What can be done with a 1 inch vertical scar from tummy tuck?

I just had a full tummy tuck 6 days ago. Everything is going well, but ps told me morning of surgery I required a 1 inch vertical scar because of naval/skin issues. I am 48, 5'7 125 lbs. 3 pregnancies ( 1 c/s). Belly looks amazing, but I am flustered over this vertical scar and wonder what result would have been if it was not done. PS said horizontal scar would have to have been raised too high. Can this vertical scar be removed or tattood? please advise. thanx

Doctor Answers 7

Vertical scar after an abdominoplasty

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This vertical scar is sometimes necessary to prevent wound healing problems.  The scar can be excised in the future once everything has healed.  

Atlanta Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Vertical Incision or "Invert-T" Incision Tummy Tuck

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Occasionally, there is not enough skin laxity to properly close the abdomen after a tummy tuck and there are two options: A horizontal-only scar that is higher than normal, or a low horizontal scar that has a 1-2 inch vertical component (upside-down T).  You had the second option.  Of the hundreds of Tummy Tucks that I perform each year, this is only necessary in a handful of cases and I always alert the patient to a possibility before the surgery so that there is no confusion or concern after. It is unusual that your surgeon did not discuss this possibility with you before, but it should heal very well and it is likely that you will hardly notice this vertical component. Follow your surgeon's advice through the recovery process. 

What can be done with a 1 inch vertical scar from tummy tuck?

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Thank you for the question.

Sometimes, especially for patients with a relatively short torso and/or minimal redundant abdominal wall skin, a short vertical scar is necessary ( in addition to the usual transverse tummy tuck scar). This vertical scar results from closure of the previous umbilical opening and prevents excessive tension upon closer in the midline of the tummy tuck incision line. If this vertical incision is not used, patients may end up with wound healing problems and much wider scars. Sometimes these vertical scars can be revised/ removed ( usually one year or more after the tummy tuck surgery).   I hope this, and the attached link, helps.

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Scars fade much more than you expect over time.

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I know that any unexpected change during surgery can feel very unsettling. Using a vertical incision during a tummy tuck is only done in very specific circumstances, and the surgeon’s choice in doing so is definitely one that’s made in the interest of seeing better long-term results. Typically, a small surgical scar will heal up to nearly invisible as time passes, although it may feel very conspicuous right now. You should see a lot of improvement over the next six months, with continued fading until about the 18 month mark. Some patients do choose to get tattoos over their tummy tuck scars, but that’s a personal choice you’ll have to make for yourself.

Glenn M. Davis, MD, FACS
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

Vertical scar post tummy tuck

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Sometimes there is not enough laxity above the belly button to pull the opening from the belly button area all the way down to the horizontal scar. It would be too tight. To put the horizontal scar higher would be worse in my opinion. Give it some time, use scar gels, even laser surgery to the scars will help. If not totally to your satisfaction, after about a year, you may have enough laxity develop to cut that scar out and bring it to the horizontal scar.

Rick Rosen, MD
Norwalk Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Vertical incision after tummy tuck.

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When a tummy tuck is performed a horizontal incision is made from one hip to the other.  Ideally it is placed low enough to allow for the wearing of a bikini or other type of lower cut garments.  Once the incision is made the skin and fat layer is elevated off of the muscle layer up to the belly button.  An incision is then made around the belly button so that the skin and fat layer can then be elevated up to the rib cage.  The belly button is left attached to the muscle layer.  Often the muscle layer is then tightened.  The skin and fat layer is then pulled snugly downward and the excess skin and fat is removed.  Sometimes it cannot be pulled tight enough to pull the opening created to release the belly button past the incision line.  In this case a vertical incision will remain.  A judgment has to be made by your surgeon as to how tight the abdominal flap can be pulled safely.  If it is pulled to tight you may experience a wound separation and subsequent undesirable scarring.  Usually a 1 inch vertical incision heals relatively inconspicuously.  As time goes on and the tissues relax it may be possible to remove some or all of the vertical scar.  You certainly have the option of tattooing the area. 

For a simple and illustrated explanation of tummy tuck and body contouring procedures, watch my video.

John J. Edney, MD
Omaha Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 133 reviews

Vertical scarsTo accommodate a high navel generally are almost imperceptible after scar remodeling.

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Which you experienced happens occasionally when the navel is anatomically high on the abdominal wall. Allow us to totally remodel and it will probably be very inconspicuous. Tattoos of her scars are becoming more common.

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.