Concerned About Puffy Stretch Marks Near my Incision - Will They Eventually Flatten?

I am two days shy of being 3 weeks post op. I was aware that I would have left over stretch marks due to their position. But they are now near my incision and the incision plus the stretch marks are really puffy. Will my stretch marks flatten down? and why is the area near my incision so swollen, I feel like I looked better 2 days post op than I do at 19 days post op.

Doctor Answers 6

Puffy stretch marks near tummy tuck incision 3 weeks post-op are normal and will diminish over time!

At three weeks post-op, your results look quite good, and your scar will continue to flatten and soften and diminish in redness over 6-12 months. During this time it is critical that you avoid any ultraviolet exposure (including tanning beds) to prevent unwanted scar pigmentation, which can be permanent! You can use mist-type spray tans or self-tanning lotions.

Your residual stretch marks have less collagen and elastic fiber content, which is why they "puff up" when swollen. The post-surgical swelling is lymphatic fluid caused by disruption of the lymphatic vessels in and around your surgical incision. These all need to heal and re-establish the normal lymphatic drainage for the stretch marks to reduce in their visibility. More taut skin with higher collagen and elasticity is less prone to the degree of puffy swelling seen in stretch marks, but even totally non-stretch-marked skin will have some degree of post-operative swelling (edema) and firmness. As overall swelling starts to reduce, the non-stretch-marked skin will lose its edema fluid more effectively, which is why the stretch marks actually look more puffy at 19 days as compared to "everything" is swollen at 2 days!

At three weeks after surgery I recommend scar massage with Vitamin E oil, which can help diminish both scar bulk and firmness. If there is any evidence for scar thickening (scar hypertrophy or keloid formation), I recommend scar pads, which are available at many locations or through your plastic surgeon. Be patient and do not worry!

Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 255 reviews

Puffy stretch marks near tummy tuck incision

Your result looks excellent.

Stretch marks can appear quite puffy for a few weeks after surgery. They will become flat without any treatment.

There is often a zone of swelling just above the incision, and this can last for many months.

I always draw a picture of this to show my patients before surgery. Even then I often need to remind them that this is to be expected and will gradually settle down over time.

It certainly appears from your photos that you are on your way to a very good outcome.

Eric Pugash, MD
Vancouver Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 136 reviews

Concerned About Puffy Stretch Marks Near my Incision - Will They Eventually Flatten?

Thanks for the series of posted photos. You can see you are very early in the healing phase following the operation. Of course the swelling will subside over time. And you will obtain the "flatten" look you desire. If after 3 months postop than you can complain. From MIAMI. 

Darryl J. Blinski, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 173 reviews

Puffy stretch marks after tummy tuck

In the first month post tummy tuck there can be a significant amount of swelling particularly in the lower aspect of the abdominal flap. This may make some of the associated stretch marks look worse during the short term. This should all improve over time and by six months post op you should appreciate the final result.

David A. Bottger, MD
Philadelphia Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 55 reviews

Stretch Marks & Tummy Tuck

Tummy tucks usually remove significant areas of stretch marks, but not all of them.  The stretch marks located around and above the umbilicus are usually translocated to the suprapubic area.  Three weeks post-op is far too early to assess your final result.  I suspect that these striae will flatten out, but I agree with Dr. Au that it may take several weeks.

John Whitt, MD (retired)
Louisville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 2 reviews

Swelling after tummy tuck

The stretch marks are puffed out by the swelling you have after a tummy tuck, caused by fluid within the tissues. The normal channels which remove the fluid are disrupted during the procedure. With time theyse stretch marks will flatten out. It can take many months for the swelling to improve.

Victor Au, MD (retired)
Chapel Hill Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 7 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.