Minimizing Tummy Tuck Scars at Home
You’re excited about the prospect of a flatter stomach, slimmer waist, and better muscle tone after your tummy tuck surgery. But you may be worried about visible scarring. If you’ve chosen a top-notch plastic surgeon, those scars will be small and well-hidden. But, like all plastic surgeries, a tummy tuck will leave scars. Fortunately, there are steps you can take at home, during your recovery, to minimize them.
Follow Your Doctor’s Instructions During Recovery
The first and most important step is to follow your surgeon’s post-operative recovery instructions.
- Change the dressings and gently clean the wound as instructed.
- Get up to walk as soon as possible after the surgery. This controls swelling and reduces the risk of blood clots by stimulating your circulation.
- Eat healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and drink plenty of fluids.
- Don’t lift anything heavy and avoid strenuous activity until the doctor tells you it’s OK. That will typically be in about six weeks. You don’t want to work the muscles in your abdomen too hard until the incisions are fully healed.
- Don’t smoke. You will need to stay smoke-free for several weeks after surgery, as smoking can delay healing and increase scarring.
Use Topical Treatments When Incisions Have Closed
Silicone scar treatments have been shown to minimize scars when applied once the wound has closed. Vitamin E treatments may also be helpful. The timing is important. Used too early, topical treatments can get into the wound and interfere with healing — they can even cause infection. Used too late, they won’t do much good. It’s in the early stage of scar formation that they make the biggest difference.
Follow your doctor’s advice about which gel, cream, or sheeting to use, and when to start using it. That will likely be when the incision is completely closed and free of scabs.
How do these topical treatments work? Silicone helps to keep the developing scar tissue hydrated and may also curb excess production of collagen by mimicking the properties of healed surface skin. Vitamin E oil also helps to moisturize the healing scar tissue and may help to make the scars less visible. However, if you experience any irritation or skin reaction from a topical treatment, stop using it right away.
Protect Scars from the Sun
UV radiation from the sun can permanently discolor developing scar tissue. For at least a year after your surgery, keep the scars covered with clothing when you are outside. Remember that people can tan or burn even on an overcast day, so sun filtered through clouds can also affect your scars. Use sunscreen with SFP 30 or higher for extra protection. You might look for a sunscreen made specifically for scars (such as Mederma Scar Cream Plus SPF 30, Dermaflage Scarscreen SPF 30, or Bioderma Photoderm LASER SPF 50+ Cream).
Be Alert for Signs of Infection
Scars can be larger and more noticeable if the incision gets infected during the healing process. An infection will also set back the timeline of your recovery. To minimize this risk, your doctor will give you instructions for changing dressings and cleaning the wounds, and about when it is safe to shower and bathe. Contact your doctor right away if you notice any signs of infection, such as:
- Bleeding at the site of the incision
- Redness, swelling or bruising near the incision that seems to be getting worse instead of better
- Yellowish, greenish, or unpleasant-smelling discharge from the incision
- Fever or chills
- Severe pain
Prompt treatment for any infection is critical to get your healing back on track.
Healing takes time, and scars can take a long time to fade. Expect your scars to have a red or purple color at first as the increased blood flow to the area works to form new tissue. This darker coloring will gradually diminish after about three months until the scars reach their near-final color in about a year. Be patient and give the final results time to appear.
Choose a Skilled Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Stephen Bresnick, M.D., in Encino, CA, is one of the most skilled, experienced, and highly rated plastic surgeons in the Los Angeles area. He uses specialized techniques in tummy tuck surgery to minimize scars while delivering superior shaping and flattening results. Call us at (818) 981-3333 or contact us today to schedule a consultation.