Minimizing Tummy Tuck Scars at Home
Submitted by Florence Mussat M.D, S.C. on December 27, 2019 - 8:00 am
A tummy tuck can change your look in wonderful ways — giving you a flat belly, a curvy waist, more defined abdominal muscles, and smoother skin. But, like all plastic surgery, it also leaves scars, in this case, hidden below the panty line. What can you do at home, as you recover from the procedure, to make tummy tuck scars less noticeable? Here are some important tips.
Follow Your Doctor’s Recovery Instructions
The most important thing you can do to minimize the appearance of tummy tuck scars is to follow your doctor’s recovery instructions.
- Care for the incision as instructed. That will include changing the dressings and gently cleaning the healing wound.
- Get up to walk soon after the surgery and engage in some gentle activity every day as you recover. This reduces swelling and the risk of blood clots by stimulating circulation in the treated tissue.
- Drink plenty of fluids and eat a healthy diet during your recovery. This promotes skin health and healing.
- Avoid heavy lifting and other strenuous activity that can strain or put pressure on your abdomen. This is to prevent pulling at the sutures and stretching the skin.
- Don’t smoke. You will have had to stop smoking for several weeks before the surgery. You also need to stay smoke-free for several weeks after to allow the incisions to heal well.
Use Topical Treatments at the Right Time
Topical treatments, including silicone and vitamin E, can promote healing and help minimize scarring, but only if applied at the right time — neither too early nor too late in the recovery timeline. Used too early, they can enter the wound and increase the risk of infection. Used too late, they don’t do as much good.
Follow your doctor’s advice and apply silicone gel, cream, or sheeting once the incision is completely closed and is no longer scabbing. Silicone applications maintain healthy hydration in the developing scar tissue and may send a signal that curbs the production of excess collagen.
Vitamin E (in the form of 100 percent vitamin E oil) may also improve the appearance of scars and can help to keep the tissue moisturized when used after the incision is closed. (If you experience any irritation or skin reaction from the oil, stop using it right away.)
Avoid Sun Exposure
We all know that UV radiation from the sun damages the skin, causing tanning or burning. It can also cause permanent discoloration in developing scar tissue. Avoid exposing the scar to the sun for at least a year after your surgery. Use a sunscreen formula that’s SPF 30 or higher, preferably a product made specifically for scars. (These include Mederma Scar Cream Plus SPF 30, Dermaflage Scarscreen SPF 30, and Bioderma Photoderm LASER SPF 50+ Cream.)
Watch for Signs of Infection
Infection can be a nasty setback to healing. Without prompt treatment, it can also intensify scarring. Follow instructions for changing dressings and cleaning the incision, and see your doctor right away if you notice any signs of infection. These can include:
- New or excessive bleeding along the incision
- Redness, swelling, or bruising in the area of the incision that is getting worse instead of better
- Yellowish or greenish discharge from the incision, or any discharge with an unpleasant smell
- Fever or chills
- Severe pain
It’s normal for scars to form with a darker red or purple color. That’s because the tissue has an additional flow of blood as it is healing. After about three months, this dark coloring will gradually begin to fade. You’ll see improvement by six months and near-final results by about a year after surgery. The scars will continue to fade even more for years. So don’t worry if scars are visible in the early stages of healing. That’s to be expected. Have patience and give your body time.