Tummy Tuck is a very popular procedure worldwide, as it gives a whole new look by making the abdomen flat, firm and youthful after the effects of pregnancy, childbirth and weight gain. In fact, 96% of patients who had a tummy tuck said it was ‘worth it’.
In this Blog, we will discuss what type of scarring you can expect from having a tummy tuck.
The amount of scarring you experience from your tummy tuck will depend on a number of factors. The main factor is what type of tummy tuck procedure you have. For a full tummy tuck, a bikini line incision is made, which usually runs from hipbone to hipbone. The incision for a mini tummy tuck is usually significantly smaller and only a little larger than the average caesarean section incision scar.
For patients who are considering a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, the cost of the tummy tuck is important.
Best Tummy Tuck Scars
The exact placement of the incision scar from a tummy tuck differs in every patient. Factors which influence the scar placement include individual anatomical characteristics such as abdominal girth, the position of the umbilicus, the presence of stretch marks and the truncal height. In most cases the incision scar will be placed where it is possible for the patient to still wear low cut jeans or a swimsuit or bikini bottoms without it showing. A good idea is to take your swimsuit with you to your consultations so your surgeon can make changes to the site or shape of the tummy tuck incision if this is possible.
Tummy Tuck Belly Button Scar
In a full tummy tuck procedure, there will also be some scarring around the belly button as it is moved and reshaped during the surgery. As the tension of the skin is also affected by the tummy tuck surgery, there will also commonly be some upwards shifting of the initial scar. If a caesarean scar is present, the tummy tuck incision will be below that and the caesarean scar removed
Fleur de Lis Tummy Tuck
One tummy tuck procedure that can leave a significant amount of scarring is the T-incision or Fleur de Lis Tummy Tuck. This type of tummy tuck can remove inferior and central fat and skin for a better contoured abdominal shape, but the incision runs from hipbone to hipbone and from the pubic bone to where the ribs meet. It is best to discuss with your plastic surgeon what type of tummy tuck will suit your needs.
Does a Tummy Tuck Leave a Scar?
Another factor which can influence the extent of the tummy tuck scar is whether the patient experiences keloid or hypertrophic scars. In these cases, scarring can be minimised through the use of silicone therapy after the tummy tuck procedure has taken place and the incision wound has fully healed.
Most specialist plastic surgeons are able to perform the tummy tuck and create a low lying, well placed scar that can be hidden by most garments. It is best to discuss with your surgeon prior to surgery what type of scarring you can expect to have after your tummy tuck, but with some careful preoperative planning, a skilled surgeon and a well healed incision, you’ll be able to focus on your flatter, firmer abdomen rather than your tummy tuck scar.
Scar Minimisation For Tummy Tuck Using Silicone Therapy
With radical surgical procedures, such as tummy tuck, scars are inevitable. But, with proper aftercare, they can diminish significantly over time. Whatever the case, scarring is an acceptable bargain for drastic aesthetic improvements and relief that abdominoplasty brings.
Patients who have undergone a tummy tuck usually want to reduce the scarring as much as possible. Silicone therapy has been scientifically proven to assist in the reduction of scarring and is often used after a tummy tuck to minimise the scarring associated with the tummy tuck incision.
Common Locations of Tummy Tuck Scars
Depending on the type of abdominoplasty, scars can appear in different areas of the body. The usual ones are:
- Belly button,
- Lower abdomen
- Vertical midline abdominal scar (if it is a fleur-de-lys abdominoplasty)
Belly Button Scars
- A scar around the belly button is a common consequence of full abdominoplasty. However, it is not as bad as it might seem. At first, of course, this scar is very prominent. But, as time goes by, it tends to blend in with the belly button, disappearing almost completely.
Lower Abdomen Scars
- A horizontal scar in the lower abdomen is usual after tummy tuck surgery.It is an unavoidable consequence of abdominoplasty, regardless of the type.
- It does not need to have the same length for every patient.
- With a mini tummy tuck, it can be only a few centimetres. In some female patients, there is an option of “blending” the pelvic area scar with the C-section one.
- The aesthetic appeal of lower abdomen scars depends on your skin proneness to scarring and its healing potential. Surgeons’ abilities and potential complications, such as infections, may also contribute to an unsatisfying result.
Vertical Midline Scars
- But, sometimes, surgeons need to make an additional vertical incision. That leaves a scar running down from the belly button to the horizontal incision. It’s particularly worrying for patients as it is difficult to conceal with clothes (underwear, swimsuit, etc.).
Stages of Scarring After a Tummy Tuck
We can divide the scar formation process into three distinct phases:
- Wound closure
The first stage lasts from three to four weeks. That’s how much time your body needs to create enough collagen fibers to close the surgical incision.
- Scar creation
The process continues after closure. Collagen fibers accumulate at the wound site to further strengthen the area. Your body enables a good blood supply to the site to boost scar formation. As a result, the scar usually becomes thicker and darker than the surrounding skin. The entire process lasts between three and six months.
When the scar creation process is over, the blood supply diminishes, and some collagen fibers break down. That flattens and lightens the scar, making it less prominent. It is a long process that can last up to two years. Therefore, patience is vital. The scar will look worse before it gets better. So, keep your morale high and do not fall into the trap of discouragement. During the phase of maturation, the colour and consistency of the scar changes very much like the four seasons.
- In the first 3- 4 months the scar is red, raised and chord like. This is due to the excessive deposition of collagen and the ingrowth of blood vessels that is necessary for wound healing and strengthening.
- The next 3- 4 months will see a gradual reduction in the size of the scar as the body remodels the scar and removes the excess collagen. The arteries gradually fade away and the veins remain. This coincides with the colour of the scar becoming purple
- The next 6-8 months will see a further reduction and remodelling of the scar.
