Blog, Body surgery

How to minimise scars after a tummy tuck

A tummy tuck is one of the most popular procedures for those who have been pregnant or lost a significant amount of weight. When this happens, you may be left with sagging or excess skin around the abdomen. This will be immune to a healthy diet and exercise. The best way to get rid of excess skin is through a tummy tuck. 

While it is popular, it is one of the rare cosmetic surgeries where you will be left with a noticeable scar. This can often be offputting for people who are considering having this procedure. However, it is important to keep in mind that the scar will often look better than the excess skin. The scars will also naturally fade over time. However, there are some things you can do to help ensure your scar is minimised. 

Before your surgery 

Did you know that looking after your scar starts before you’ve even had the surgery? There are a few pre-op steps you can take to ensure you end up with the most discrete scar. 

Before surgery, make sure you:

Find out about your surgeon: make sure you only go to a qualified surgeon. Check if they are registered (if they are in the UK, they will need to be on the GMC register). Make sure you meet with your surgeon before having the procedure. Find out how many times they have performed a tummy tuck, and ask to see before and after photos. This way you’ll be able to see how their past surgeries have turned out and will able to get an idea of how the scar will look on you. If you feel uncomfortable discussing this with your surgeon, or have not seen appropriate evidence of their work, consider looking elsewhere. 

Stop smoking: smoking can impact on the recovery period. Smoking constricts blood vessels, which leads to low oxygen and cell death, which can cause complications with wound healing. We recommend that you stop smoking at least six weeks prior to your tummy tuck. You will also need to stop smoking throughout the recovery period. Smoking tests may be carried out prior to you having your procedure. If the surgeon thinks you have been smoking, they may consider the surgery to be too risky, and it may be cancelled.

Know about your scar: make sure you know exactly where your scar will be located, and what type of scar you have. Different surgical methods will be used, so your scar may look different to what you’ve seen in photographs. You may wish to bring your bikini into the consultation; this will allow you to get an idea of where the scar will be and if it will be visible while you’re wearing your bikini. The positioning of the scar will vary depending on where your excess skin is located.

After your surgery

Following your tummy tuck, there are several steps you can take to ensure your scar looks as good as possible. These include:

Follow the surgeon’s instructions: these are given for a reason. The surgeon will give you hygiene rules which you will need to follow. This will help your wound to heal faster.

Exercise: you will have to avoid vigorous physical exercise for around six weeks. This includes any heavy lifting. If you have young children you have to look after, you will have to consider how they are going to be cared for during this period. Undertaking heavy lifting and abdominal exercise may result in damage to the incision. While you will have to avoid strenuous exercise, you are encouraged to be mobile as soon as possible. Walking around will help to prevent blood clots and will reduce swelling.

Monitor the incision site: you may be wearing bandages or compression garments, but it is important to keep checking on the incision site throughout the recovery period. This will avoid the risk of infection occurring. Infection can cause other problems, but may also result in a scar that is larger than necessary. Signs of infection include excessive bleeding, increased swelling or bruising, severe pain, yellowish or greenish drainage seeping from the wound, or a high temperature. 

Stay healthy: staying hydrated and eating a balanced diet can help to increase your immune system, which will help the wound to heal faster. You may wish to take vitamin C supplements or eat a protein-rich diet to help the recovery period. During the recovery period, it is also important to avoid smoking to ensure you do not have any complications.

Use topical creams or ointments: your surgeon may recommend or prescribe a certain cream or ointment for you to use. This should be used once the incision site has totally closed and has no more scabbing. If your surgeon has not prescribed you a particular ointment or cream, you may wish to buy one that contains silicone, vitamin E or cocoa butter. These can help to improve the appearance of the scar, as well as keep it moisturised.

Stay out of the sun: for the first year following your procedure, it is important to limit the amount of sun exposure the scar will get. You can do this by wearing long clothing or by applying sunscreen. When you are applying sunscreen, we recommend using SPF 50+. Scars react differently in the sun than the rest of your skin; if your scar is burnt, it may end up darker than your surrounding skin, as well as thicker in appearance.

What happens if you’re still unhappy with the scar

The recovery period may take up to 12 weeks, however, it may take a full year before the incision scar is fully recovered. After this period, if you have a scar that looks aesthetically unappealing, there are numerous options you can undertake to improve the scar:

Scar revision: you can undertake a surgical scar revision, which will remove the scar and the surrounding skin. You will then be left with a new scar which will look smaller than your original scar. 

Laser: some clinics will offer laser as an option to remove scars. If you are considering this, it is best to check with your surgeon on how long you will have to wait after your procedure before you can begin having laser treatments. 

Punch grafts: this involves a hole being made in the skin, which allows for the scar to be removed and replaced by new skin from a donor area of the body (generally from behind the ear). This will leave you with a new scar that looks smaller and smoother. 

Non-surgical options: there is a variety of non-surgical options you can undertake to improve the appearance of a scar, including steroid injections, microdermabrasion and chemical skin peels.

If you are considering having a tummy tuck, it is important to remember that you will be left with a scar, however, there are treatment options, and the thought of a scar shouldn’t put you off having the procedure. 

Are you interested in having a tummy tuck? This is a procedure London Lipo Institute currently offers. Contact us today to find out more or to book a consultation.