If you are planning on getting a tummy tuck- Abdominoplasty procedure, you can expect to have a scar post the surgery – it is a trade-off for losing the excess skin and fat during the surgery. While it is quite an obvious side effect and plastic surgeons aim to reduce its visibility, there are certainly things you can do to minimise the appearance of the abdominoplasty scar.
Before we go any further, it is important to understand that what you do prior to the surgery is as important as what you do in the recovery phase when it comes to minimising your Abdominoplasty scar.
The Australian Government has a NEW Medicare Item Number for a Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty for some eligible post-pregnancy patients with 3cm+ Diastasis Recti (Split Tummy Muscles) if you are eligible and meet the new medical criteria. This new 30175 Medicare Item Number was introduced 1st July 2022. Read the 30175 Medicare Item Number factsheet.
If you qualify for the 30175 Medicare item number, you may also get a subsidy from your Health Fund. There will still be a significant out-of-pocket GAP as Private Tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty surgery is NOT FREE.
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a Specialist Plastic Surgeon with cosmetic clinics in Sydney and Wollongong NSW. He has performed hundreds of tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty procedures in over 20 years of practice. Plastic Surgeon Dr Maryam Seyedabadi consults at the Woollahra Clinic in East Sydney and is available now for consultations on a range of plastic surgery & cosmetic surgery.
Guide to Tummy Tuck/ Abdominoplasty
What You Need to Do Before Your Abdominoplasty if You Are Concerned About Scars
When choosing a surgeon, it is important to have a close look at their portfolio of photos, their experience, skillset, and typical results. Make sure to select a highly experienced and skilled plastic surgeon for your Abdominoplasty procedure.
It is important to share your concerns regarding scarring during consultation and what you expect it to look like. Based on the surgery, most patients have a V or a U shaped scar. It can be helpful to bring your bikini bottoms and underwear to the appointment so you can decide on the placement of the scar.
Another very important factor is to quit smoking at least six weeks prior to getting the surgery. It can considerably minimise the risk of complications.
What You Need To Do After the Abdominoplasty
It is crucial that you follow all the aftercare instructions given by your surgeon. Some of the general guidelines include but are not limited to:
- Aim at walking at least 10 minutes every day to minimise the risk of swelling and blood clots
- Avoid smoking for a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks or till you are fully healed
- Aim at eating a healthy diet that includes plenty of liquids, fresh fruit, and vegetables
- Avoid lifting heavy items and strenuous activity for at least six weeks after the surgery
- Stay clear of all the stretches, bends, or anything that puts pressure on your abdomen
- Do not indulge in sexual activities for a minimum of three weeks post-surgery
The outcomes shown are only relevant for this patient and do not necessarily reflect the results other patients may experience, as results may vary due to many factors including the individual’s genetics, diet and exercise.
Look Out for Signs of Infection
It is crucial to keep your incisions clean and dry on a daily basis to minimise the risk of infection. Make sure to see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms: excessive bleeding along the incision line, increased or severe swelling, bruising, redness that isn’t getting better, severe pain that isn’t relieved by medication, yellowish or greenish drainage from the incision, any discharge that has an unpleasant odour, loss of feeling or motion, oral temperature over 38°C, fever and chills.
While your incision will be fully healed by around week six, scar healing and maturation can take anywhere from 12 weeks to a year. You might have to wait till then before exploring any cosmetic treatments to minimise the scars. Meanwhile, you can explore some options that can be done at home. While at-home options might not be able to eliminate the scar completely, they can help improve the size, colour, and texture of the scar and surrounding skin.
Treatments for Your Abdominoplasty Scar
Now that you have healed effectively, it is time to work on your scar reduction options. We will go from simple at-home treatments that you can try at home to more advanced options. Without further ado, let’s get started:
1. Vitamin E and massage the scar
Apply topical vitamin E on your scar once your incision heals fully to keep it moisturised. Be sure to choose pure vitamin E oil. Make sure to apply it once a day to your scar for the first couple of months and massage gently. Research shows that Vitamin E oil can help minimise the appearance of scars when used regularly over a long period of time. If you experience any skin irritation or an allergic reaction, discontinue the use. Massaging your scar with oil really helps.
2. Use Sunscreen to protect your scar
Post the surgery, if your scar is being exposed to the sun it is crucial to use sunscreen on your scar every single day even when it’s cloudy outside. Your scars are made up of new skin and will react very differently to the sun. Wearing sunscreen on a daily basis will prevent your scar from becoming darker. You can also choose a formulation that is specifically made for scars and is SPF 30 or higher. Make sure to reapply it throughout the day if you stay outdoors for longer.
