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 28
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.
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.
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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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.
Following Your Surgeon's Care Instructions Will Help Minimize Tummy Tuck Scars
Please note that any cosmetic treatment can help to reduce the appearance of scars, but it often is unable to completely eliminate them. The goal of any scar reduction treatment is to replace a single, extremely visible mark for a less unsightly one. Good luck!
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.
Best Scar Management is important to minimize or completely hide from view, the tell tale signs of surgery – namely, scars. Both you and your surgeon want you to have the most minimal scarring possible from your surgery. Patients with scars that are enlarged or not healing well after surgery can be from many causes. Unsightly scars are most commonly due to genetics, underlying medical conditions or improper scar/wound care. The last part is very important and patients can make a noticeable difference in their scars’ appearance by following best scar management practices. Here are some simple tips.
Scar Management tips:
1- Minimize tension on the scar – Steri Strips and/or surgical tape are often placed in non-hair bearing areas to minimize tension and keep pressure over the scar. This minimizes the stress that can pull the scar apart (dehiscence) creating a wound and delaying healing time, and can make the scar wider, or more “ropy”.
2– Keep your incision site/scar clean to prevent infection. Follow your surgeon’s wound care instructions to the letter with out modification. NEVER apply different products then recommended without first discussing them with your surgeon. This is especially important during the first few weeks. If there are any signs of infection contact your surgeon’s office immediately and/or see your doctor or his nurse immediately. Typical signs of infection may include redness outside the immediate incision site, asymmetric swelling, and drainage, of pus, fever, chills, and “feeling sick”
3. –Protect your scars from the sun - staying out of the sun is the best advice. Minimal exposure to sunlight is prevents hyperpigmentation (permanently turning brown) and other problems that can make the scar more noticeable. Sunscreen, at least 30 SPF and an overlying make camouflage make up additionally protects the scar from the suns harmful rays. This advice is especially important the first year following your surgery.
4. – Use specific scar maturation products recommended by your surgeon. Patients seem to have their own opinions on this touting everything from Pure Vit E, Coco butter, to Aloe Vera, etc but most have minimal benefit other than keeping the scar hydrated. Although hydration is important there are better, scientifically studied products with greater efficacy. Most of the scientific articles written about this subject indicate that topical silicone gel or silicone sheets work the best. There are a lot of products to choose from, but silicone should be one of the key ingredients. Although Mederma, an onion extract derivative active ingredient rather than mainly silicone based may help, primarily silicone based products are better and many also contain other ingredients that may be synergistic (hydrocortisone or other steroid, Vitamin E, Sunscreen,etc). At the present time I prefer BioCorneum or Kelo-Cote products and if the reader has problems obtaining these they can call my office. Patient compliance is also critical – use often and according to directions or it will not work optimally. NEVER apply products without first discussing them with your surgeon.
5. – Monitor to make sure your scar is progressing optimally. Keep your scheduled follow-up appointments with your surgeon to verify that your scars are maturing as expected. Occasionally if indicated you may need a topical steroid preparation or even a series of injections (5-FU and/or Steroids) or laser treatments to treat or prevent scar hypertrophy or keloid formation (red raised scars), or other topical medicines to treat post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (brown scars) with prescription creams and possible laser treatments.
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.