Belly Button Crusting Post-Tummy Tuck

Is it normal to have some crusting of the belly button after a Tummy Tuck? It's is a fair amount similar to a scab but there is no foul odor. I was told that I might get a fungal infection if I use an antibiotic ointment on the area. How do I care for it properly?

Doctor Answers 21

Just keep the area clean and dry


Don't worry. It is normal to have a bit of crusting around your belly button after an abdominoplasty. This may last a few weeks.

You are correct - it is basically a scab. As long as the surrounding skin looks okay and there is no foul odor or creamy discharge, you should be fine. Just hang in there and allow your body to heal - it is amazing what your body can do.

Enjoy your new tummy.

New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Crusting around the belly button incision may be normal, but see your surgeon!

Your concerns are well taken. The comments made by the other physicians are correct: a small degree of crusting around the belly button incision in usual and common following a tummy tuck procedure. We routinely advise are patients to cleanse this area twice daily with 50% hydrogen peroxide and apply a thin a layer of Bacitracin-zinc ointment (without Neosporin), and cover with a light sterile bandage during the first one-two weeks.

But! The crusting could be indicative of other post-operative problems. This is why it is imperative to continue to see your treating plastic surgeon. Other causes of crusting may include one or a combination of the following:

1. Loss of the belly button tissue because of compromised blood supply.

2. Infection, including both fungal and bacterial.

3. Separation of the suture line (dehiscence).

So you are perceptive to ask this question, but please make an appointment and be examined by the person who knows you the best-your plastic surgeon.

Stephen A. Goldstein, MD
Englewood Plastic Surgeon

Sounds normal for the course.

Everything you describe sounds normal for the course. If it is something bad, like an infection, dehiscence (separation of the suture line), or loss of tissue (necrosis) - then you would likely experience some drainage, a foul smell or redness around the belly button. Since you do not describe these things you are probably doing fine. I would love to tell you how I manage post-op treatment of the belly button, but it is best for you to follow the advice of your surgeon only! Too many cooks spoil the soup.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Most likely this normal

It is normal to have some crusting around the bellybutton immediately after abdominoplasty. This can be caused by small gaps in the wound closure or by small amounts of fluid in the area.

From the look of the picture, it appears normal and it should improve over the next week or two. Persistant crusting (more than two weeks) can be a sign of delayed healing or other problems.

As always if you're concerned about an issue in your post-op course you should ask your surgeon since no one can give more informed advice than the person who performed the procedure.

I hope this helps.

Steven H. Williams, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 49 reviews

Crusting of the navel after tummy tuck is common and demands better hygiene.

The navel gets roughed up quite a bit during a tummy tuck.  There can be oozing of serum from the wound edge as well as sloughing of the epidermis of the stalk.  Together, these can create some unwanted crusting.  Thorough but gentle washing several times a day will eliminate it and eventually when the healing is complete, the navel will behave as it did before surgery.

Vincent N. Zubowicz, MD
Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Follow your surgeons's instructions.

This is extremely common after abdominoplasty because the blood supply to the belly button is different from the rest of the abdomen.

Generally, it sounds as if you are doing a good job.

However, too much Neosporin may make a fungal infection more likely.

Neosporin may assist in healing but, in and of itself, it is not a great antibiotic.

There are beter antibiotic creams but they do not have side effects and generally should not be used unless an infection is present. They can cause delayed healing.

Also antibitic creams generally fight off bacteria but not necessarily fungal infections. Other medications called antifungal or antimycotic or fungicidal agents are used for fungal infections. In severe infections an oral treatment may be useful bu this does not sound like your condition,

I hope this helps but in any event seek the advice of your treating surgeon.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 81 reviews

Care of the umbilicus after abdominoplasty: Belly button care after tummy tuck

The belly button is a critical element in an abdominoplasty procedure. In some cases, a patient may have delayed healing.

In my plastic surgery practice, I use a superior hooding technique for belly button reconstruction during abdominoplasty. This superior technique produces a very natural looking belly button.

Care of the belly button consists of the following:

Keep the area dry and free from excessive moisture.

Place a soft gauze on the area and prevent any shear force.

Once the skin has healed, apply a neosporin type ointment

The umblicus is important to the success of a tummy tuck. Take good care of the area and discuss when the sutures wll be removed with your plastic surgeon.

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Usually normal

This should improve on its own with time. Clean it as you would the rest of your skin, and avoid the sun-- remember, there is an incision there, and sunlight directly on a scar while it is maturing can cause some discoloration.

Shahram Salemy, MD, FACS
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 149 reviews

Crusting of the navel can be normal.

In the first 2 weeks after surgery, it is not uncommon to have some crusting aroung the navel. The belly button is repositioned into a new whole to create the normal navel. This is also an area that can get moist due to the depth of the whole. Fluid can leak around the incision and cause the crust. You must make sure that there is not any abnormal redness or infected drainage.

You can keep the area clean with normal soap and water washes. I would not recommend any antibiotic ointment until your doctor has had a chance to evaluate the area. He/she may recommend peroxide rinses or antibiotics based upon the appearance. If the area becomes red or painful, contact your physician right away to get the appropriate treatment.

David A. Dreyfuss, MD
Orland Park Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

NOt uncommon

Crusting around the umbilical region after a tummy tuck is very normal. As long as there is no significant drainage or smell then it is probably normal. The crusting may last 2-3 weeks sometimes longer. I usually recommend showers and leave it open. If there is some drainage then I recommend a gauze pad over the area to avoid staining clothes. I don't usually recommend antibiotic creams or peroxide.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.1 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

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.