After undergoing a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, an inevitable scar appears at the incision site, typically horizontally from hip to hip beneath the belly button. In some instances, an additional scar might develop vertically from the belly button or encircle it. Scarring is a natural consequence of healing from an incision. Every surgical procedure, be it minor or major, results in scar formation. However, there are methods to lessen their visibility.
Specialist Plastic Surgeon Dr Bish Soliman performs different tummy tuck – abdominoplasty techniques and is dedicated to delivering optimal outcomes for his patients.
Understanding the Tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty
A tummy tuck, known scientifically as Abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgical procedure designed to remove extra fat and skin from the abdomen, enhancing its overall appearance. This treatment might also entail tightening the abdominal muscles and liposuction, resulting in a more defined appearance.
The tummy tuck – abdominoplasty is suitable for individuals who, after considerable weight loss due to obesity, wish to get rid of excess skin in their abdomen. Furthermore, it can be combined with or follow other body cosmetic procedures, like liposuction, which removes excess fat but doesn’t address the resulting loose skin.
However, those anticipating pregnancy should perhaps delay their tummy tuck – abdominoplasty until they have completed their family, as it might compromise the surgery’s aesthetic benefits. The procedure is also unsuitable for:
- People with obesity carrying significant visceral fat
- Those planning major weight loss
- Individuals with blood-clotting issues or underlying health conditions
- Those with a BMI above 35-40 due to heightened risks during healing
Important Considerations before a Tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty
Prior to a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, clarity on the anticipated outcome is paramount, and Dr Soliman will advise on the specific tummy tuck – abdominoplasty variant best suited to your goals. While all abdominoplasties aim for a trimmer abdomen, outcomes differ based on body shape, target areas, and recovery duration. Common choices include:
- Mini Tummy tuck – abdominoplasty: Focused on the lower abdomen beneath the navel, this method does away with excess fat or skin. It doesn’t necessitate repositioning the belly button and is perfect for those with minor to moderate fat or sag below the navel. Recovery generally lasts one to two weeks
- Full or Standard Tummy tuck – abdominoplasty: This technique addresses excess fat and skin on the abdominal wall, often requiring the belly button’s repositioning. Typically, recovery spans two to four weeks. It’s ideal for those with moderate fat or saggy skin around their midriff and post-pregnancy women with skin laxity above the belly button
- Circumferential Tummy tuck – abdominoplasty: The most extensive variant, it removes substantial fat and skin from the lower abdomen, back, waist, and buttocks. Primarily for those who’ve undergone massive weight loss, especially post-bariatric surgery. Typically, it takes four to six weeks to resume normal activities and ten to twelve weeks for more vigorous tasks
It’s crucial to realise that a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty isn’t a weight loss substitute; it only addresses a limited amount of fat or skin in the abdomen. If you weren’t at your target weight pre-procedure, weight loss elsewhere is still needed. The procedure won’t obliterate all stretch marks – only those in the removal zone. Maintaining a nutritious diet pre-surgery can expedite post-op recovery.
Potential Risks of Abdominoplasties
Like all surgeries, abdominoplasties have inherent risks, which include:
- Deep vein thrombosis and cardiac complications
- Haematoma (blood build-up)
- Seroma (fluid build-up)
- Persistent abdominal pain, bruising, or tenderness post-scarring
- Inadequate wound healing
- The potential need for revision surgery due to ongoing skin laxity or loss
- Numbness or diminished sensation in the abdomen
- Skin discolouration
- Unpleasing scarring or aesthetic outcome
Under general anaesthesia, the procedure begins with an incision above the pubic area. A secondary incision might be necessary to detach the belly button and remove upper abdominal skin. Dr Soliman will remove excess skin and fat between the navel and pubic zone, tighten the abdominal connective tissue with sutures, pull down the upper skin and secure it. The navel might be repositioned through a new opening and fixed with stitches. Post-surgery, the incisions are dressed, and drainage tubes are installed to drain excess fluid.
Post-Surgery Care Tips
Post-procedure, strict adherence to Dr Soliman’s guidelines is crucial for wound care and healing. Regular follow-up visits are necessary for wound monitoring. Medications might be prescribed for pain and swelling relief. Early mobility can mitigate blood clot risks. The drainage tubes remain until deemed unnecessary, and a supportive binder should be worn to assist healing and decrease inflammation. For six weeks post-surgery, activities causing abdominal strain should be avoided. Assistance with daily chores is advisable during this period.
Dr Soliman might suggest treatments like scar creams, silicone gel sheets, antibiotic ointments, or cocoa butter to mitigate the scar’s appearance. Scar massages could be advised a few weeks post-operation to enhance blood flow and soften scar tissue. Proper wound cleaning is pivotal, and any signs of potential infection should be promptly reported to your plastic surgeon.
