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Abdominoplasty Scar Healing: Timeline and What to Expect

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is an elective surgery that helps women to regain a flatter and toned abdomen after multiple pregnancies or a massive weight loss. As any other surgery, tummy tuck leaves visible scars due to the different incisions involved to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower belly and for tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall.

Many people find tummy tuck scars a concern as the surgery removes excess skin and fat from their abdomen. A tummy tuck scar is typically formed as an upside-down T.

Abdominoplasty scarring can range from minor scarring to visible, raised marks. Here we introduce various methods on minimizing its appearance.

Key Takeaways of Abdominoplasty Scar

  • An abdominoplasty scar can range from minor to visible, raised marks.
  • Factors like skin elasticity, weight fluctuations, genetics and previous abdominal surgeries can influence tummy tuck scars after the procedure.
  • Regular scar massage and using topical silicone sheet or cream treatments can help minimize the appearance of tummy tuck scar following an abdominoplasty surgery.
  • Medical treatments such as steroid injections and laser skin resurfacing offer relief from higher severity cases associated with abnormal scarring conditions like keloid formation and hypertrophic marks. They are associated with risks including infection, bleeding and adverse reactions to anesthesia.

Understanding Abdominoplasty Scars

An abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery often results in a scar on the lower abdomen, which may be visible to varying degrees depending on several factors.

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Types of Tummy Tuck Scars

Abdominoplasty scarring will vary depending on the individual and the technique used during surgery. Full standard tummy tuck incision stretches across the abdomen from hip bone to hip bone, extending above or below the bikini line, while mini tummy tuck often requires a shorter horizontal incision near the pubic bone.

Some techniques may involve both a vertical scar and horizontal incisions which can be more challenging to hide. The extent of these tummy tuck or abdominoplasty scars is determined by factors such as skin elasticity, weight fluctuations, genetics, presence of previous abdominal surgeries, smoking habits and amount of skin that needs to be removed.

Factors That Can Influence Tummy Tuck Scarring

After a tummy tuck procedure, the quality and appearance of the scars can vary from patient to patient. Genetics can play a role in how prominent scars appear following abdominoplasty.

Smoking is another key factor which increases the period of healing, making it more difficult for incisions to close properly resulting in larger and more raised scarring. Age, nutrition level and compliance with post operative care, including wound protection, can also influence scar healing after an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery.

Minimizing Abdominoplasty Scars

To reduce the appearance of tummy tuck scars, patients must continue to take proper incision care, perform scar massage, and consider using topical silicone sheet or cream treatments.

Proper Incision Care

It is extremely important to follow your surgeon’s specific instructions and adhere to a regular post operative routine to make sure the incision heals properly.

This should include keeping the incision clean and dry, avoiding strenuous activities that can strain or pull on the incision, avoiding any direct sun exposure at all costs until healing has occurred, using compression garments routinely as recommended by the surgeon, and seeking medical attention in case of any signs of infection, for example, redness and swelling.

Applying scar treatments such as silicone sheets or creams can help minimize scarring along with massaging one’s scars regularly following surgery once fully healed.

Scar Massage

Scar massage is an effective technique for minimizing the appearance of scars following abdominoplasty surgery. This type of massage helps degrade excessive and non pliable collagen, resulting in a more supple and soft scar.

Massaging the scar can also help reduce inflammation by decreasing inflammatory signals that lead to poor scarring. Circular motions aid in promoting fluid drainage which reduces swelling and excess fluid build up around the incision site.

Scar Treatments Such as Silicone Sheets or Creams

Silicone is a highly effective scar management material, and has been widely used for decades in the treatment of scars from surgery, burns, and other skin injuries.

Utilizing silicone sheets or creams can help prevent raised keloid scarring and reduce tenderness associated with healing wounds, as well as providing coverage to newly forming collagen fibers responsible for wound contraction and tissue remodeling processes.

Medical Treatments for Tummy Tuck Scar

If the scarring is overly visible, physicians may recommend steroid injections, laser treatments or laser skin resurfacing to reduce their appearance. Scar revision surgery can be used to alter the size or shape of a scar to better integrate into surrounding tissue.

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Steroid Injections

Steroid injections are an effective method for reducing the appearance of raised, thick, or red scarring from tummy tuck abdominoplasty procedures. Corticosteroid injections can be used to treat abnormal scars such as keloid scars by shrinking them over time and lightening their color.

Laser Skin Resurfacing

This technique uses light energy to trigger natural collagen production and tissue remodeling, stimulating regeneration in damaged or scarred areas.

The majority of laser resurfacing treatments are safe with minimal risk of side effects when performed by an experienced physician or reasonably well trained individuals. Possible side effects may include temporary swelling, redness, sensitivity, blistering and uneven skin pigmentation, but these subside quickly after treatment.

