When Can I Stop Worrying About my Tummy Tuck Scar Stretching and Widening?

I am 3 weeks post op from a full scar revision. I had skin undermined up to my belly button and had my scar lowered by two inches. I am swollen and very tight. I am so worried about standing up straight too soon and putting tension on the scar. I had the revision to lower the scar but also because after 5 years it was still red and wide so this is why I am fretting about the same thing happening to me again. Is there a timeframe when the scar can no longer widen or is it different for everyone?

Doctor Answers 9

Tummy Tuck: incisions and healing

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
It may take several months for a #tummytuck patient’s scars to soften, for sensation to return, and for relaxing of the tight sensation in the abdomen. In the case of extensive surgery, abdominoplasty recovery can be uncomfortable and may take longer. Scars may stay red, become thick or widen . It can take 12-18 months for the scars to settle.
These can be improved with topical treatments such as BioCorneum, Scar Guard , Scar Fade and Mederma. Redness can be improved with laser treatments and the scars can be kept narrow with products such as Embrace. On occasion, keloids or hypertrophic scars can develop and will need treatment including Kenalog, 5FU and laser.

Orange County Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

Wound healing can continue for up to a year....

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
It’s not unusual for patients who’ve had adverse scarring in the past to worry about unattractive incisions following revisional surgery.These unattractive scars occur for a variety of reasons.In some cases they’re related to the patients biologic healing capacity, while in some other cases it’s related to mechanical factors such as high tension wound closure.
Several steps can be taken to minimize the spread of scars following this type of procedure.Anything that decreases the tension on the wound closure can help minimize scar spread.For this reason, we utilize steristrips, silastic sheeting and mircopore tape for 6-8 weeks following surgery.At two months the wound has healed and regained most of its tensile strength.
At three weeks it’s probably reasonable to straighten your back and walk in an upright position.It’s important to realize that each patients wound healing characteristics are unique and for this reason port-operative care needs to be individualized.In most cases wounds have regained most of their strength in 6-8 weeks, but it’s also important to realize that the wound healing process continues for a year.

Scar care after tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
Thank you for your post. In tummy tuck and other lift/tightening surgeries, tension is the enemy. The scar is healing gradually over 12 weeks or so, and until it is strong, it is the weakest link. As there is a great deal of tension in tummy tucks, body lifts, breast lifts, etc., the scar is at high risk of 'stretching' or widening. Silicone sheeting, although having the ability to make a scar flat, does nothing to prevent stretching of the scar. Creams or steroids or lasers also do not have the ability to prevent stretching of the scar. Those are used if scar is thick or dark, but not to reduce the wideness of the scar, which is the main problem. Massage also does not help keep the scar thin, and can actually worsen the scar in the first 12 weeks because you are actually adding tension to the scar. Massage is for softening a hard or thick scar, but if used early, will hasten the scar widening. Only tension reduction has the ability to keep the scar as thin as possible. You may notice in a lot of tummy tuck scars that the center portion of the scar is the widest with the sides toward the hips being the thinnest. This is because the maximum tension is at the center, and least amount on the sides. Embrace removes a lot of the tension by putting more tension on the skin on either side of the incision and drawing the incision together. It is expensive though at about $100 per week for 12 weeks. When patients do not want to spend the money for embrace, I tape the incision trying to remove as much tension as possible for 12 weeks and recommend no stretching back and to sit most of the time, keeping tension off the scar.
Best wishes,
Pablo Prichard, MD

Pablo Prichard, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

You might also like...

Tummy Tuck Scar Revision

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The results of your revision may be influenced by the amount of tension on the scar and your genetics. Keep a close eye on your scars to prevent recurrence. Raffy Karamanoukian, Los Angeles

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 95 reviews

Scar final result after revision tummy tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Unfortunately you may have to wait a good year to see the final result of your scar after revision.  Yes, it can take that long.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Concerns about Scars after Revisionary Tummy Tuck Surgery?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thank you for the question. Your plastic surgeon will be in the best position to advise you precisely, but generally speaking it's best to “take it easy” for 6 to 8 weeks after the type of surgery you have had performed. Of course, the appearance of the scar will generally improve over the course of the first year and even subsequently.

 Best wishes.

When can I not worry about my tummy tuck scar stretching.

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Thanks for your question.  It normally takes up to six weeks for the scar from a surgery to begin to gain a significant amount of strength.  Until that time I would be careful and not overdue a lot of things.  The scar won't be fully healed for a number of months but it will have a fair amount of strength by the six week mark.

Shaun Parson, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Postop Healing after Tummy Tuck

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The healing process is a year long event.  Don't worry.  After three weeks you should be standing straight.  Start using a scar cream, Vit E and Cocoa Butter massaged into the scars consistently twice a day.  If redness persists i will often use a pulse dye laser to aid in maturation.  Scar tapes can help too.  Good Luck

When Can I Stop Worrying About my Tummy Tuck Scar Stretching and Widening?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The time course of wound healing is different for everyone. Most of what is best for wound healing was in the hands of your surgeon, and most important for you now is to follow the surgeons instructions regarding limitations and the time to return to activities. Suggestions may be made for scar products. 

None of us have seen the procedure, nor even a photo of the current status. Your surgeon is in a far better position to give advice.

Thanks, all the best.  

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

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.