What does a tummy tuck scar look like?

What is a tummy tuck scar?

A tummy tuck scar forms in the areas where your skin heals after tummy tuck surgery. A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) removes excess skin and fat from your belly. The scar is usually thin. It may be raised, recessed, slightly pink or lighter than the surrounding skin.

Are there different types of tummy tuck scars?

The size and location of tummy tuck scars vary depending on what type of tummy tuck you have. Your surgeon will likely use special glue, tape or bandages on your incision. These surgical dressings can reduce scarring by holding the skin of the incision together and keeping it moist.

The different types of tummy tuck scars may include:

  • Full tummy tuck: The scar for a standard tummy tuck usually spans your abdomen, from hip bone to hip bone, just above your pubic area. You may also have a scar around your belly button.
  • Mini tummy tuck: A mini tummy tuck is for people who have a small amount of excess fat and tissue beneath their belly button. The scar is shorter than a full tummy tuck scar. It’s about the length of a C-section scar (between 3 inches and 6 inches).
  • Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck: This scar spans your abdomen. A second vertical scar runs from your lower breastbone to your pubic bone. A fleur-de-lis tummy tuck is usually for people with a large amount of excess skin due to major weight loss or multiple pregnancies.

Can you prevent a tummy tuck scar?

You can’t completely prevent a tummy tuck scar. But you can take steps to help the incision heal after surgery, which may reduce the appearance of the scar:

  • Avoid corticosteroids: If you take corticosteroids, talk to your healthcare provider about stopping the medication before surgery. Some corticosteroids can slow wound healing.
  • Manage chronic diseases: Some conditions, such as diabetes, can complicate wound healing. Talk to your healthcare provider before your tummy tuck about how to manage health conditions before, during and after the procedure.
  • Stop smoking: Quitting smoking several months before your procedure can help your surgical wound heal.
  • Take vitamin A: Your provider may recommend vitamin A supplements in the weeks and months leading up to surgery. Vitamin A can help speed wound healing. Please check with your surgeon prior to starting vitamin A as it may interfere with a medication you’re currently taking.

How to reduce tummy tuck scars.

Procedure Details

How can I minimize scarring as my tummy tuck incisions heal?

There’s a variety of ways that you can help your incision heal after a tummy tuck, which can reduce the appearance of scars. Follow your provider’s instructions carefully about caring for and cleaning your wound. Avoid heavy lifting, strenuous exercise, sexual activity and stretching until your provider says it’s safe to do these activities (usually four to eight weeks after the procedure).

Your provider might recommend some topical treatments that you apply directly to the wound:

  • Antibiotic ointment.
  • Cocoa butter.
  • Petroleum jelly.
  • Scar cream.
  • Silicone gel sheets.
  • Vitamin D.
  • Vitamin E.

About 2 to 3 weeks after your surgery, you may consider scar massage. Gently massaging the scar and the surrounding skin can increase blood flow to the area and help with the healing process. Massage can also break up some of the tougher scar tissue. Talk to your healthcare provider before trying scar massage.

It’s extremely important to stay out of the sun as your wound heals. Ultraviolet radiation can make your scar discolored or change its texture, making it thicker. For 12 to 18 months after your tummy tuck, wear sunscreen with an SPF (sun protection factor) of 30 if you have to be in the sun.

Getting proper nutrition is also an important part of wound healing. Talk to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian about the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals you need. They may recommend taking a daily multivitamin or other supplements as you heal.

Can steroid injections treat a tummy tuck scar?

Steroid injections may help reduce the appearance of a thick, raised or red tummy tuck scar. Most providers reserve these injections for abnormal scarring, but providers may give steroid injections at the time of surgery or a few weeks following surgery to reduce inflammation. Others may wait a few weeks until a scar forms.

Can laser skin resurfacing treatments treat a tummy tuck scar?

Laser skin resurfacing may reduce the appearance of a tummy tuck scar. This is another treatment usually reserved for abnormal scaring. Lasers use light or heat to stimulate the growth of new skin cells. Laser treatments may also:

  • Decrease the scar’s tightness, so you have more skin movement.
  • Prevent the development of a raised scar.
  • Reduce itchiness, pain and irritation around your scar.

Can scar revision surgery treat a tummy tuck scar?

Some tummy tuck scars, such as hypertrophic or keloid scars, may need surgical treatment. During scar revision, a surgeon cuts the scar out of your skin and then closes the wound with stitches. Most people need to wait 12 to 18 months after their tummy tuck for scar revision surgery. This is a time when the scar is about as good as it is going to get and the skin has had a chance to further relax and take tension off of the scar.

Risks / Benefits

What are the risks of tummy tuck scar treatment?

Most treatments for a tummy tuck scar don’t carry significant risks. Laser skin resurfacing can cause swelling, blistering and skin redness. Surgical scar revision may cause infection, bleeding or additional scarring.

What are the benefits of tummy tuck scar treatment?

Tummy tuck scar treatment can:

  • Improve skin elasticity around the scar.
  • Reduce redness or scar discoloration.
  • Smooth the texture of a scar.

Recovery and Outlook

What can I expect after tummy tuck scar treatment?

Small or fine tummy tuck scars may fade completely after about a year. However, most people will still have a visible scar.

When To Call the Doctor

When should I see my healthcare provider?

Contact your healthcare provider if you notice your incision is:

  • Bleeding.
  • Infected (pus or foul-smelling drainage coming from the wound).
  • Swollen.
  • Very painful.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

A tummy tuck scar is a normal side effect of abdominoplasty. However, you may want to diminish the appearance of a noticeable tummy tuck scar. Taking care of your overall health and skin before surgery can help prevent severe scarring. Postoperative wound care, skin ointments, steroid injections, laser resurfacing and surgery may help improve the look of a scar after a tummy tuck.