Hyperpigmentation After Tummy Tuck

I Am Hispanic It's 11 Months After Tummy Tuck Both Belly Button and Bikini Line Incision Are Dark , What is the Best Treatment?  Although I am happy with my tummy tuck I am extremely upset with the color of my scars. My belly button in particular looks really dark and I feel a slight when I touch it. I have gone to my surgeon several times and he says it’s perfectly normal , I went to a gastroenterologist and he said I just have a very good tummy tuck. How can I treat it? I have thought of putting in a piercing, getting laser treatment or revision surgery.

Doctor Answers 12

Hyperpigmentation after tummy tuck?

Hello! Thank you for your question! After any surgical procedure, you should be careful with incisions as well as avoidance of direct UVA and UVB rays in order to lessen the chance for hyperpigmentation of the skin and scars, which can take several months to resolve, if it ever does. Sunblock is recommended regardless. The ability of the affected area to heal has been slowed and you should try to avoid additional swelling to the area. The area will likely be numb for several weeks to months and will be difficult to feel when sunburn is coming on.

Typical recommendations include wearing a hat and/or sunblock to the affected area for at least 6-12 weeks following the procedure. It takes up to one year for scars to fully mature. You should also avoid trauma to the area for several months to protect the refinements made during the procedure. Also, avoidance of pools/lakes/jacuzzis/etc for 4-6 weeks is usually recommended to allow adequate healing and protection from stagnant water, that could potentially harbor bacteria. Lifting/exercise restrictions are common for at least 7 weeks. Certainly discuss the postoperative instructions with your surgeon, as thoughts differ among surgeons. If after that time period, consideration for steroid, laser, or scare revision is reasonable. In the meantime, discuss with your surgeon regarding medications, scar massage, etc.  Hope that this helps! Best wishes!

Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 26 reviews

Nonsurgical Treatments to Lighten Scarring

It is common for patients with darker skin to experience hyperpigmented scars. Your scars can be lightened with nonsurgical treatments, including micro needling, topical skincare products (medical grade) and laser skin technologies. In the meantime, please keep your scars covered up from sun exposure, as UV can darken them even more. Best of luck.

Jerome Edelstein, MD
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 176 reviews

Topical treatments and time should improve dark scars.

Patients with olive colored skin or dark skin have a greater risk of their scars darkening after surgery.  This is due to the melanocytes (the cells in the skin which give it its color) increasing their production of pigment in the "area of injury", ie your scars.  As the scars mature, the scars become less active and softer and the pigmentation will become less dark.  You may be able to accelerate the fading of the scar by using a topical treatment like Solaquin Forte or Melenex, although this may require several months to be fully effective.  Have your surgeon recommend a treatment plan for you.  Good luck.

Jeffrey M. Darrow, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

Needs to be evaluated by an experiensed plastic surgeon

 Bruising and swelling normally occurs following abdominoplasty. The skin in or near the surgical site can appear either lighter or darker than surrounding skin. Although uncommon, swelling and skin discoloration may persist for long periods of time and in rare situations may be permanent. You can try bleaching creams, laser or steroid injections

Gregory Turowski, MD, PhD, FACS
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Laser is effective for raised, pigmented scars from plastic surgery

It can be very difficult to get topical bleaching products (such as hydroquinone) to penetrate scar tissue since scars are very dense. Laser procedures are a wonderful way to jumpstart your results and are very effective in softening and fading your scars - a MicroLaserPeel will precisely remove the top layers of skin cells so that your bleaching treatments can absorb easily and effectively (I recommend that you wait 2-3 days after the laser procedure and then start a combination of hydroquinone and steroid if the scar is raised or flat, or hydroquinone and tretinoin if the scar is depressed). If pigmentation is more resistant, fractionated ablative laser treatments (like ProFractional, Fraxel re:pair, etc) can be excellent solutions to unwanted pigmentation in a scar, and will help to blend the texture of the scar into the surrounding skin; however, the discomfort and downtime are more significant. I routinely collaborate with my board-certified dermatologist who is expert in laser therapy to address these challenging problems arising from plastic surgery. Laser treatments require special skills, so make sure your board certified dermatologist performs these techniques routinely.

Ariel N. Rad, MD, PhD
Washington DC Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 51 reviews

Hyperpigmentation in Hispanic after Tummy Tuck. (OR ANY PROCEDURE IN ANY SKIN TYPE)

Hyperpigmentation is treated with  a probram of Hydroquinone, Retin A, Hydrocortisone, Sun Screen, and Kelocote to help intensify the effect and speed it along.  Every surgeon knows this and so should your surgeon.  Go back and discuss this with him.  It takes one year on the program to remove the pigment by melanocyte suppression.  I start all patients on this 2 months prior to their surgery and go on  one year afterward and this greatly reduces pigment problems.  The sun is your enemy.  Sun screen 100% even under clothing.   If your surgeon gives you no plan, go to another surgeon or to a dermatologist.  All dermatologists know this program.  GOOD LUCK.

George Commons, MD
Palo Alto Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Scar Hyperpigmentation

I reccomend you ask your surgeon to prescribe a hydroquinone gel.  If you place it on your incision regularly, you may see an improvement in your pigmentation.

Vishnu Rumalla, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 197 reviews

Hyperpigmentation of Scars

Without seeing before and after pictures, it is impossible to give you specific advice.  However, skin bleaching creams such as Hydroquinone cream can sometimes be helpful.  Other creative options would be to get get a tattoo which covers the areas.


Good Luck.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 75 reviews

Great results but hyperpigmentation of scars after a tummy tuck

What you have experienced is expected to occur in individuals with darker complexions and is known as post inflammatory hyperpigmentation. A skin bleaching agent even at this point in time may help lighten the areas up. You would have to apply it for several months. Typically, I start my patients on this a few weeks after their surgery to help lower the risk or extent of this occurring.

Laser treatment might help but you would need to find someone with a lot of experience with this.

Good luck.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Hyperpigmentation After Tummy Tuck

It is not unusual for individuals with darker skin to develop scars which are somewhat hyperpigmented.  Even at eleven months following your tummy tuck, you may still see some resolution with time.  The simplest thing which you can do to try speed this process along would be to massage the scars with a scar reduction product containing silicone.  If this does not lead to improvement, there are certain lasers which may improve the hyperpigmentation.

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