What are the odds of wound separation if I'm a healthy, non-smoker, and stay away from caffeine?

I see all these responses to people with wound problems being told it's not uncommon with a TT. But how common is it for healthy people to have problems like wound separation and necrosis?

Doctor Answers 8

Risk factors with tummy tuck?

You are right about being healthy and a non-smoker (including second-hand smoke, nicotine patches, gum,etc., and vaping or e-cigarettes)--wound healing problems and fat/skin necrosis can occur in any patient (1-2%), but are much more common if you have even minor nicotine exposure (15-20%). 

Caffeine is really not a risk factor, so you need not avoid your favorite beverages unless your doctor recommends this for other health reasons.

The biggest risk is choosing a poorly-trained surgeon, since there are many "cosmetic" surgeons who claim certification by boards that have little or nothing to do with plastic surgery or are "bogus" boards. Make sure your surgeon is an ABPS-certified plastic surgeon (ASAPS member as well) with lots of experience in tummy tucks. 

No surgeon can guarantee no complications, so choosing a surgeon with proper training and credentials will minimize your risks. Best wishes! Dr. Tholen


Minneapolis Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 239 reviews

Wound problems after TT

Thanks for your question. If you are in good health, and not smoking, the chances of significant wound healing problems are very small (I'd estimate less than 5%). But, it is common to have very small areas that form a scab for a week or two, and then go onto heal just fine. Best wishes.

Paul J. Leahy, MD
Leawood Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 reviews

What are the odds of wound separation

In the past, wound problems were not uncommon with the TT procedure, but since the advent of closing the TT with progressive advancement sutures several years ago that has dropped to near zero in non-smoking and non-diabetic patients as has the risk of seroma and bad scars. Find a surgeon who uses that technique and you will reduce your risk of problems dramatically. In addition we are now able to get a much tighter and better contoured abdomen and a lower scar with that technique.  

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

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Wound separation

Thank you for your question. It is not common. It is less than 2% in our experience. Please follow instructions from PS you will be fine

Wound healing

Thank you for the question.  In a healthy non-smoker the rate of wound healing complications is very low.  Overall a minor complication such as wound healing, infection, bleeding is about 3% nationally.  Those rates are likely much lower and closer to 1%.  There are other factors such as previous abdominal sugeries or existing scars and the amount of tension on the closure that will impact wound healing as well.  There is no such thing as surgery without complications no matter how skilled a surgeon is and you should know that there is always a risk.  However, if you follow instructions during recovery the risk is very small that a wound separation would occur.  Best wishes!

Levi J. Young, MD
Overland Park Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Risk of wound separation

If you follow the postop activity restrictions and your surgery is performed by a board certified plastic surgeon with a good reputation, the chances of major areas of separation are very small. It is not unusual to have small areas less than 1 inch that heal more slowly, but these generally heal up in a few weeks without major issues. 

Jonathan Amspacher, MD
Kansas City Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

What are the odds of wound separation if I'm a healthy, non-smoker, and stay away from caffeine?

Significant wound separation is not particularly common in my experience.

Kenneth Hughes, MD

Los Angeles, CA

What are the odds of wound separation if I'm a healthy, non-smoker, and stay away from caffeine?

Thank you for the question. You are correct in that superficial separations along a tummy tuck incision can occur.  There are many factors involved when it comes to its occurrence, some of which you have listed above. Although it will be difficult to find specific statistics, my best estimation is over 90% of patients will not experience superficial separation (or worse) along their tummy tuck incision lines.


 My best advice: seek consultation with board-certified plastic surgeons who can demonstrate lots of experience achieving the types of outcomes you would be pleased with, safely. Best wishes.

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.