5 Ways To Reduce The Appearance of Tummy Tuck Scars 

tummy tuck scars

A tummy tuck is a quintessential part of any “mommy makeover” if you want to reclaim your leaner, meaner pre-baby body. Tummy tucks have consistently been in the top 4 for women and the top 5 for men since 2018. Even celebrities like Angelina Jolie, Kate Gosselin, and Courtney Love have undergone tummy tucks to tighten and restore their bellies. 

Everyone knows that a tummy tuck is the best way to ditch the unwanted belly fat. However, what is talked about significantly less is the tummy tuck scars that you will walk away with. According to Dr. Nadir Qazi of Qazi Cosmetic Clinic, there is no need to fear scars after a procedure. There are many ways to erase your scars so that you can go back to enjoying your day at the beach. 

What Do Tummy Tuck Scars Normally Look Like?

Tummy tuck scars are normally located along the bikini line between the hips. The size of the scar will depend on the size of the incision, as well as how much tissue was removed. Surgical teams normally hide incisions along the bikini line, so it will be easier to cover them up with a swimsuit. For most patients who do not have excess tissue removed, the scar from a tummy tuck will look fairly similar to a C-section scar. 

For patients who have experienced additional complications, such as: 

  • Excessive weight gain from an underlying medical condition
  • Abdominal wall separation from pregnancy or exercise 
  • Extensive skin laxity, normally from weight loss
  • A botched liposuction or previous tummy tuck
  • Multiple complicated pregnancies, resulting in certain health risks

It may be necessary for the medical team to perform what is often called a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck. With this type of tummy tuck, patients walk away with a T-shaped scar that runs from the breast bone down to the pubic bone, then a horizontal scar that extends out to the hips. 

Don’t worry! No matter what type of tummy tuck you get, you will not have to say goodbye to your days of skinny dipping and telling sexy artists to “draw me like one of your French girls.” Tummy tuck scars may sound extensive, but there are 5 highly effective ways to fade the scarring enough for it to not be noticeable. 

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    1. Follow All Pre-Op and Post-Op Instructions

    This one may seem basic; however, one of the best things you can do to reduce scarring is to follow all the instructions for your procedure. Even if your doctor recommends something that seems small and inconsequential, be sure that you follow their instructions anyway. Common prep instructions for a tummy tuck may include: 

    • Get a physical, blood work, or other lab tests to ensure you are healthy.
    • Stop taking certain medications, including blood thinners, anti-inflammatory medications, aspirin, and herbal supplements. 
    • Avoid smoking, alcohol use, and marijuana consumption for several weeks before the procedure. 
    • Keep your weight consistent in the months leading up to your tummy tuck. This means no weird crash diets, no diet medications, and no starving yourself. 
    • Stop eating and drinking the night before the procedure. 

    Your doctor and medical team may also give you additional instructions to help you prepare. Following all pre-op instructions is one of the best ways to avoid side effects and minimize your risks. When a procedure goes according to plan, you will get the best results. 

    When it comes to minimizing tummy tuck scars, it is extra important that you follow all your aftercare instructions. Taking good care of your body and your incisions after the procedure will be the key to reducing scarring.

    • Change your bandages frequently and keep the treatment area clean. An infection will not do anything good for your scars. 
    • Wear your support garment as much as possible for as long as your doctor tells you to. It doesn’t matter if the garment is unflattering or if you feel fine after a few days, keep wearing it. 
    • Reduce your activity as much as possible. Too much bending, twisting, and strenuous activity may hurt your results and exacerbate scarring. Dr. Qazi recommends that you do nothing except walking short distances, and let someone else take care of you until you feel better. 
    • Take all your prescribed medications after the procedure. The pain medication will be the most helpful for easing discomfort, but you should also take any prescribed antibiotics. 
    • Ice your tummy in 20 minute increments. Be sure to put a barrier, like a towel or clothing, between your skin and the ice pack. Do not over-ice or place the ice pack directly on your skin, it could damage the tissue. 
    tummy tuck scars

    2. Silicon Sheets and Gel For Tummy Tuck Scars

    After you have followed all your post-op instructions and the incisions have healed, then you are safe to try silicone sheets and gel strips. This method is one of the best and easiest ways to reduce scarring. While it is impossible to have no scars after a tummy tuck, silicone sheets can certainly make the scars less noticeable. 

    What are silicone sheets and gel strips?

    The terms “silicone sheets” and “gel strips” basically describe the same product. They are sheets or strips of silicone that are 2-4 mm thick. One side of the strip will be slightly sticky, much like a bandaid. When you use silicone sheets, you will need to trim the sheet to fit over your scar. Each sheet you apply should extend beyond your scar by at least half an inch to provide coverage. If you are using gel strips, you will not have to trim them. 

    How do silicone sheets and gel strips work for scar reduction?

    Sheets and gel strips reduce scarring by locking in moisture, regulating collagen production as you heal, providing light compression, and keeping the area protected. Scars from the procedure often appear raised, which makes them more visible. Raised scars usually occur when the body produces too much collagen when it heals a wound. Silicone sheets are able to prevent large, raised scars from forming by preventing the body from producing too much collagen. 

