A common concern among tummy tuck patients is scarring following the procedure. This is an understandable concern. As any reputable plastic surgeon will tell you, tummy tuck, like all surgical procedures, does leave some degree of scarring. The good news is, these scars fade over time — depending on a few factors. Newport Beach plastic surgeon Dr. Rob Kessler discusses those factors in this blog post.
Experience and Surgical Technique Matter
Choosing the right plastic surgeon is crucial to the result of your tummy tuck surgery, and this includes the appearance of your scars. First and foremost, your plastic surgeon should be board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This ensures your surgeon has the training needed to ensure successful results. The plastic surgeon should also have years of experience performing the procedure of your choice; in this case, tummy tuck. Experienced tummy tuck surgeons have refined their techniques and do their best to minimize and hide scars. Having performed hundreds of tummy tuck surgeries, Dr. Kessler knows how to minimize the appearance of scars. He makes the incisions on the lower abdomen, low enough so they can easily be concealed by a bikini or panty line.
A word of caution: be wary of plastic surgeons and practices that advertise “scarless” tummy tuck surgery. Scars are a part of the body’s natural healing response and therefore cannot be avoided when an incision is made. Scars are produced when skin is under tension. Placing tension on the deep supporting tissue rather than on the skin is the secret to optimizing the appearance of the incision. Avoiding compromise of blood supply is another critical factor in ensuring optimal healing. High lateral tension abdominoplasty accomplishes both objectives and yields a beautifully sculpted abdomen. Before choosing your plastic surgeon, make sure to view plenty of before and after photos of their previous work. This can help you avoid surgeons with less training, skill and talent.
Top Tips to Minimize Scarring
Your post-op care is essential to the healing of your scars and how much they fade over time. Dr. Kessler recommends the following:
Use topical creams or ointments as prescribed. These products will work to keep the area clean and protect it from bacteria and infection. Only silicone based products have been demonstrated to prevent scar widening and thickening. These come in both ointment and gel sheets, which can be obtained at our office. Vitamin E has been demonstrated to cause scar widening and should be avoided in the immediate post-operative period, which is the first eight weeks. Compression garments are also important to minimize swelling of the abdominal skin which, can create tension and have a negative impact on the appearance of your scar.
Drink plenty of water and eat a healthy diet. Not only does staying hydrated and eating right keep your skin beautiful and youthful, it also boosts your immune system and helps your body (scars included) heal quickly and properly. The active agents in wound healing are vitamin C and lysine. A protein-rich diet also helps provide the building blocks for collagen.
Don’t smoke. Smoking interferes with your body’s healing process, as it reduces your body’s ability to carry oxygen to the healing tissues. It also constricts blood vessels which leads to less circulation in healing wounds. Low oxygen leads to cell death which compromises wound healing. You should not smoke for at least two weeks before surgery and hopefully never restart.
Use proper sun protection. Exposing an incision or forming scar to the sun too soon after surgery can cause it to darken and thicken. Avoid exposing the treatment area to the sun for at least the first two weeks following surgery. After that, make sure to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas of skin, including your scars.
Ease back into your normal routine slowly. For the first two weeks after surgery, you will need to avoid strenuous exercise and movement, including lifting heavy objects. During your follow-up appointment, Dr. Kessler can advise you on when it is safe to resume exercise and other activities. Generally we recommend patients to resume lower extremity exercise (e.g., stair master or stationary bike) two weeks after surgery and core activity no less than four to six weeks. You will need an additional two weeks to gradually build up to your usual regimen.
Following surgery, Dr. Kessler will provide a complete list of guidelines for you to follow during your recovery.
Do you have more questions regarding tummy tuck surgery? Newport Beach’s leading plastic surgeon will gladly answer them. Schedule a one-on-one consultation by calling 949.644.6544 today.