Dog ears and tummy tucks.

What are dog ears and how do I avoid them?

Doctor Answers 9

Dog ears and tummy tucks

Dog ears are little excess triangular mounds of skin which occur at the end of skin incisions when closed. Imaging cutting a football shape out of a piece of tissue paper and then bringing the edges together. The bunching at the corners are dog ears. They can be avoided or minimized by properly designing the incision to minimize excess skin and then closing the incision to distribute excess skin away from the corners. If they still occur, a small procedure in the office with local anesthetic can be used to remove the extra skin. Hope this helps!

Johnson C. Lee, MD Plastic Surgery

Beverly Hills Physician
5.0 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Dog ears and tummy tucks.

With very careful planning and execution, “dog ear" occurrence can be minimized. Occasionally (despite best efforts), after tummy tuck surgery surgery, patients will have excess skin or adipose tissue at the very end of their incision lines. These may be referred to as “dog ears”. "Dog ears"  refer to a bunching up of tissue at the end of a incision line/scar. Generally they occur  because a surgeon,  in his/her attempt to keep the scar as short as possible,  has a discrepancy between the lengths  of the upper and lower tummy tuck incision lines. They can be avoided by extending the incisions and removing additional skin and subcutaneous tissue. Most patients will much prefer a longer incision line than  the bunching up of tissue and contour elevation, which is visible and palpable with and without clothing.  Often, excision of the dog ear, if it's still a concern roughly one year postoperatively can be corrected easily under local anesthesia. I hope this helps.

Tom J. Pousti, MD, FACS
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

They Are Not What You Think!

Dog ears are areas of extra skin at the end of a scar that stand up like a dog's ears! They can be avoided by extending the surgical incision at the time of surgery or by excising them once they occur. 

Dog ears usually occur because the surgeon is trying to make the scar as short as possible - a noble gesture. In many cases they flatten out with time, but if not, a minor procedure under local anesthesia usually suffices for their removal.

George Sanders, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 12 reviews

Dog ears after a tummy tuck

Dog ears occur due to the shape of the wound that must be closed. For example, imagine that a surgeon cuts out a circular mole the size of a nickel. If the surgeon tried to suture that round wound together, there will be a raised puckering or protrusion at each end of the scar. If the wound is extended so that the shape is more of a shallow ellipse than a circle, then it can be closed more nicely, without dog ears at the ends. With a tummy tuck, if a short incision is used to remove a lot of skin from top to bottom, the wound closure can be like closing the round nickel wound. This could result in dog ears. If the incision is extended further on each side towards the back, then the wound becomes more elliptical, and can  be closed more nicely and flatter.

This is something your surgeon will worry about, not you. A dog ear can usually be avoided, but sometimes that can be difficult if A LOT of skin is removed. Regardless, even if a dog ear does occur, it can usually be corrected easily in the office using local anesthetic. This would be done months after the original surgery.

Andres Taleisnik, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

Dog ears from tummy tucks?

Prominences and small bulges at the end of a tummy tuck incision are referred to as dog ears.  These usually occur from settling of the abdominal wall flap due to tension in the central area combined with inadequate length of incision.  All patients want their incisions to be as short as possible but in my practice I explain that it is necessary to make as long and incision as necessary to permit removal of skin in a gradual and smooth manner to eliminate the risk of dog ears.  Discuss your surgical incision with your plastic surgeon before proceeding and make sure that all of your questions are answered.  You might also ask your plastic surgeon how often dog ear revisions are necessary in his/her practice.  Remember that the trade-off of a surgical incision is a worthwhile one compared to the potential benefits from significant muscle tightening, skin and fat removal as part of the tummy tuck.

Jon A Perlman M.D., FACS
Diplomate, American Board of Plastic Surgery
Member, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)
ABC-TV Extreme Makeover Surgeon
Beverly Hills, California

Jon A. Perlman, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Tummy Tuck and Dog Ears

Dog ears are simply extra skin that puckers upward at the end of the incision.  It is usually the result of not extending the incision posteriorly (long) enough. 

There is not much you can do as the patient, but what I would recommend is to allow your surgeon to make the appropriate sized incision.  It is when the surgeon attempts to limit the size of the incision is when dog ears happen.  With enough experience on a particular procedure, the surgeon knows the limits and how short of an incision can be made without having a dog ear.

If this does happen it can easily be fixed in the office setting under local anesthesia.

Hope that helps.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Dog Ears

“Dog ears” form when a surgeon is closing an incision and there is extra skin protruding at the edges. They usually occur due to the surgeon trying to make a scar as short as possible. Larger dog ears are avoidable and can be minimized, but, because tummy tuck surgery can involve removing a lot of excess skin and fat, small dog ears can sometimes occur even with careful planning. As a courtesy to patients, plastic surgeons will often remove a dog ear complimentary once an incision is healed. This can be done with a simple, in-office procedure. Consult your board-certified plastic surgeon regarding your postoperative concerns. Good luck!

Jerome H. Liu, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Dog ears and tummy tucks.

In my opinion, this is an issue of surgical technique and precision.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

Kenneth B. Hughes, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 492 reviews

Dog ears

Dog ears are a bunching up of the skin that sometime occurs on the hips from a tummy tuck.  Surgeons do their best to avoid them, but they occasionally occur.  If that happens, they are easy to revise under local anesthesia.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 27 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.