When Closing a Tummy Tuck Incision Can It Be Done with a Subcutaneous Stitch to Reduce Scaring?

I worked as a vet tech for 8 years and with all the surgeries we did on the animals I noticed the ones who received a subcutaneous running stitch had very minimal scaring and it was hardly noticeable. also I had a c-section 15 months ago for my twins and half of the scar is keloids and wondered if an aldara cream could be used after a tummy tuck to prevent this from happening

Doctor Answers 12

Reduced tummy tuck scar

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Scar appearance is related to several factors and most important are good surgical technique and genetic factors in each individual.  Good technique involves maximizing the healing environment or local factors in the incision.  Maximizing the circulation to the incision, minimizing the tension on the closure, preventing the build up of blood (hematoma) and using a subcutaneous stitch are some of the things that we do to improve the appearance of the scar.

We have little control over the genetic factors that each person carries.  Things like minimizing the tension can decrease the risk of "keloid" formation, but some individuals will form "bad" scars despite our best efforts. 

It is best to speak with your surgeon about your concerns to get an idea about the risks involved.  Good luck.

Albuquerque Plastic Surgeon

Suturing following tummy tuck

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What you describe is called a us cuticular wound closure.  This is how I suture closed the skin of a tummy tuck.  most Plastic Surgeons do the same, but you should talk to the plastic surgeon to be sure.

Ronald J. Edelson, MD
San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 29 reviews

Closing a Tummy Tuck Incision with a Subcutaneous Stitch to Reduce Scaring

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Most surgeons avoid external sutures when doing tummy tucks. There are several layers of closure to allow for minimal tension on the last layer which has the greatest impact upon scarring. 

There are a number of products your surgeon may consider to minimize the chances of keloid. Thanks and best wishes.

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

TT scarring and sutures

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Most ps do close their TT incisions with a running subcuticular suture for the very reason you mentioned. As for keloids and hypertrophic scars, Aldara is not recommended (at least in people). There are many treatment options for such scarring issues. A local board certified plastic surgeon can address these issues for you. 


Best of luck,

Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C) 

Asif Pirani, MD, FRCS(C)
Toronto Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews

Subcutaneous dissolving stitches are the norm

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Most elective plastic surgery operations are done with internal dissolving stitches.  This includes a tummy tuck.  If external stitches are used they would be removed with in a week of surgery to reduce scarring.  Aldera cream would not be recommended but there are other things which could be done to minimize hypertrophic scarring

Suture closure and treatments to reduce tummy tuck scaring

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Tummy tuck scars can be reduced by utilizing good surgical techniques.  These include avoiding undue tension on the suture line and  by performing a multiple layer closure using subcutaneous sutures.  Patients can also aide  in minimizing scars by maintaining a slightly flexed position for the first few weeks after the surgery.  After the first 2 weeks, topical moisturizers and silicone scar sheeting, as well as, topical 1% hydrocortizone cream and sunblock - SPF 30 or higher, can also be of help.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

Subcutaneous Stitch to Reduce Scaring?

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Great question and observation. I think you would have a hard time finding a plastic surgeon that would use outside sutures. I have used the internal dissolving sutures for my entire practice and I think most other surgeons will tell you the same. But dogs do scar very differently than humans with their different skin and even with excellent internal suturing, sometimes the scar is not what we wish for.

Ronald V. DeMars, MD
Portland Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 28 reviews

Layered Closure is Key to Nice Tummy Tuck Scar

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To have a thin tummy tuck scar, the incision closure should have as little tension as possible.  This is best achieved when there are many layers of stitching below the skin.  The goal of the tummy tuck is to create tightness and a flatter tummy so some tension is expected, even desired.  But the closure at the surface has to have the least tension of all the layers.  All stitches should be under the skin and ideally dissolve and therefore leave no suture marks.  Even with the best closures some patients have the genetic "hard-wiring" to develop keloids or thick scars.  If these occur, they will have to treated with steoid injections of later scar revisions. 

Christopher J. Schaffer, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon

Sutures in tummy tuck

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In general, most plastic surgeons use only sutures under the skin to close the incision sites.  Placing all sutures under the skin does help improve scarring as external sutures can leave stitch marks.  Regarding your potential for keloids, you should have a discussion with a board-certified plastic surgeon on options to decrease risks of poor scarring. 

Naveen Setty, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 78 reviews

Tummy Tuck and Subcutaneous Sutures

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Dear Envynds,

Most plastic surgeons use multiple layers of suture under the skin to achieve the closure they desire.  For the part these sutures are dissolvable and will be gone in a few months after surgery.  Most plastic surgeons also use subcutaneous sutures for the final layer of closure-just under the outermost layer of the skin-to obtain the best closure and final scar possible.  On rare occasions, some external sutures may be required in some abdominoplasty closures and these will be removed as soon as possible to minimize any scarring.

Regarding your past wound healing history, this is something to address with your plastic surgeon who will develop a treatment plan to decrease your scarring risks.  Best of luck and hope this helps.

Herluf G. Lund, Jr, MD
Saint Louis Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 88 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.