Patients with loose skin in the abdomen may try to get a flatter belly with diet and exercise. But sometimes, traditional weight loss methods can only do so much. This is where tummy tucks come in. People with excessive, loose belly skin from pregnancy or weight loss may need a tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, can give you a flatter abdomen by removing loose, sagging excess skin and extra fat from the stomach.
You may need a tummy tuck if you have:
- Loose excess skin, stretch marks, and excess skin in the belly that does not go away with diet and exercise.
- If the shape of your belly was affected by pregnancy or significant weight loss.
- If you find your belly unattractive.
- If you have lower self-confidence from the appearance of your abdomen.
Learn more about the tummy tuck procedure below, including scarring.
Tummy Tuck Procedure
A tummy tuck removes excess skin and tissue from the abdomen and tightens the abdominal muscles with sutures to make the belly flat again.
These are the general procedures for a tummy tuck:
- During a tummy tuck surgery the surgeon will mark the belly to indicate where the incisions will be, as well as the center of the abdomen and where they will reposition the navel.
- Lidocaine and epinephrine are injected into the treatment area to reduce pain and bleeding.
- The tummy tuck incision is usually right about above the pubic mound, from hip to hip. Another standard tummy tuck incision may be made around the belly button in a full tummy tuck. A shorter incision is used for a mini tummy tuck.
- The surgeon will remove loose skin from the abdomen to the lower ribcage and put sutures in the abdominal muscles to make them tighter.
- After the muscles are sutured, the surgeon will remove extra fat with liposuction (explore the difference between tummy tuck and liposuction). Next, the remaining belly skin is stretched down to the incision line, removing extra skin.
- The tummy tuck incisions are closed with sutures or glue.
- They may insert one or more drains to eliminate fluid buildup, which can cause problems with the standard tummy tuck incision.
Recovering from a tummy tuck takes about six or eight weeks. So, you may consider other procedures as well, including breast augmentation or a Brazilian butt lift.
Tummy Tucks And Scarring
The incision for a tummy tuck can vary in length and position based on the procedure. For instance, patients who only have a small amount of loose skin removed may have a mini tummy tuck. Therefore, this procedure needs a shorter incision than a traditional tummy tuck.
However, an extended tummy tuck removes extra skin and usually requires a hip-to-hip incision.
Whatever the length and location of your incision, the plastic surgeon will take care to hide the incision where it is hard to see, such as under the bikini or underwear line. They also try to put incisions within the natural body contours, making them as challenging to see as possible.
Like any surgical scar tissue, tummy tuck scars never disappear entirely. However, a skilled plastic surgeon, combined with excellent aftercare, can minimize tummy tuck scarring. In addition, your scars should fade after your tummy tuck recovery, so they are challenging to see.
Remember that a tummy tuck incision takes about two weeks to close and heal. So it’s essential to do your part to minimize scarring. Keep your tummy tuck incisions clean, and don’t submerge them in water for at least a month.
After the initial recovery, if your tummy tuck scars healed correctly, you should notice the scars fading noticeably from red to pink and eventually to white or skin tone. The process takes between six and 12 months, and it helps to use various over-the-counter scar creams to improve the results.
How To Reduce Tummy Tuck Scars
You can help to reduce your tummy tuck scar by doing the following:
- Keep your tummy tuck scar incisions clean and dressed: It’s essential to keep them as clean as possible until they are fully closed. Follow your surgeon’s instructions about cleaning and dressing as closely as possible.
- Don’t submerge the your tummy tuck scar in water until the incisions are fully closed. Take brief showers instead of baths during the early recovery period.
- Don’t pull on the sutures or incision of your tummy tuck scar while it’s healing.
- Don’t expose your tummy tuck scar to direct sunlight for several months.
- Massage the tummy tuck scar if your surgeon recommends it.
- Use over-the-counter tummy tuck scar creams. Your surgeon may prescribe a stronger cream to reduce scarring, as well.
- Go to all your follow-up appointments so your surgeon can check your tummy tuck scar healing progress, including how the incisions are healing.
- If there is noticeable scarring after a year, consider having laser skin resurfacing to reduce the appearance of dark scars.
Ideal Candidates For A Tummy Tuck
You may eventually realize that diet and exercise can only do so much for your abdomen. If one or more of the following apply, you could be a good candidate for a tummy tuck.
- Pregnancy, heredity, aging, or weight fluctuations have left you with sagging skin on the abdomen.
- You have weak abdominal muscles from childbirth or previous surgery.
- You are a non-smoker. Smoking delays the healing process and increases the risk of complications.
- Your body weight is stable. People close to their ideal body weight with loose abdominal skin are the best candidates.
- If you still have a lot of fat in the abdomen, especially intra-abdominal fat around the organs, you may need to lose more weight before surgery.
- You are in good health; this is serious surgery, and your body needs to be strong and healthy for the best recovery and results.
- You do not have more children. Having more children will undo your results, so it’s best to wait before having tummy tuck surgery.
It’s understandable to be concerned about tummy tuck scars. Some scarring is unavoidable with all tummy tucks, but most patients discover that scars can usually be concealed, even when wearing a bathing suit.
Questions and Answers
What happens to the belly button during a standard tummy tuck?
As the lower abdominal skin is drawn downward, it naturally conceals the belly button. Consequently, during a standard tummy tuck a fresh incision is required in the skin to accommodate the belly button. The belly button is then threaded through this new opening, akin to pulling a button through a buttonhole, and its borders are secured with stitches.
Do tummy tuck scars go away?
Although your scars will remain noticeable at the six-month milestone, they will start to lose pigmentation, leading to a significant fading of the red or brown coloration. By the one-year mark following your tummy tuck, the scarring is expected to be considerably less conspicuous.
What does a normal tummy tuck scar look like?
Following a tummy tuck surgery, the scar typically emerges initially as fine and white, immediately after the procedure, although it may not be visible due to dressings. Subsequently, it undergoes a transformation from a deep purple hue to red, then to pink, gradually fading over 18 months to 2 years to a pale purple and ultimately turning white.
Request a Houston Tummy Tuck Consultation
Interested in a tummy tuck in Houston? Please set up a consultation with Dr. Ashley Steinberg of Trouvaille Aesthetics & Plastic Surgery Houston today. She’ll talk to you about the benefits and risks of a tummy tuck to determine if it’s a good fit for your needs.
Tummy Tuck Overview. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tummy-tuck/about/pac-20384892
About Tummy Tuck. (n.d.). Accessed at https://www.smartbeautyguide.com/procedures/body/tummy-tuck/