With accompanying changes in the veins, the colour of the scar becomes dark blue, grey, and finally pale white. The scar becomes softer and what was once raised, becomes flat and flush with the skin surface.
Tummy Tuck Scar Minimisation and Treatments
Tummy tuck scars are there to stay. Removing them is almost impossible. However, there are some things you can do to hide them or minimize their appearance.
The healing process is crucial for the future scar appearance. It is when you can do the most to help your wound “close” properly. Some skincare tricks can help the scars improve gradually.
Here are the six crucial tips:
1. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
You will want your surgical wound to heal fast and without complications. Therefore, you’ll have to take proper care of it. Hygiene is essential. Make sure to follow the instructions about cleansing and dressing the incision. Avoid strenuous activities and consult your doctor about any suspicious changes without delay.
2. Stay alert for signs of infection.
Infections are the biggest enemy of the wound healing process. They can make scars more prominent. Long-term neglecting may lead to complications, such as:
- Abscess formation,
- Tissue necrosis,
- Bacteremia, and
3. Moisturize the scar area.
Moisturizing does not directly affect the appearance of the scar. However, it keeps the skin in good condition and prevents irritation, creating optimal conditions for recovery.
4. Avoid sun exposure.
Scar tissue does not like UV light. Exposing your scars to the sun can cause them to thicken or change colour, making them more prominent.
5. Keep the scar away from harsh cosmetics and irritating clothes.
The irritation makes scars look worse. Try using simple skincare products and wear non-irritating clothes.
6. Silicone therapy for scar minimisation following tummy tuck surgery
Once the wound closes completely, you can start using topical products. Various silicone-based gels and creams effectively stop collagen production (scar formation). Topical vitamin E and cocoa butter creams may be a quality addition too.
Silicone therapy is available in the form of silicone sheets and topical creams or gels which are applied to the affected area to minimise scarring. The therapy starts once the incision would have fully healed, and though this varies from patient to patient typically it begins about two to three weeks following surgery.
It is important to allow your scars to heal before using silicone therapy. However, once the surgery site has healed you may start using silicone therapy with a silicone gel sheet or gel cream.
A silicone gel sheet can be worn for about three months after surgery. A silicone gel sheet is a thin plastic-like film that is worn over the scar area, and it should fit very tight against the skin. The benefits of silicone gel sheets are that they are easy to put on, and it covers a larger surface area than silicone gel cream.
There are different types of silicone gel formulations that can be applied earlier, but it is best to ask your Plastic Surgeon as to which product is most suitable for you.
Silicone sheets come are of two types.
- Ones that have an adhesive and
- the other that does not have an adhesive requiring you to affix the tape over the scar using tape.
If you are using a silicone tape for scar, it is good to test if your skin is sensitive to silicone tape before applying on the scar. Apply a test patch of silicone tape for 4- 6 hours and see if your skin can tolerate this. If there is no visible reaction, then it is OK to start using the tape on the scar.
When Silicone sheets are being used, they should be kept on for a minimum of 12- 24 hours a day for a minimum period of three to four months, though this timeframe can vary between patients and it is best to discuss with your surgeon how long you should wear the silicone sheets for, and for how many hours per day. In high-risk patients who are at risk for keloid scarring silicone therapy can be used for as long as 12- 18 months.
Patients prefer the silicone tape for tummy tuck scars as it is user friendly and effective. Silicone gel application is clumsy and usually ends up in the clothing.
There has never been a better time to have Tummy Tuck Surgery
With modern techniques and recent technological advancements, Tummy Tuck Surgery has become safer, effective and capable of delivering results that you always wanted with minimal pain, discomfort and downtime. A well trained Plastic Surgeon using modern techniques can offer you better and longer lasting results while the specialist Anaesthetist ensures your safety and comfort in a setting of an accreditedHospital.
As with any medical procedure, it is important to seek the advice of a specialist plastic surgeon. Each person’s anatomy is different and an examination and evaluation by a Plastic Surgeon will help determine the most appropriate and effective approach to meet your particular needs.
Is tummy tuck covered by Medicare or private health insurance?
Tummy tuck when performed after massive weight loss is eligible for Medicare benefits and health fund rebates subject to satisfying strict criteria defined by Medicare. If the patient has private health insurance, generally they are able to claim back a portion of the surgical fee, the anaesthetic fee and the cost of their hospital stay. Tummy tuck to reverse changes due to pregnancy and childbirth are no longer eligible for Medicare benefits and health fund support.
The Value and Expertise of a Registered Specialist Surgeon for Tummy Tuck Surgery
Forme Institute Specialists Surgeons are trained to the highest Australian standards
- AHPRA registered specialists in the medical specialty of Plastic Surgery (plastic surgery includes cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery)
- Completed Australian Medical Council accredited surgical training and exams conducted by the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). FRACS stands for Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, a qualification awarded only to those doctors who have successfully completed several years of rigorous surgical training. With a commitment to lifelong learning and high standards of professionalism. Consider this qualification when choosing a surgeon.
- Have a lifelong commitment to excellence in cosmetic surgery through research and continuous professional development and membership in learned societies like the Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ASAPS) and the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).
These qualifications, standards, and certifications are the ‘Australian Standard’ and significantly different from those who are unregistered surgeons who call themselves “cosmetic surgeons”.
These factors must be taken into consideration when evaluating your surgeon. If any, the cost difference should be evaluated in terms of the value attached to personal safety and well-being, the value attached to the quality of care, and the value attached to natural long-lasting results.
We appreciate you giving up your valuable time to read this. Has the article been helpful? We would love to hear your comments. If you need additional information to help your cosmetic surgery decision making process just send me a quick email and we may be able to help.
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