Will My Tummy Tuck Leave a Visible Scar?

A tummy tuck is a very common procedure. Its professional name is an abdominoplasty and it is requested by people who have lost drastic amounts of weight in a short time. When people lose weight quickly, they are left with loose skin, tissue and fat around the tummy and abdomen that can be unsightly and uncomfortable. The purpose of the tummy tuck is to remove that excess tissue and return the tight and smooth skin over the stomach. Many people would like to undergo the surgery, but they are concerned about a noticeable scar at the incision point.

What Is the Procedure Specifically?

Men and women who have lost a great deal of weight or women who had a baby often have loose skin around the belly. The skin, when it is stretched, can’t always return to its original form. It needs to be removed for a more attractive look. Often, the surgery is combined with liposuction to smooth the tissue under the skin as well. Most cosmetic surgeons will offer different levels of the abdominoplasty, such as a mini or full version depending on patient need.

The procedure itself involves making an incision across the lower area of the abdomen and then removing excess skin and tissue. Of course, any surgery like this will leave a scar of some type. Quality plastic surgeons will make the incision as low as possible so that it will be less noticeable on the patient. They will also provide information that the patient can use to lessen the chance of scarring.

What Kind of Scarring to Expect?

Each person will recover differently, and there is no specific way to guarantee the exact amount of scarring to expect. However, if you follow your surgeon’s orders exactly, then you can definitely minimize the scar in the long run. A few of the things you need to remember include:

  • Don’t exercise until your doctor gives you the go ahead. You need to give the incision and muscles time to heal.
  • During the first week or two while you have stitches, do not do anything strenuous. You should avoid anything more than short walks down the hall until all stitches and drains are removed. If you pull any of your stitches, scarring will be more extensive.
  • You will be given a supportive garment. Wear it as the doctor orders.

There are also things you can do over the next few months and years to minimize the look of scarring in the area.

Things to Do

Always consult with your plastic surgeon before you do anything in an attempt to minimize your scar. A few things you could consider include:

  • Avoid too much sunlight. Scarring will discolor if you get a tan in the area and you could end up with a red or darkened line that you feel is unattractive. For at least a year after the surgery, avoid direct sunlight and always use sunscreen.
  • Use petroleum jelly on the incision marks as they heal (after stitches have been removed). This will keep the skin soft while it heals to avoid extensive scarring.
  • Don’t smoke. Studies show that smoking will actually have a negative impact on the scarring and how skin heals.

If you have a tummy tuck, you need to be prepared for some level of scarring. This is a result of the incision. However, when you choose a high quality plastic surgeon, then you can expect the scarring to be minimalized. Additionally, you should always follow doctor’s orders during your recovery; any deviations could result in more scarring. Everyone scars differently, but you can take steps to minimize the results from your tummy tuck.

Which Surgeries Take the Most Time to Heal?

Most patients want to know immediately how long they will need to recover from a plastic surgery procedure. Questions often arise like, “how long will I be in pain?” or “when can I go back to work?” The most important thing for any person to remember is to be realistic about the recovery time. There will be discomfort and there will be periods when you need to rest and relax without doing anything strenuous.

It’s hard to specifically pinpoint exactly how long it will take you to recover after a surgery simply because each person heals differently. You may experience discomfort a little longer than another patient or you may be back on your feet more quickly. You should always go into any plastic surgery procedure with a realistic outlook on recovery times.

Below is a guide to full recovery. This means going beyond healing, discomfort and having to slow down your life. At the end of this period, you should be able to return to your life as normal. These procedures below do take the longest to recover.

Liposuction (up to three months)

While many patients think of this as a relatively non-invasive procedure, liposuction does take one of the longest recovery times of any cosmetic surgery. The exact time will depend on the extent of the liposuction and the area of the body where you need work. Some of the reasons why recovery will take longer include:

  • Lumps and bumps under the skin will need to smooth out.
  • Pain will come from scar tissue stretching as it heals.
  • Skin will feel tight or taught and will take time to become supple again.

Tummy Tuck (2-3 months)

A tummy tuck does take a great deal of recovery time that you will need to spend keeping to very light activities. Generally, you will need at least two months to get back to regular activities in your life and you can experience numbness in the area for up to a year.

Facelift (two months)

The bruising and swelling from a facelift will take at least a couple of months before it goes down. You may feel that you need to stay at home during the first month since you will experience discomfort. Expect some numbness around the ears for at least two months as well.

Breast Reduction (two months)

This procedure does take longer to completely heal than an augmentation because a larger incision and more sutures are required.

Breast Augmentation (six weeks)

You can’t expect your breasts to look like the final results for at least a month and a half. At that time, any swelling or bruising should go down and you should have the shape and form you were wishing for. You may expect numbness under the breasts for several months after the surgery as well.

Rhinoplasty (six weeks)

Your nose job will come along with swelling, bruising and stiffness. It will take more than a month for everything to go back to normal. Because of swelling inside your nose, your breathing could be affected for a longer period of time.

Keep in mind that there is a difference between full and functional recovery. The numbers above refer to full recovery. That means you will be to the point when everything is back to normal completely. Your functional recovery could be shorter and this refers to the time when you can go back to basic daily activities. Always follow your plastic surgeon’s direction as far as returning to strenuous activity, like sports. If you have any concerns about your expected recovery time, always ask your surgeon before you make an appointment to have the procedure done.


What Should I Look for in a Surgeon?

It is important to choose the right cosmetic surgeon no matter what procedure you wish to have done. A quality surgeon should have the right combination of skills, qualifications and experience to provide high quality services to each patient. You have several tools at your disposal that will help you choose the right plastic surgeon for your own procedure. Be sure to use all of them to make your final decision.

The American Board of Plastic Surgery

The first place to look when choosing any cosmetic surgeon would be the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Any physician you pick should be a member of this board, which shows they went through an extensive qualifications and certification process. When considering a professional or group, don’t be afraid to inquire about membership and board certification. Additionally, you can search for doctors through the website at www.abplsurg.org.

Education and Background

Always ask about education and qualifications when choosing a cosmetic surgeon. Generally, any professional will show you all of their qualifications and this can give you more background information about them and their abilities.

Most plastic surgeons will have specialty training, and this can often be a guideline for choosing the right doctor depending on the procedure you need. Specialty training is certainly not required and numerous surgeons are capable of handling a wide variety of procedures as well. However, if you have specific concerns about your plastic surgery, then you can inquire about specialties and specialist education background.

Keep in mind that many plastic surgeons have medical qualifications that you may need to understand a little more. A good example of this would be an ear, nose and throat surgeon who has the medical education and can also provide the cosmetic procedures for rhinoplasty.

Asking the Right Questions

When you think you have found the right cosmetic surgeon, you still need to ask questions. If you can, either speak to the professional over the telephone or in a consultation meeting. If you ask the right questions, you will get the information you need to make your final decisions. Some of the things that you should ask include the following:

  • How long have you been a cosmetic surgeon?
  • Have you performed the procedure I want specifically? If so, then how many times in a year?
  • How many years have you been performing this specific procedure?
  • Have any of your patients required revision surgery after their cosmetic procedure with you?
  • Have you had any complaints from previous patients?
  • Can you provide me with references?

If you have any further questions, be sure to ask them while you have the chance. This will make it easier for you to make the right decision.

Asking About Your Procedure

It is also a good idea to ask about your procedure specifically. Different professionals will have different opinions about the results you hope to achieve, the experience and the cost. Ask the following before choosing a cosmetic surgeon.

  • Based on what I want done, can I expect the results I want realistically?
  • How long will I need to stay in recovery before going home?
  • How often will I need to come in for follow-ups during recovery?
  • Will you be doing the operation specifically?
  • What are the risks involved in this procedure?
  • What is the cost to get the procedure done?

If you look only for board certified plastic surgeons that have the right combination of skills, experience and education, you should easily find the right professional for the procedure you want done. When you think you have found the best surgeon, be sure to ask numerous questions before making an appointment.