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How Long Does It Take for Skin Necrosis to Heal?

I have a small section of my incision (about 1/2 inch wide at the widest part, by 1 inch long) above my pubic area. I am a day shy of 3 weeks post-op from surgery and my doc said last week that I had an area where the skin was dieing, it is now black and he said to just put antibiotic ointment on it and it'll heal up. I think it is getting better, but was wondering ususally how long it takes for it to heal? I was a smoker, and quit 6 weeks prior to surgery and haven't smoked since. Thanks.

Doctor Answers 15

Healing time after skin necrosis

An area of marginal necrosis in the middle is not uncommon. This is the area that is the furthest away from the blood supply and under the most tension. These areas generally take about 4 - 6 weeks to fully heal. Many times the scar will look just fine and other times you may require a relatively simple scar revision. Simple wound care is all that is required at this time.

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

3096 Peachtree Industrial Blvd
Duluth, GA 30097

Skin necrosis after Tummy Tuck

Unfortunately, whenever a Plastic Surgeon lifts and shifts skin, there is the risk of loss of blood circulation resulting in death of the skin (necrosis). Nicotine constricts the circulation to the skin and increases the risk of necrosis in Tummy Tucks, Face lifts, Breast reductions and mastopexies.

Your area of necrosis does not appear to be large. The treatment is removal of dead tissue(debridement) and local wound care. In a healthy person all wounds close by a combination of healing and contracture. A wound your size may take 4-8 weeks to heal. After the wound is closed, you should wait 6-8 months for the tissues to soften and mature. At that time your surgeon can perform a simple scar revision under local anesthesia.

Have patience. Stick with your surgeon. You will be fine in the end.

Richard L. Dolsky MD

Richard L. Dolsky, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

191 Presidential Blvd
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004-1207

Skin Necrosis Post Tummy Tuck

This is a problem that can occur in smokers or immunocompromised (cancer) patients.   It is important to allow the wound to declare its borders of healthy tissue.   I recommend treating these with a silvadene cream until the dry necrotic tissue demarcates itself.  I also recommend maintaining a flexed posture and preventing tension on the incision line, which can worsen the ischemic tissue.    If there is any surround redness or fluid drainage, I would recommend cultures of this to provide adequate antibiotic coverage.   Next, I would recommend debridement of the black area and wet to dry dressings for a small wound and a wound vac for a large wound.    Usually, 4-8 weeks is required to fully heal such a wound.    I also recommend a high protein diet with multivitamins to accelerate the wound healing process.

I wish you a safe and healthy recovery.

Paul S. Gill, MD
Houston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

9200 Pinecroft
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Skin necrosis following tummy tuck

Unfortunately, this is one of the complications that all of us have seen one time or another.  The good news is that it will heal, but it may leave a wider scar.  Following complete healing, if the scar is unacceptable after 6-9 months, your surgeon may consider a small revision.  By the way, congrats on the quitting!!

Michael Orseck, MD
Greenville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

391 Serpentine Drive
Spartanburg, SC 29303

Treatment and healing time will vary by patient.

Unfortunately, patients occasionally suffer skin necrosis following abdominoplasty.This situation occurs for a variety of reasons including diabetes, collagen vascular diseases, infection, tension on wound closure and vascular compromise.The incidence of skin necrosis following surgery is higher in patients with history of cigarette smoking.
Once skin necrosis has occurred, treatment varies from patient to patient depending upon the severity of the problem.Many wounds require debridement, followed by dressing changes and eventual scar revision.In some cases the necrotic tissue may become infected and antibiotics may be required as well.
When patients have relatively small superficial wounds, the black scab will eventually lift off the wound surface revealing granulation tissue.Once this has occurred the wound will contract as the skin grows over the top.This process typically takes four to six weeks to reach completion.
During this period, it’s important that the wound be monitored by your plastic surgeon.When this approach is taken most small wounds heal nicely.

Richard J. Bruneteau, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 142 reviews

8900 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE 68114

Wound healing after surgery

There are many factors that contribute to poor wound healing.  At this point, it is best to let the wound declare itself and to help prevent infection.  Keep up good nutrition, minimize trauma to the area and apply the creams or medications that your doctor prescribes.  The body is an amazing thing and you will be surprised what a few months of healing can do.  Hang in there.


Best of Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022

Tissue necrosis heals slowly

Good for you!  It's hard to stop smoking.  Unfortunately, it caused what sounds like a small setback in your healing process.  The size wound you describe should heal in 4-6 weeks, but take several more months to soften.  If there is a black crust (eschar) on top as you describe it needs to be removed by your surgeon in the office.  Daily dressing changes will keep the wound clean and help with the healing process.  The area will contract as it heals and look smaller than it does now.  Nevertheless, it may be necessary to do a little scar revision once the surrounding tissues have softened.  Be patient and things will turn out OK.

Lori H. Saltz, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

La Jolla Cosmetic Surgery Centre 9850 Genesee Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037

Skin necrosis and smoking

Unfortunately, smoking is a gift that keeps on giving.  I have had patients who stopped smoking for several months that had wound issue problems. Do not forget second hand smoke from smokers at home. A small area of necrosis may take 6-8 weeks to heal sometimes less.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

1049 Fifth Ave
New York, NY 10028

Healing of skin necrosis after tummy tuck

There are basically two ways to treat the necrotic skin.  One is to continue doing what you are doing by applying ointment and letting the eschar or dead skin heal on its own (which may take 4-8 weeks).  The other option is debriding the eschar which may accelerate the healing process of the tissue underneath.

Lawrence C. Lin, MD
Long Island Plastic Surgeon

935 Northern Boulevard
Great Neck, NY 11021

Skin loss after tummy tuck

Skin loss or necrosis (skin death) is more common in individuals that smoke because of the constriction of the micro-circulation to the skin. When an area of necrosis occurs, the area should be cleaned and debrided of all the non vital tissue to reduce the infection risk. Healing can take a fairly long time, several weeks if the area is small to two to three months with wound care if large. Keep frequent visits with your surgeon who should help guide you through.

Best of luck,


Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

8901 West Golf Road
Des Plaines, IL 60016

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.