Things to do to Minimize your Tummy Tuck Scars after Abdominoplasty Surgery
Do you have excess skin and pockets of fat around your tummy or abdomen? Have you tried a variety of diets and exercises but feel like you are not losing your belly fat? If so, you are an ideal candidate for a tummy tuck surgery. This procedure removes excess fat in your abdomen and reshapes the area to make it aesthetically pleasing. While this may be very effective in achieving your cosmetic goals, a tummy tuck requires downtime and may leave you with permanent tummy tuck scars . Fortunately, there are things that you can do to minimize your surgical tummy tuck scars and help them fade away over time.
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty is a cosmetic procedure used to make your abdomen thinner and more firm. The surgery entails the removal of excess skin, tissue, and fat from the middle and lower abdomen in order to tighten the muscle and fascia. Once your surgical incisions have completely healed, your abdomen becomes flatter, firmer, and well defined.
A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is considered a major surgery and finding the right tummy tuck surgeon in NZ is just as important as choosing the best surgical scar treatment.
Where do Scars typically develop after a Tummy Tuck?
Typically, tummy tuck scars are located in the following areas:
- Around your relocated Belly button
- The Lower abdomen and Pelvic area – under the tummy overhang
Correct placement of the incision is critical to get a good result. You can see the placement of scars in our before and after tummy tuck photos
What should you do BEFORE your Tummy Tuck to minimise your tummy scars?
The following are some things to do prior to your tummy tuck procedure that can help reduce scarring:
- Tummy Tuck Incision placement is critical so Find an experienced cosmetic plastic surgeon: Consider their skills and experience doing Tummy Tuck Surgery. You can also discuss concerns with your surgeon about the scarring associated with the procedure. You can ask what the scar is expected to look like as well as normal and abnormal scars during your recovery period. A surgeon like Dr Gittos with significant experience in the field of cosmetic surgery will be able to answer all your questions. Hiding your incision line in the best possible place takes an expert surgeon.
- Bring underwear or bikini bottoms to your surgical planning appointment: This will help you to get a clear idea of where your tummy tuck incision line scars will be. Your surgeon will suggest different types of surgical incisions that can be concealed with your underwear.
- Refrain from smoking for at least six weeks before your surgery: This will help reduce complications of your tummy tuck procedure. Nicotine in cigarettes is a potent vasoconstrictor, which means that it narrows the blood vessels and impairs blood supply. This in turn delays the wound healing process.
- Tell Dr Gittos about your current medications: Some antibiotics, anticonvulsants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and steroids can impair the wound healing process and lead to a poor cosmetic result. Talking to your health care provider helps identify medications that can possibly affect the outcome of your tummy tuck surgery.
What should you do AFTER your Tummy Tuck to minimise your tummy scars?
During your recovery period, adhere to your surgeon’s instructions and the following tips may help to achieve your desired cosmetic result and lower your risk of complications:
- Move! – Walk around gently as soon as possible after surgery: This will help reduce swelling and blood clot formation which can lead to longer recovery time and prominent scars.
- Rest and Recover after the operation – spend some time recovering after surgery. Avoid stress and overexertion to allow your scars to heal.
- Avoid lifting heavy items for at least six weeks: Avoid doing activities that stretch, bend, or cause you to put pressure on your abdomen. This can put additional tension on your suture line, resulting in wound dehiscence (reopening of the surgical wound).
- Clean the surgical wound exactly as prescribed by your surgeon: Before discharge, your doctor will teach you the proper wound cleansing technique. Make sure to follow discharge instructions to prevent infection of your surgical wound and minimize scarring. Sterility counts – Do NOT pick at the wound or use your unwashed fingers.
- Consider using silicone gels or silicone strips: These silcone gels or ultra-thin sheets of silicone are applied to scars. It significantly reduces the appearance of surgical scars by keeping the surgical wound hydrated , reducing the activity of inflammatory cytokines and fibroblasts (cells involved in scar formation) , reducing wound tension , decreasing blood flow to the scar site , and aiding in the proper alignment of structural proteins. 
- Avoid sexual activities for three weeks: Resuming your sexual activity immediately can also put additional tension on your suture line, which can lead to further injury and scarring.
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure and tanning beds: Prolonged sun exposure and tanning beds can alter the appearance of your surgical scar by inducing hyperpigmentation, a condition characterized by the darkening of the skin. This can make your scar more noticeable.
- If you are worried about keloid scarring,- talk to Dr Gittos regarding topical steroids: Topical steroids reduce surgical scars by protecting against programmed cell death (apoptosis)  and improving blood circulation in the dermis (skin layer between the epidermis and fat tissue). 
- Consider additional laser therapy of the scar after scars have healed and sealed up at about 6-8 weeks: Laser therapy is a minimally invasive scar revision procedure that reduces the appearance of surgical scars by destroying small blood vessels in immature scars which in turn prevents scar formation.  This procedure also has an additional effect of stimulating the treated skin area to replace old, damaged skin cells with new, healthy cells, resulting in younger-looking skin.  – Further laser treatments have proven effective to improve the appearance of some scars.
Tummy Tuck Scar Medical References:
- Suetak T, Sasai S, Zhen YX, Tagami H. Effects of silicone gel sheet on the stratum corneum hydration. Br J Plast Surg. 2000;53(6):503-507. doi:10.1054/bjps.2000.3388. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10927682/.
- Kelemen O, Hegedűs G, Kollár L, Menyhei G, Seress L. Morphological analysis of the connective tissue reaction in linear hypertrophic scars treated with intralesional steroid or silicone-gel sheeting. A light and electron microscopic study. Acta Biol Hung 2008;59:129–145. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18637554/.
- Akaishi S, Akimoto M, Hyakusoku H, Ogawa R. 142B: the relationship between keloid growth pattern and stretching tension-visual analysis using the finite element method. Plast Reconstr Surg 2010;125:96. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18362577/.
- Rabello FB, Souza CD, Farina Júnior JA. Update on hypertrophic scar treatment. Clinics 2014;69:565–573. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4129552/.
- Borgognoni L. Biological effects of silicone gel sheeting. Wound Repair Regen 2002;10:118–121. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12028528/.
- Robson MC, Kucan JO, Paik KI, Eriksson E. Prevention of dermal ischemia after thermal injury. Arch Surg. 1978;113:621. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/646624/.
- Kull FC, Jr. Reduction in tumor necrosis factor receptor affinity and cytotoxicity by glucocorticoids. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1988;153:402–9. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/2837210/.
- Alster TS, Nanni CA. Pulsed dye laser treatment of hypertrophic burn scars. Plast Reconstr Surg. 1998;102:2190–5. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9811021/.
- Heidari Beigvand H, Razzaghi M, Rostami-Nejad M, et al. Assessment of Laser Effects on Skin Rejuvenation. J Lasers Med Sci. 2020;11(2):212-219. doi:10.34172/jlms.2020.35. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7118506/.
Are you considering a tummy tuck to reduce your tummy excess skin and fat? Want to know more about the procedure and surgical scar treatments that will best suit your body type?