Factors Inhibiting Healing After Tummy Tuck Surgery


Tummy tuck surgery is an extensive body sculpting procedure as it typically uses a hip-to-hip incision.  But for massive weight loss patients who need more contouring, the scar could even extend to the back of their hips just to achieve a near normal appearance.

With the rather extensive use of incisions, tummy tuck is only reserved for healthy patients, or to be more accurate, individuals who can heal properly.

Because wound healing is one of the most crucial factors that determines the success of tummy tuck, the surgery generally involves several months of preparation.  And since the outside appearance is a not an accurate indicator of health, I always require extensive physical exam and lab work.

The list below shows the systemic factors that can affect healing after tummy tuck or any type of surgery.

1. Age.  Older patients—i.e., 60 years and above—often experience longer recovery than younger individuals, although many clinical studies have shown that one’s chronological age does not impair or affect the quality of healing.

2. Weight.  Body contouring surgery creates little to no cosmetic improvement in obese patients. Also, the theory is that the adipose fat has inadequate blood supply, predisposing them to a significant risk of wound healing, infection, and poor scarring.

3. Infection.  A wound that fails to heal might be infected.  Use of antibiotics, proper wound care, and good hygiene practices are just some of the things that can minimize the risk of infection.

4. Diabetes.   People with this condition have impairment in the healing of extensive wound, which is an issue if they are having tummy tuck or any form of body contouring that involves large skin excisions.   Nevertheless, some patients are allowed to undergo the procedure as long as their diabetes is well under control.

5. Nutrition. Malnutrition or any form of nutrient deficiency can impede healing and increase the risk of infection and its subsequent complications.  To avoid these problems, tummy tuck patients might be asked to change their diet and/or take preoperative supplements.

6. Medications.  Some drugs and supplements are known to interfere with platelet function and clotting, which in turn affects wound healing.  Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, aspirin, chemotherapeutic meds, and ibuprofen are just some of the most common treatments known to impede normal recovery.

7. Smoking.  Tobacco products deprive the body of the much-needed oxygen and constrict the blood vessels, limiting the amount of nutrients going towards the wound.  For this reason, smokers are discouraged to undergo any surgical enhancement unless they are going to quit well in advance of their surgery.
Article by
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon