At first glance, a tummy tuck might almost seem too good to be true. With a single surgical procedure, you can get rid of that stubborn fat and flab that hangs around your stomach and achieve the tight, flat abdomen of your dreams.
Of course, there is one nagging question that many tummy tuck patients have: How long will the scarring last?
While your tummy tuck scars will never completely go away, they will fade considerably over time. Also, keep in mind that several factors can impact the long-term appearance of your scars.
Because there are so many different factors that can affect the appearance of your tummy tuck scars, the specific recovery timeline can look a little different from one patient to the next. With that said, here is a general sense of how your scars should change over time.
- Right after surgery. In the hours and days following your tummy tuck, the incision site may be raised, possibly a bit bumpy and tender. You can also anticipate some swelling, inflammation, and possibly even slight oozing. There will be skin glue on the surface that will be present for 10-14 days, acting to help seal off the incision from bacteria.
- One month later. A month after the procedure, your scar will likely appear pink, brown, or dark red depending on your skin tone and type. It may also still be raised or even a bit bumpy, which can be a little discouraging but only temporary. The scar will fade once more time passes.
- Two months later. Your scars may be pink/red/brown, puffy, and slightly elevated. By this point, the incisions themselves will be completely healed.
- Three months later. The scars will still be red or brown at the three-month mark, but they may also start looking flatter, less swollen.
- Six months later. While your scars will still be visible at the six-month mark, they will begin losing their pigmentation, which means the red or brown coloration will fade substantially.
- One year later. A year after your tummy tuck, the scarring will likely be much less noticeable. While your scars will not fade completely, they will blend in with the surrounding skin to the point of being only faintly visible.
What Minimizes Tummy Tuck Scars?
As for specific factors that can impact your tummy tuck scars, here are a few things to keep in mind.
The Doctor’s Technique and Ability
One of the main factors will be the experience of your surgeon. Simply put, a plastic surgeon who is more adept and skilled will be better able to keep the incision less obvious. Your doctor will likely conceal the scar within a fold of skin and/or close the sutures in a way that minimizes visible scarring. A good way to ensure your surgeon has the necessary skill level is to verify that they are board-certified. Asking to see before and after images may also offer some assurances. The good news is Dr. Herbstman has several options for patients to help visibly reduce the appearance of scars after surgery. He will make those recommendations within the first few weeks of healing so scar treatment can begin early in the healing process.
Following Post-Op Instructions
By carefully adhering to the surgeon’s post-surgical instructions, you can further reduce the visibility of your scars.
Your surgeon will offer some specific directions before you go in for the procedure, but general guidelines include:
- Protect your scar from the sun; be vigilant in sunscreen use for at least a year after your procedure.
- Refrain from smoking for at least six weeks following your tummy tuck. (Smoking can interfere with your body’s ability to heal.)
- Stay hydrated and ensure a healthy, nutrient-rich diet throughout your recovery.
Herbstman will provide you with an excellent moisturizer for skin healing and make specific recommendations regarding additional scar treatment products that we offer.
- Steer clear of any strenuous physical activity for at least six weeks.
With the right surgeon and aftercare, you can ensure your scarring winds up being pretty close to invisible. To see for yourself, take a look at our before and after gallery.
If you have any additional questions regarding tummy tuck scarring or schedule a consultation, contact Contemporary Plastic Surgery in New Jersey.