    How do I use silicone sheets and gel strips after a tummy tuck?

    The exact instructions will depend on which product you use. Different brands of silicone sheets have different directions. Generally, you can start using silicone sheets and strips after your incision is completely healed. This means that there will be no open areas of scabbing. Before you apply the sheet, clean your scar and trim the sheet to fit over it. You must peel off the backing and apply the silicone sheet with the sticky side down. To get the best results, you should wear your silicone sheets or gel strips for 12 to 22 hours a day, for up to 3 months. 

    The silicone sheets and strips can safely be washed with soap and water, then left to air dry. They will become sticky again once they are dry, and can safely be reapplied. Silicone sheets should not be worn while swimming, bathing, or during activities that cause heavy sweating. 

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      3. Laser Treatment For Scars

      Laser treatments aren’t magic – they’re science – but it’s true that lasers can treat a lot of different things. At Qazi Cosmetic Clinic, lasers are used to treat everything from acne and acne scars to hyperpigmentation and premature aging. Lasers can also help fade scars for certain patients. 

      The primary mechanism behind laser treatments is skin resurfacing. Lasers safely and strategically damage the surface layer of the skin in order to allow fresh, undamaged skin to appear. The process also boosts the body’s collagen production for improved skin texture.

      Laser treatment is only effective for certain types of tummy tuck scars. For raised keloid scars, silicone sheets and gel strips is the best option. However, for scars that are discolored or depressed into the skin, lasers can be effective. When the laser resurfaces these types of scars, it causes your body to create more collagen, which will help heal and fill in the depressions from the scars. Because lasers target hyperpigmentation in the skin, laser treatment will also fade your pigmented scars to a more natural color. 

      There are a few things to know before you consider laser treatment for tummy tuck scars: 

      • Not all lasers are safe on all skin tones. Some lasers will damage darker skin, so be sure to ask Dr. Qazi about your options during the consultation
      • Laser treatments take multiple sessions to get the desired results. Don’t expect your scars to be gone after only your first session.
      • The results will not be noticeable immediately after a laser session. The skin will take a few days to heal, then the body can take up to 6 months to produce new collagen to fill in an indented scar. 

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        4. RF Microneedling on the Body

        If you’ve heard of RF microneedling, you probably know that most people get it on their face to treat acne scars and fine lines. RF microneedling is also suitable for use on the belly to help smooth out tummy tuck scars. 

        RF microneedling has a similar mechanism to laser treatment: the microneedling device resurfaces the skin by strategically creating damage to the superficial layers. As an added bonus, the RF microneedling device applies radiofrequency waves to the lower layers of the skin, which causes the skin to constrict and create even more collagen. 

        If you have scars that are uneven or a different texture than the surrounding skin, then RF microneedling may be able to help. While microneedling will not completely erase your scars, it can certainly help them blend better into the surrounding skin to be less noticeable. As an added benefit, the radiofrequency waves will tighten the skin on your belly, giving you a fitter appearance without any sit ups. 

        Like laser treatments, you may also require several rounds of RF microneedling to see the results that you want. After an RF microneedling session, your skin will need to heal. It will also take around 6 months for your body to produce more collagen to continue to heal the scars. Unlike laser treatments, microneedling is safe for all skin types and skin tones, so Dr. Qazi frequently recommends it for patients with more melanized skin. 

        tummy tuck scars

        5. Hydroquinone and Other Topical Skin Lighteners

        In addition to in-office procedures, there are also topical options for reducing the appearance of your tummy tuck scars. Hydroquinone is a topical skin lightener that can be very effective for fading pigmented scars. While skin lightening products will not be effective on raised keloid scars or depressed scars, it can work wonders on scars that are darker than the surrounding skin. 

        Dr. Qazi recommends that patients be very careful when using hydroquinone. You should always apply it only to the pigmented scar; this is not the type of cream that you can just slather everywhere. If you do not carefully apply hydroquinone, you could end up with a halo effect around the scar. This occurs when the skin around the scar is lightened too much, and the scar still stands out due to the pigmentation difference. 

        If you have questions about which treatment is the best to reduce your tummy tuck scars, schedule a consultation to learn more! Because every patient’s body is unique, Dr. Qazi will need to customize a treatment plan to ensure that you get the most effective treatment for your type of scars. 

        Benefits of Treating Tummy Tuck Scars at Qazi Cosmetic Clinic

        Everyone should feel beautiful in their skin. The scar from a tummy tuck can normally be easily hidden under a swimsuit or underwear. But you deserve more than just hiding a scar. You deserve a body that you love, with nothing to hide or worry about. 

        If you have gotten a tummy tuck, now is the time to treat and fade those scars. Schedule a consultation at Qazi Cosmetic Clinic to learn more about your options. It’s time to say goodbye to that big, ugly scar and say hello to your flawless, beautiful body.

        By: Dr. Nadir Qazi

        Dr. Nadir Qazi is a board certified physician specializing in minimally invasive cosmetic procedures. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery and an instructor for advanced injections and laser techniques.

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