It’s been a few years since you had your tummy tuck surgery, and now you’re starting to wonder what the scar will look like after all this time. You’ve seen some pictures online of tummy tuck scars that are 5 or 6 years old, and they don’t look too bad. But you’re still not sure if yours will fade over time or not. This blog post will answer all of your questions about tummy tuck scars after 5 years!
- Tummy tuck: An Overview
- Who needs a tummy tuck?
- Types of Tummy Tuck Incisions
- What Do Tummy Tuck Scars Look Like?
- Tummy tuck scar healing: What to expect after five years
- Caring for the Tummy Tuck Scar
Tummy tuck: An Overview
A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a plastic surgery procedure used to alter the shape and appearance of the abdomen.
Excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen during a tummy tuck. Sutures are also commonly used to tighten connective tissue in the abdomen (fascia). The excess skin is then relocated for a more toned appearance.
If you have extra fat or skin around your belly button or a weak lower abdominal wall, you may benefit from a stomach tuck. A belly tuck might also improve your self-esteem.
Who needs a tummy tuck?
You may have extra fat, poor skin elasticity, or weaker connective tissue in your belly for various causes. These are some examples:
- Significant weight fluctuations
- C-sections and other abdominal surgeries
- Your biological body type
An abdominoplasty can remove extra skin and fat and tighten weak fascia. Stretch marks and excess skin in the lower abdomen below the belly button may also be removed with a tummy tuck. On the other hand, a tummy tuck will not repair stretch marks that are not in this area.
If you’ve had a C-section in the past, your plastic surgeon may be able to merge your existing C-section scar into your stomach tuck scar.
Abdominoplasty can be combined with other body sculpting aesthetic treatments, such as breast surgery. Suppose you’ve had fat removed from your abdomen (liposuction). In that case, you may want to consider having a tummy tuck since liposuction eliminates tissue just beneath the skin and fat but not extra skin.
Tummy tucks are not for everyone. Your doctor may advise you against having a stomach tuck if you are:
- Making a serious effort to reduce weight.
- Planning to extend your family (get pregnant) in the future
- Having a severe chronic illness, such as heart disease or diabetes
- Having a body mass index of more than 30
- Having undergone a previous abdominal surgery that resulted in a considerable amount of scar tissue
Types of Tummy Tuck Incisions
Tummy tuck incisions often span from hip bone to hip bone, with a tiny incision around the belly button. This enables your physician to remove all tissue beneath and slightly above the abdominal button. Stretch marks in that area will also be gone.
The belly button is moved out through a new aperture but remains on the abdominal wall in its original position. If liposuction is included in your operation, these extra incisions will be extremely small and will be made in an area of tissue that will be removed.
There are three types of tummy tuck incisions:
1) The standard tummy tuck incision is a horizontal incision just above the pubic area.
2) An extended tummy tuck incision is a horizontal incision that extends across the lower abdomen, from hip to hip. This type of tummy tuck is most often used for patients who have had multiple pregnancies or have significant amounts of excess skin and fat.
3) A vertical tummy tuck incision is a shorter incision, typically used for patients with only a tiny amount of excess skin and fat.
The mini tummy tuck is recommended for people with minor extra skin or roundness in the region right below the belly button. This is possible with a shorter incision, frequently the same length or slightly longer than a standard C-section scar. The incision and healing time for mini tummy tucks are often less than those for a standard abdominoplasty.
A longer incision may be advised for individuals who have a lot of extra skin owing to several pregnancies or a significant amount of weight reduction. Patients who have lost more than 100 pounds by gastric bypass or diet and exercise may have laxity and extra tissue that stretches horizontally and vertically. The procedure is sometimes referred to as a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck. In addition to the standard tummy tuck incision, it includes a vertical incision from the lower breastbone to the pubic bone. The final scar will resemble a sizeable upside-down T.
What Do Tummy Tuck Scars Look Like?
Unlike C-section scars, tummy tuck scars are usually thin and well-hidden by natural body contours.
Most tummy tuck scars will fade over time and will be barely noticeable. Tummy tuck scars that are located around the belly button often heal particularly well and are barely visible after a few months.
