The Truth About Tummy Tuck Scars

15 Nov 2013 at 9:00am

before and after tummy tuck dr steve laverson womans abdomen

By Dr. Steve Laverson

The goal of tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) is to restore a youthful, alluring "hourglass silhouette" -- with a narrow waist and flat abdomen between the breasts and hips. The surgery can reverse loose sagging skin and a stretched-out abdominal wall, which some women experience with pregnancy and aging.

That said, the scar resulting from abdominoplasty can be a distinct cosmetic disadvantage. Which means the doctor and patient should participate together to minimize the visibility of tummy tuck scars -- as a bad scar will sabotage the goal of a sexy, feminine appearance.

What your surgeon can do

Surgical techniques have been proposed to reposition the scar, shorten it, or to avoid it altogether -- such as “reverse” abdominoplasty, “mini” abdominoplasty and “endoscopic” abdominoplasty.

Most moms, however, are much better served by traditional abdominoplasty. Skin stretched by pregnancy spreads across the lower abdomen and around the belly button. A scar placed horizontally across the lower abdomen, along with a smaller scar near the belly button, is necessary to remove this skin most effectively. 

3 women with tummy tuck incisions

On the day of surgery, women should wear the style of bottoms they prefer. The operation should be planned for scar placement behind the straps and fabric. Anticipated scar position is drawn in the mirror, so patients know what to expect.

Women with a naturally high belly button can still have a low scar, but may also need a small vertical scar above the pubis. This hidden "extension" allows lower swimsuit bottoms and intimate wear for women with higher belly buttons.

What you can do

Strategies to diminish the "scar burden" begin before surgery. Smokers should stop completely before considering tummy tuck.

After surgery, helpful measures include a slow and gradual return to normal activity, use of an abdominal binder or pressure garment, and application of an adhesive silicone sheet for several months.

A scar can also be hidden by diverting attention away from it -- and this can include wearing bright colored clothing, body jewelry (like a belly button piercing), or an ornamental tattoo.

woman with tattoo before and after tummy tuck

And if all else fails ... there's always scar revision

An objectionable scar may still develop, despite the joint efforts to avoid it. Rather than lifelong embarrassment and concealment, women and their surgeons must be willing to revise the scar, which is usually an office procedure.

Have more questions about tummy tucks and scarring? Click here!