Scarring after a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is invisible under most clothing. Even under bathing suits and undergarments, your scars are not likely to be seen.
With that said, every tummy tuck is different, and you may have a different scarring pattern than someone else who had a tummy tuck based on your anatomy and the improvements you sought from surgery.
Below, we’ll look at what the typical scar pattern is for various types of tummy tucks. Chances are, your procedure will result in one of these abdominoplasty scar patterns. We’ll also offer up some tips to help minimize the appearance of your tummy tuck scars after healing.
What Kind of Abdominoplasty Scar Will I Have?
Knowing what type of abdominoplasty scar you will have depends almost completely on the type of tummy tuck you undergo.
Generally speaking, there are four types of tummy tucks:
- Full tummy tucks
- Mini tummy tucks
- Extended tummy tucks
- Fleur-de-lis tummy tucks
Each of these tummy tucks has a different scar pattern depending on where the incisions are made. They are all quite similar.
Full tummy tucks and extended tummy tucks both require two incisions: one around the belly button to detach it from the rest of the abdominal skin (so it can be repositioned) and one along the lower abdomen (hip to hip). The key difference is that with an extended tummy tuck, the hip to hip incision extends on either side around to the back of the patient’s abdomen.
Mini tummy tucks also have a lower hip to hip incision, but there is no belly button incision. Fleur-de-lis tummy tucks have a belly button incision as well as a hip to hip incision, and they also require a vertical incision from the belly button down to the lower incision.
5 Tips for Minimizing a Tummy Tuck Scar
1. Follow your surgeon’s directions during recovery.
This is the most important tip we can offer. Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions for taking care of your incisions and yourself overall. Be sure to follow these. Caring carefully for your surgical sites will ensure they remain healthy and heal well. Resting, refraining from lifting heavy things or exerting yourself, not smoking, and following a nutritious diet are all crucial to a good recovery.
2. Avoid tension on your scars.
One of the things patients have the hardest time with after surgery is refraining from exercise and physical exertion. It’s common to do good with this for the first few days, but understandably, many patients tend to rush moving around, picking up heavy things, and reaching and stretching as their recovery progresses. These things need to be avoided until your surgeon “okays” them.
It’s critical that you do not place strain on your scars during your recovery from a tummy tuck. Not only can overstraining the area cause your incisions to reopen (which may result in a medical emergency), but it can also compromise healing, causing more noticeable, raised, and uneven scars.
3. Avoid UV rays from the sun and tanning beds.
Sunlight and the light from tanning beds can compromise your scars by darkening their pigmentation and making them more noticeable. Avoid exposing your healing incisions (or your scars after healing) to the sun or tanning beds. If you must be outdoors and your scars will be exposed, be sure to use sunscreen (after complete healing), protective clothing, or an umbrella or other shade.
4. Apply moisturizer and use massage.
After healing, regular light massage can help to break up scar tissue and flatten your abdominoplasty scar. Moisture, too, can improve scar appearance and speed up fading.
5. Try silicone scar sheets.
Silicone scar sheets have shown some improvement at minimizing the appearance of scars. These can be purchased at most pharmacies or online. Follow the directions, being sure not to use them until after your scars have fully healed.
FAQ: Tummy Tuck Scars
Will my tummy tuck scars be visible in a bathing suit?
This depends on what type of tummy tuck you had and what type of suit you want to wear. For women, nearly all types of tummy tuck scars will be concealable in most two-piece suits. Fleur-de-lis procedures will be concealable in one-piece suits. Men may have a harder time hiding fleur-de-lis scars in swim trunks, though full, mini, and extended tummy tucks can generally be hidden quite well in trunks.
Will scar creams help my tummy tuck scars?
Possibly. Once your incisions have fully healed over and Dr. Aghayan gives you the okay, you are free to use scar creams if you wish. Not all creams will do what they say they will, though regular massage and hydration have been known to reduce the appearance of surgical scars. Probably the best topical treatments are silicone scar sheets.
How long do tummy tuck scars last?
You’ll always have some sign of scarring after a tummy tuck. However, the appearance of your scars will change over time. Slowly, they will become less and less apparent. In terms of a tummy tuck scar timeline, most of the healing will be complete by the three-month mark. After that, it may take up to a year to see the full results from your tummy tuck.
Is a tummy tuck scar worth it?
Most patients will say yes. The majority of tummy tuck patients have a significant amount of excess skin they want to get rid of. This skin can cause pain, the inability to move the way they want, and deep-seated self-consciousness. It’s enough discomfort to merit tummy tuck surgery and the scars that come with it.
Request a Tummy Tuck Consultation
Dr. Aric Aghayan of Après Plastic Surgery can help you get the slim, tight abdomen you’ve always dreamed of with a tummy tuck. Dr. Aghayan is board-certified and has years of experience helping patients achieve their aesthetic goals. Find out more about what a tummy tuck can do for you by scheduling your consultation at Après Plastic Surgery today.