Scar Management Techniques
Although abdominoplasty invariably results in scarring, the scar’s appearance can be managed and enhanced through several methods:
- Steroid Injections: Beneficial for elevated or dense scars
- Laser Skin Resurfacing: Utilises heat and light to promote new skin cell and collagen growth, alleviating scar tightness and discomfort
- Scar Revision Surgery: Effective for atypical scars like keloids, this procedure is usually undertaken 12-18 months post-op
10 Tips to Minimise Abdominoplasty Scars
- Follow Post-Operative Care: Adhere strictly to Dr Bish’s post-operative care instructions. This might include wound cleaning, application of ointments, and restrictions on activities
- Avoid Sun Exposure: UV rays can darken the scar, making it more noticeable. Keep the scar covered or use a high-SPF sunscreen if exposure is unavoidable
- Stay Hydrated and Eat Well: Proper nutrition and hydration can aid in skin healing. Foods rich in vitamins C and E, zinc, and protein can help in scar repair
- Silicone Sheets/Gels: These products can help reduce scar thickness and discolouration. They keep the scar hydrated, which can reduce its appearance over time
- Gentle Massaging: Once the wound has fully healed, gently massaging the scar can help break down the scar tissue and improve blood circulation, leading to a softer and less visible scar
- Avoid Smoking: Smoking restricts blood flow, hindering the healing process. It can result in more noticeable scars and a longer recovery period
- Limit Physical Strain: Avoid activities that might strain or stretch the scar, especially during the initial healing phase. This will prevent scar widening or hypertrophy
- Wear Compression Garments: Your plastic surgeon may recommend wearing a compression garment. This can reduce swelling and support the healing tissues, potentially resulting in a less noticeable scar
- Monitor for Infections: Infections can worsen scar appearance. If you notice excessive redness, warmth, or any discharge from the wound, contact your medical team immediately
- Consider Scar Treatments: Once the initial healing phase is over, there are several treatments that can further improve scar appearance, including laser therapy, microdermabrasion, and certain injections. Consult with Dr Soliman about options that might be suitable for you
It’s always essential to communicate with your plastic surgeon regarding any concerns you might have during the recovery phase. Dr Soliman can provide tailored advice and interventions if needed.
FAQs about Tummy Tuck Scars – Abdominoplasty Scars
How long does it typically take for a tummy tuck scar to fully heal?
- A tummy tuck – abdominoplasty scar generally undergoes multiple stages of healing. Initially, it might appear red and raised, but over the course of several months, it will begin to fade and flatten. While the scar can take up to a year or more to mature and reach its final appearance, most of the significant healing will occur in the first 6 to 12 months post-surgery. It’s essential to protect the scar from the sun, as sun exposure can darken it, making it more noticeable.
What can I do to optimise the appearance of my tummy tuck scar during recovery?
- Optimal scar care involves several steps. Firstly, always follow the aftercare instructions provided by Dr Soliman. Keeping the scar moisturised with recommended ointments can aid in its healing. Avoid direct sun exposure on the scar for at least a year; if you do go out in the sun, use a strong sunscreen or protective clothing. Some patients find that massaging the scar (once fully healed) can help to soften it and break down scar tissue. Additionally, there are over-the-counter silicone sheets and gels that many believe help in reducing the appearance of scars.
How long should I wait before resuming exercise after a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty?
- Post a tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty), it’s crucial to give your body ample time to heal before resuming strenuous activities. Light activities such as walking can be resumed after a couple of weeks. However, more vigorous exercises, especially those that strain the abdominal muscles, should be avoided for at least 6-8 weeks post-surgery. Always consult with Dr Bish before restarting any form of exercise to ensure you’re healing properly and not putting unnecessary stress on the surgical site.
Can I undergo another abdominal surgery after having a tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty)?
- Yes, you can have another abdominal surgery after a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty. However, it’s vital to fully discuss your medical history and prior surgeries with your plastic surgeon before undergoing further procedures. For women who plan to have more children, it’s often recommended to wait until after childbirth to have a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, as subsequent pregnancies can alter the results of the initial procedure.
Is it normal for the tummy tuck scar or abdominoplasty scar to become itchy during recovery?
- Yes, it’s common for surgical scars, including those from a tummy tuck – abdominoplasty, to become itchy as they heal. This is part of the body’s natural healing process. It’s crucial not to scratch the scar, as this can worsen its appearance and potentially introduce infection. If itchiness becomes bothersome, discuss it with Dr Soliman, who may recommend creams or ointments to alleviate the sensation.
Are there any signs that might indicate a problem with my tummy tuck scar or abdominoplasty scar during recovery?
- While some redness, swelling, and discomfort are expected in the initial weeks following the surgery, there are certain signs that could indicate complications. Excessive swelling, warmth, yellow or green discharge, worsening pain, or an unpleasant odour emanating from the surgical site could indicate an infection. Darkening of the scar, especially if exposed to the sun, can suggest hyperpigmentation. If you notice any of these symptoms or are concerned about your scar’s appearance or healing process, it’s essential to seek advice from Dr Soliman promptly.
Further Reading about Body Surgery with Dr Bish Soliman
- Read Dr Soliman’s Body Contouring Surgery Page
- Read Dr Soliman’s Abdominoplasty Surgery Page
- Read Dr Soliman’s Excess Skin Removal Surgery Page
- Read Dr Soliman’s Liposuction Surgery Page
- Read Dr Bish’s Blog about Medicare for Abdominoplasty
- Read Dr Bish’s Blog about Medicare Coverage for Post Pregnancy Procedures
- Read Dr Bish’s Blog about Do You Have Split Tummy Muscles?