Scar Revision Surgery

Scar revision surgery is a specialized surgical procedure designed to reduce the appearance of scars caused by injury, poor healing, or a previous surgery. The technique used in scar revision can vary based on factors such as location and size of the scar.

Scar Appearance Immediately After Surgery

Scarring after an abdominoplasty may appear red, raised, and firm due to inflammation around the standard tummy tuck incision sites. Dressings after surgery can sometimes make it difficult to see what shape or size the tummy tuck scar will end up being.

It is important to recognize that this initial appearance of the scar is typically worse than its overall outcome, and it is not uncommon for plastic surgeons to cover these scars with special surgical dressings.

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Timeline for Scar Healing

Scar healing after abdominoplasty surgery is a multi-stage process. Immediately following the surgery, the scar will be red and slightly raised. After about six weeks, the scar may appear thickened or lumpy.

As it matures over time, it should become softer and flatter. It generally takes 8 to 12 months for an abdominoplasty scar to mature completely. At this point, it can be assessed for revision intervention if desired.

How to Make Abdominoplasty Scars Less Visible

There are various techniques available to reduce the appearance of abdominoplasty scars; from scar camouflage solutions to micro needling collagen induction therapy and even permanent cosmetic or tattoo procedures.

Scar Camouflage Techniques

Scar camouflage techniques such as micropigmentation can be used to conceal tummy tuck scars, injuries, burns, and skin imperfections. MicroArt Scar Camouflage is a treatment that covers scars caused by various surgeries, including breast augmentations, tummy tucks and liposuction.

This technique involves small needles tapping pigments within the scarred area of the patient’s skin which in turn stimulates elastin and collagen production in order to encourage efficient healing.

Micro Needling Collagen Induction Therapy

Micro needling is a safe and effective method to reduce the visibility of post surgical scars, including those from abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgeries. This minimally invasive procedure helps fade surgical scars by creating tiny holes on the skin’s surface, triggering collagen production for smoother skin and more even tone.

Permanent Cosmetic or Tattoo Options

Permanent cosmetics, such as scar micropigmentation, Brazilian stretch mark and scar camouflage, and decorative tattooing can be used to blend the scar with the skin tone so that it is less noticeable.

Permanent makeup or a tattoo should not be done until after the scar has fully healed, which usually takes about a year after your tummy tuck procedure. These tattoos involve creating new pigment deposits into your skin in order to match an ink color to that of your surrounding skin tone.

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Discussing Scar Management Options With Your Plastic Surgeon

A consultation with a board certified plastic surgeon is essential for assessing and managing abdominoplasty scarring. During the consultation, ask about all the several factors to consider when it comes to treatment options, such as scar revision surgery, laser removal, and skin ointments.

Tummy tuck patients must be proactive in asking questions before making decisions about treatment options. Gathering information from qualified medical professionals helps them become more confident in their choices since they are informed of all possible risks and expected outcomes.

Frequently Asked Questions About Abdominoplasty Scar

1. Where is Abdominoplasty Surgery Performed?

Abdominoplasty surgery is typically performed in an outpatient surgical center or hospital, and can involve either general anesthesia or intravenous sedation with local anesthesia.

2. What Type of Scar will End Up After a Tummy Tuck?

One common outcome from abdominoplasty surgeries are the scars, usually surrounding the belly button and extending down to the pubic area. The shape, length, visibility and severity of these scars vary from individual to individual as it somewhat depends on their pre-existing skin elasticity.

An additional inverted T-shape scar may be needed if more extensive reshaping is necessary at the lower abdomen areas that go beyond what one single incision can provide alone.

3. How Long Does It Take for My Abdominoplasty Scar to Heal?

It depends on several factors such as genetics, healing progress and age. Generally, full healing for most patients occurs about six months post surgery when all resulting swelling subsides, completely leaving behind only faint white lines where once redness and discoloration were previously visible during the early stages after surgery.

This time frame only increases depending on the complexity of the procedure, so it’s best to seek consultation first before committing to any surgery.

4. Can Sun Exposure Cause Issues for My Abdominoplasty Scar?

Yes, sun exposure directly harms a scar from ultraviolet rays. With due damage caused, the rejuvenation process ends up slowing and compromising pigmentations, thereby inviting different problems inherently linked to melanoma. Regular sunscreen usage and shaded clothing will drastically reduce risks involved while encouraging healthier positives lifestyles.

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Conclusion and Summary of Abdominoplasty Scar Healing: Timeline and What to Expect

The outcome of an abdominoplasty procedure can be greatly influenced by proper pre and post-operative care. Taking good care of incisions through scar massage, antibiotic ointment application, and wearing pressure garments after the surgery can help in minimizing the visibility of standard tummy tuck scars.

Some topical treatments such as silicone sheets or scar cream may prove effective for further reducing abdominal disfigurement caused by scarring. Medical treatments such as steroid injections and laser skin resurfacing also provide relief from higher severity cases associated with abnormal scarring conditions like keloid formation and hypertrophic marks.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

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About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.