The main goal of tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, is to create a flatter and more toned abdomen. This is achieved by removing the excess skin and tissue, and possibly restoring the separated muscles caused by previous pregnancies or massive weight fluctuations.
However, some would-be patients are put off by the tummy tuck scars, which typically span from hip to hip across their lower abdomen.
To hide the appearance of tummy tuck scars, plastic surgeons will make every effort to lower them to an area covered by their patients’ bikini. Nevertheless, postop variables remain important to further achieve “favorable” scarring.
Leading Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Dr. Tarick Smaili explains the four basic ways to help tummy tuck scars fade quicker, with most of them performed at home.
- Scar massage. The idea is to break up the scar tissue that may form within the dermis, although it should only be attempted when the incision wound is healed enough, which happens around four weeks after surgery.
The general rule of thumb is to pull the scar line horizontally and perpendicularly. Another technique is to stretch the skin next to it in a circular motion, clockwise and counterclockwise, for optimal results.
- Wound care. Avoid factors that can increase the risk of infection such as poor hygiene, dirty bed linen, soiled dressings, poor diet, and smoking. To further reduce its incidence, some doctors also recommend antibiotics.
Take note that proper wound care is a case-to-case basis, so you have to stick to your surgeon’s instructions.
- Sun protection. While the usual recommendation is to avoid exposing your incision under the sun for at least six months, it would be better to do this for a full year to further minimize the risk of hyperpigmentation in which the scars become darker and more obvious.
If you need to go outside, use protective clothing and/or sunscreen even in cloudy days because the sun’s UV rays can penetrate through clouds.
- Scar creams and topical treatments. Many surgeons prefer products that contain silicone and mild steroid (hydrocortisone) because these agents are known to reduce redness and/or hydrate the skin, leading to “better” scars.
Silicone tapes or sheets are also helpful because they constantly provide pressure that prevents or at least reduces scar tissue formation. Some doctors believe that combining them with scar tissue massage could further promote good scarring.