracy M. Pfeifer, MD, MS
The incision from an abdominoplasty usually heals very well. I usually have my patients wear steri-strips or paper tape for several weeks after surgery. Yes, lasers may help lighten the scar, but usually tummy tuck scars fade nicely on its own.
Permanent scars are inherent to a tummy tuck procedure
As plastic surgeons, it is our intent and goal to minimize all scars. In the tummy tuck procedure, there are necessary incisions that ultimately will form permanent scars. You should know the location of the tummy tuck scars prior to the surgery, and accept that poor wound healing may occur.
The quality of postoperative scars varies widely and is dependent upon many variables. By seeing a board certified plastic surgeon who is experienced in body contouring procedures and tummy tucks, you greatly improve your chances of getting the best results. As you are well aware, there are no guarantees.
Laser and IPL treatments can improve the appearance of scars. However, I must caution you to have a lengthy discussion with your plastic surgeon to cover this potential complication as well as others before consenting to this procedure.
Thanks for your question.
I typically allow the incision to undergo healing, with the use of scar prevention aids initially. If the scar has redness 4 to 6 months after surgery, laser can be an excellent aid. I currently prefer the use of intense pulse light treatment for this issue. Ultimately, it is most important to make sure you choose a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, to achieve the most desirable outcome. Your board certified surgeon will have a variety of options for you to consider and have the training needed to get the best outcome for you.
Scar care after tummy tuck
Pablo Prichard, MD