Several types of tummy tucks can be performed. You can get a full or more involved “full tummy tuck,” or you can get a “mini” tuck, which only focuses on a small area in the lower abdomen.
However, tummy tuck scarring may not always heal perfectly. In some cases, they may become keloid scars that are wider, redder, or lumpier than expected. If you experience any of these problems, be sure to consult your plastic surgeon.
The more extensive your abdominal contouring is, the longer it may take to recover fully. This is especially true if you opt for an extended tummy tuck because these can involve the flanks, lower back, and lower chest.
Tummy tuck scar healing: What to expect after five years
After a tummy tuck procedure, the incision typically takes about 1 to 2 weeks to close and heal. During this time, patients should practice appropriate wound care, keep the incision clean, and avoid submerging the incision. After this, patients will begin to notice their visible scars fading from red to pink and ultimately to a white or skin-coloured tone. This process can take up to 6 to 12 months, and topical ointments and other scar-reducing products can significantly improve the results.
As time passes, abdominoplasty scars are typically well-healed and have lightened in colour. Patients with darker skin tones usually end up with darker scars. It’s not uncommon for some surgical scars to take up to two years to lighten. In five years, a tummy tuck scar is almost always unnoticeable. It’s also worth noting that careful evaluation of the location of a tummy tuck incision can help conceal darker coloured scars when sporting your two-piece swimwear.
Caring for the Tummy Tuck Scar
No matter what incision you plan to have for your tummy tuck, it is essential to review your plastic surgeon’s aftercare program so that your incision heals with the best scar possible. Most surgeons use surgical glue and Steri-strips or paper tape at the time of surgery.
It is important to properly care for your tummy tuck scar to ensure that it heals well and fades over time. In the first few weeks after surgery, you should:
- Clean the wound gently with soap and water
- Apply a bandage or wrap to the area
- Avoid submerging the incision in water
- Take any prescribed medications
In the months following surgery, you should continue to practice good wound care by:
- Keeping the area clean and free of dirt and bacteria
- Avoiding sun exposure to the scar. It will be essential to keep your incision out of the direct sun and use sunscreen for the first several months after surgery to help your scar heal to its best potential.
- Applying a topical scar cream or ointment to help reduce swelling and fade the scar over time.
It will take a full year for the scar to completely fade.
What you can do if you still experience scarring
Your tummy tuck horizontal scar will be mainly healed after 12 weeks, but it may take up to a year to completely heal. You may wish to wait until it has healed before deciding whether or not to have any surgical treatments done to reduce its appearance.
Although these procedures will not fully erase the scar, they will enhance its size, colour, and texture.
Steroid injections and applications
To get rid of elevated, thick, or red scars, you can utilise steroid treatments or injections. These therapies can be given after surgery to avoid scarring or four weeks later to repair scarring.
The price will be determined by the size and severity of the scar. Typically, each therapy costs a few hundred dollars.
There are other laser treatments available. Vascular lasers work by collapsing the small blood vessels on the skin’s surface that create redness. Laser surfacing is one of the most effective methods for improving the texture and colour of scars. This technique can resurface the skin. Scarred skin is restored with healthy collagen, enhancing texture and tone overall.
Consult your doctor to determine how long you should wait before starting laser treatment. Laser treatments are not cheap. If you choose this therapy, you will most likely require two or more sessions spread out over a few months.
Scar revision surgery
If you want your hypertrophic scars to be closer to your natural skin tone and texture, scar revision surgery is possible. A mix of topical therapies, minimally invasive procedures, and surgical revision may be used by your doctor. The scar will still be there, but it will be less noticeable.
As with laser therapy, see your doctor and determine how long you should wait following your stomach tuck to have scar revision surgery. They may suggest you wait at least a year to monitor how your scar heals over time.
Punch grafting is a procedure that involves making a tiny hole in the skin with a little instrument. The scar is excised and replaced with skin from another part of your body, typically behind your ear. You’ll still have a spot, but it’ll be smoother and less visible.
Working closely with your plastic surgeon and surgery team to understand and prepare for post-surgery life can help make your recovery seamless. A tummy tuck can be an excellent way to achieve the aesthetic goals you have for yourself, just remember to be kind to your body, and focus on doing everything you can to recover fully from the procedure.