There are a lot of things to prepare for when it comes to your tummy tuck surgery. After you’ve met with your board-certified plastic surgeon and put your surgical date on the calendar, it’s important to take the right steps to get ready. In between meal prepping and setting up your recovery area, however, one important step is preparing yourself and your mindset for what happens during your recovery and beyond. It’s easy to imagine your ultimate results with a newer, flatter you, but one important thing to keep in mind is that it’ll be longer than you think before you’ll feel comfortable showing off your new stomach.
That’s because scarring is a regular part of the surgery. It can be helpful to be mentally prepared for this so it’s not so defeating to see during your recovery. In fact, there are some steps you can take during your recovery and in the months following to make sure your scar is as discrete as possible. Although Dr. Kayastha can recommend your best options, here’s what to know about tummy tuck scars and what you can do about them.
The size of your scar will largely depend on your unique procedure. Traditional tummy tucks will have a medium amount of scarring versus the fleur-de-lis and circumferential tummy tucks, which will require more extensive incisions for best results. The mini tummy tuck will have the least amount of scarring because it limits itself to a smaller area.
So, although your tummy tuck scar can be larger or smaller depending on your unique procedure, every surgical procedure will leave behind some type of scarring. It’s simply a natural product of the way your skin heals back together over time.
Your incisions can heal enough to get you back to your normal schedule within a couple of weeks. However, just because your incisions have healed shut, it doesn’t mean there will be no visible signs of your incisions. As the months go on, you’ll see a gradual reduction in pigmentation and texture around your incisions, but it can take up to a full year for your scar to settle into its final appearance. Managing your scar appropriately within this first year can drastically improve it so you ultimately have no noticeable scarring.
The good news is that there are a variety of ways to minimize the appearance of your tummy tuck scar. These are usually best done during your early recovery period as your skin goes through the most change.
One of the most preferred options for patients is silicone treatments. These can come in gel or sheet forms and they help nurture the skin and provide a more hydrated environment in which new skin cells can grow and repair the incision. When your skin is hydrated, it reduces the rapid production of collagen. Excess collagen production is often responsible for the appearance of enlarged, textured, pigmented scarring. When used every day – especially during recovery – silicone treatments can drastically reduce the chances that you’ll have visible scarring.
There is some evidence that regular scar massage during your recovery can help break down scar tissue before it becomes excessive. It’s a method often used in physical therapy to prevent the formation of scar tissue in important musculoskeletal structures like the ligaments and soft tissues after injuries. It’s important to only begin scar massage when your incision is fully healed (with no scabbing) and won’t be prone to reopening because of movement. The technique requires a lubricating oil like Vitamin E oil and specific massaging techniques to loosen and release the tissues. It can take six months to a year to see results from scar massage, so it’s important to remain consistent and try pairing it with other methods.
Keeping your scar protected from UV damage is one of the best ways to prevent hyper- or hypopigmentation as your scar heals. During your skin’s wound-healing process, it’s especially sensitive to photodamage which can make your scar more visible. Make a habit to wear SPF 30+ on your scar every day, as well as keeping it covered from sun exposure and avoiding extensive time outdoors.
If you still don’t achieve the scar appearance you want with at-home methods, there are a number of treatment options and procedures that can help.
Microneedling is an excellent anti-aging skin treatment, but it can also achieve great results over time with scars. It works by generating micro-wounds in the skin that jumpstart its natural collagen production. Additionally, it can help break up scar tissue and remodel the skin with a package of treatments. Over time, you’ll see a reduction in pigmentation and texture as the skin rejuvenates and grows healthy new cells.
Chemical peels use concentrated acidic solutions to chemically exfoliate the skin. They can be customized to specific depths depending on your needs and can remove pigmented cells and scar tissue with a series of treatments. As you go through treatment, the skin will begin to look brighter, smoother, and more evenly toned.
The Fraxel laser platform offers a hybrid of both kinds of laser treatments – ablative and non-ablative. Ablative treatments work similarly to microneedling and use your skin’s natural wound-healing response. Non-ablative treatments target the deep structures of the skin and the cells located there through light energy that passes through the surface. With this combination, Fraxel can effectively generate new collagen production on the surface while also treating pigmentation and texture.
Scarring is inevitable with surgery, but it’s important to know that there are options. Dr. Kayastha can recommend the best ways to prevent scarring after a tummy tuck, so we invite you to schedule a consultation at our Latham office by calling 518-674-9060 or filling out our online form.