18 Months Post Op. Will Incision Continue to Fade? (photo)

I had my TT 18 months ago by a board certified plastic surgeon. I'm not happy with the location of the scar. But I wanted optimal stretch mark removal and I did not have a full understanding of where my incision would be. So, will the scar continue to fade? I've used mederma, bio-oil, scarguard, and scar away silicon sheets in the past . What product produces optimal fading? Also, what can I do to protect my scar if I decide to use the tanning bed occasionally?

Doctor Answers 7

Tummy Tuck Scars Fade For Two Years, 1540 Laser Can Help

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Thank you for your question and photograph. Tummy Tuck scars and other scars continue to mature and fade for up to 2 years.

If there are pinkish areas, lumps bumps or irregularities in your incision scar, then laser therapy with a 1540 fractional erbium non-ablative laser can help. 4 treatments should be scheduled a month to 6 weeks apart. Specifically the 1540 fractional erbium non-ablative laser is the only one that I have seen improved scars that are older than 3 or 4 months.

High scars after tummy tucks

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do happen with more frequency that I would imagine.  Most surgeons thoroughly discuss the scar position and most try to place it so that your swimsuit or underwear will cover it.  You should help your surgeon understand the importance of this concept if your surgeon completely ignored it as I would think your surgeon would do his/her best to help you achieve the best.  Yes, optimal stretch mark removal will alter where the scar will be but its unfortunate the miscommunication did not allow you to understand this better.

Curtis Wong, MD
Redding Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

High Abdominoplasty Scar

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Hi Av83

Your scar is certainly higher than I think is normal or reasonable. It may have been the best option for complete stretch mark removal, but it's just not in a good position. The miscommunication between your plastic surgeon and yourself is unfortunate. A repeat tummy tuck is the best option to change where the scar lies on your abdomen, but it will come at the cost of an additional vertical scar from your old (current) belly button or a belly button that is pulled downwards.

It sounds like you've thrown everything at the scar possible. Using a tanning bed will make your scar more noticeable as the surrounding skin will pigment (brown up) whereas the scar will not.

And just wanting to check that you are aware that tanning beds greatly increase patient's risks of deadly melanoma - they have been banned in Australia, Brazil, and some European countries. California and Canada are in the process of banning them.

Good Luck

Dr Gavin Sandercoe

18 Months Post Op. Will Incision Continue to Fade?

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WOW! very high placed scar/incision. Lets hope fading will continue. Again sorry for the mis communication between yiou and your surgeon. 

Are you sure he was a plastic surgeon?

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Wow. I have seen a scar drift a few cm's upward do to tension but your scar location is an enigma to me. It is almost impossible to lower so I would focus on surgical scar revision at this point just to get it more narrow. It takes about 12 months to go through all the phases of wound healing so at this point I would consider it healed.

Joshua B. Hyman, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon

At 18 months your scar is pretty much what it's going to be long-term. (Sorry)

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I agree with Dr. Gottlieb's assessment, including my dismay at your surgeon's incision placement choice. Other than scar excision and revision (starting the whole 12-18 month scar maturation process all over again in hopes of a thinner and less-visible scar--less tension this time around is the only potential reason to hope it might be better), you've done all that can be done.

Laser resurfacing or dermabrasion would not improve width or hypopigmentation of your scar, and pulsed dye laser treatment might improve areas of residual redness (slightly), but either would be a long run for a short slide. (Meaning lots of work for little improvement)

Your surgeon tried to give you what you asked for in terms of removing most of your stretch marks where they were, but should have told you that a lower scar and trans-locating your mid-abdominal stretch marks to the lower abdomen would have been a better choice (which you now realize).

Even with passage of time and additional skin softening and stretching, you won't end up dropping this scar by much, and still would have to deal with the umbilicus and a "new" opening for it while having a scar for the "old" position.

Sorry there is no good solution or "quick fix" for this issue; it's just got to be done as good as possible the first time. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen

Richard H. Tholen, MD, FACS
Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 263 reviews

18 Months Post Op. Will Incision Continue to Fade?

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I can certainly appreciate your displeasure with the height of the scar. Usually scar position is discussed with the patient at the consult, at the preop, and again reviewed when markings are made before surgery. It would not have been my preference to make so high an incision.

By 18 months most scars are mature and not likely to change much. It sounds like you have tried most kinds of scar remedy. Kenalog injections would not be appropriate in the absence of actual thick scars. 

Any 30 or higher rated sun block should be satisfactory. Usually by 12 months after surgery most surgeons feel that sun protection is no longer needed on scars beyond what is useful on skin in general. Not too many surgeons would encourage tanning beds!

Unfortunately, the only solution I can think of would be repeating the TT after a few years when the skin becomes somewhat lax. I hope another reviewer can make a more immediate recommendation. All the best. 


Best wishes. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

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.