Stretch Marks and Swelling After Tummy Tuck

I had a Tummy Tuck and I still have some stretch marks. My stomach looks way better, but I'm concerned that when the swelling goes down, I'll back to square one. Will the stretch marks eventually fade, and will results remain good once swelling goes down?

Doctor Answers 10

Your tummy tuck should give you a long-lasting big improvement

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We plastic surgeons perform tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) for a variety of reasons. The operation is most effective at improving laxity of the lower abdomen that can involve the skin, fat, and fibrous / muscular support layers.

When stretch marks are present in the lower abdominal skin (the skin which will be removed) patients get complete removal of their stretch marks. Stretch marks in other areas remain, but most patients feel they look much better. By the way, for the first few weeks your stretch marks may be more swollen, but should go back to their earlier appearance.

Since you look way better now, I think you will look even better after the normal healing period.

Greenville Plastic Surgeon

Stretchmarks and swelling after tummy tuck

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If you had extensive stretch marks before your tummy tuck, chances are the will not have all been removed. Did your surgeon promise that they would all be gone after surgery? 

After your swelling subsides, you won't be back at square one. You'll probably have a leaner, more contoured midsection that is an improvement from what you originally had. Please keep in touch with your surgeon and if you aren't happy with the results, express your concerns. Sometimes, even looking at your pre-surgery photos and comparing them to how you look now can give you a better perspective on your results. 

Time will help but...

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Basically the only way to get rid of stretch marks is to remove the skin. So I'm sure you'll be happy with your result. But the not all of the stretch marks can be removed without risk to wound healing. And in addition there's really nothing else you can do to help the appearance of the marks. But time should allow them to fade.

Stretch marks above the belly button unfortunately cannot be removed.

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Hi, Nina,

Most people are very happy after a tummy tuck, even though some stretch marks are left.  The stretch marks should be lower and less obvious.  What matters is that, as you say, you are a lot better.  I am sure the result will hold up.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon

Stretch marks and tummy tucks

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Stretch marks that were initially above your belly button will not be removed with a tummy tuck.  However, those below the belly button are now gone for good.  You should anticipate some swelling for 3-6 months, during which time your remaining stretch marks should become less prominent.  Good luck!

Not square one

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The tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat, tightens the skin and muscle layers. If your stretch marks are red presently, they will fade. The tighter skin will make them look better, plus you should have less of them.

Remember that it will take a long time for the final results to be manifest, and your results will improve over that time.


If your stomach looks way better now, you should not lose any ground

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Tummy tucks can not remove all stretch marks, as many occur beyond the area that is removed with surgery. Swelling s common for up to two months after surgery, but there is no reason to think that you will be back to square one after the swelling goes down. If anything, you should look better as stretchmarks look their worst when they are swollen.

Follow your doctor's instructions on when you can increase your activity and enjoy the results!

Francisco Canales, MD
Santa Rosa Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Be patient...

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The stretch marks you have will still be there, but they will be less noticeable as the swelling goes down.  If you're happy now -- you'll love it later!

Robert S. Houser, DO
Columbus Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Stretch marks look worse when swollen

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Many patients have so many stretch marks that a tummy tuck alone can not get rid of all of them. However, for most patients the procedure tends to leave any remaining scars low on the abdomen.

Especially in the early post-operative period, the swelling makes the stretch marks look much worse then in the final result.

Relax and enjoy.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 34 reviews

Concerned about tummy tuck results.

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Try not to anticipate the results of your surgery. The important thing is that you are happy with the initial outcome. No one can predict exactly how your belly will look. However, you did have a tummy tuck so I don't understand how you can ever be back to square one. You had alot of skin removed and likely had the muscle tightened - it is very unlikely that you would be back at square one.

Give it some more time and improve the quality of the results by taking on an exercise program to improve your abdominal muscle tone.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 86 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.