3. Pressure Care and Silicone sheet or gels
It has been shown that downward pressure on a healing scar will improve the quality of the final scar result as it stops the scar from raising up above the level of the skin. Silicone sheeting is one way to apply downward pressure as is taping off the scar. Surgeons will often advocate the use of one or both of these for a period following surgery to improve the final result of a scar. Silicone Gels and tapes may also be useful.
4. Skin Needling or Laser Treatment for Scar Minimisation
There are plenty of skin needling or laser treatments available to target the scars. Laser skin resurfacing is one of the options to improve the texture and colour of the scars. Dermapen or Skinpen may also help with Collagen induction therapy.
Laser technology can resurface the skin. Scarred skin is replaced with healthy collagen which improves the overall texture and colour of the scar. If you decide to proceed with these treatment options, you might get two to three sessions over the course of a few months.
5. Steroid Applications and Injections may help thick or keloid scars
Some patients decide to opt for steroid applications and injections to help any raised, thick, red scars – preventing keloid scarring. They might be used by your surgeon at the time of the surgery as a preventative measure or a few weeks after for correction. The cost of these essentially depends on the size and severity of the scar. On average, expect to pay a few hundred dollars per treatment.
6. Surgical Scar Revision
If the scar is not maturing as expected and is excessively raised, stretched, or pigmented then scar revision can be an option. This needs to be assessed and discussed with your surgeon as the timing of surgical scar revision will vary in people with different skin types. Your surgeon will most likely combine topical treatment, minimally invasive procedures and a surgical revision to bring about the desired results.
Please note that with surgical scar revision, you might have to wait a bit longer to get the treatment. Most patients are advised to hold on for around one year before opting for surgical scar removal options.
Consider the Pros and Cons of Abdominoplasty
If you plan to get tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty surgery in near future, it is important to note that you will be left with a permanent scar. But many patients find that this downside is minor compared to the benefits achieved by the Abdominoplasty. In all cases though patients will want to minimise the visibility of their scar, so make sure to stick to all the pre and post-treatment instructions.
Tummy Tuck- Abdominoplasty Scar FAQS
Will tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty scars go away?
- While tummy tuck/ Abdominoplasty scars may fade over time, they won’t completely vanish. Typically, the scars are well hidden by your undergarments. However, if you are still concerned about the scars, you can try at-home scar removal options, lasers or surgical scar removal treatments.
Why are some Abdominoplasty scars so high?
- Ideally, Abdominoplasty incisions should be low enough to be hidden by your underwear. Most surgeons will do everything that they can to minimise scarring. However, if you opt for a less skilled surgeon, you might end up with an incision that is too high and not covered by your underwear.
What does a good Abdominoplasty scar look like?
- The scar will look different at different stages of healing. The scar ideally should be very thin and pink after the surgery, and then fade to a fine white line. As your body triggers the healing response, the colour and look of your scar will change and become more subtle.
What is the right scar treatment after a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty?
- Prevention is important when it comes to scars, and a combination of massage, sunscreen and pressure therapy is key. In the longer term laser skin resurfacing is generally considered to be the suitable treatment for scar removal post tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty. However, each patient is different. What might suit one individual will not suit another and vice versa. The right way is to consult your surgeon and then opt for the recommended treatment.
Why is my stomach hard after a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty?
- Most Abdominoplasty patients will experience a tight feeling in their tummy post-surgery. This is because there will be some swelling, particularly just above the scar that will feel firm and hard for some time. This can persist for some months, but should settle.
Why do belly buttons look weird after an Abdominoplasty?
- During the procedure, the belly button will remain attached to the muscle of the abdominal wall, and remain in the same location. Depending on your particular surgery, it may be reshaped which might result in a different appearance. If your belly button appearance is a concern to you, you can discuss this with Dr Hunt prior to surgery.
How long does it take for a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty scar to flatten?
- If there are no complications, the scar becomes lighter, thinner, flatter and less palpable as well as visible over the period of one to two years. However, everyone heals at a different phase and your scar might flatten at a faster or slower pace.
What hurts worse C-section or tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty?
- An Abdominoplasty is a bigger procedure than a C-section, so will have more post-operative pain and discomfort and take longer to recover from. If you were worried about the pain post-surgery, don’t worry, we will ensure you have adequate pain relief to help you through the post-operative period.
Can I get a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty during C-section?
- Combining C-section with an Abdominoplasty isn’t a great idea. Both these procedures are quite invasive and combining these surgeries will increase potential risks and complications such as excessive bleeding, infection and poor healing.
How can I tone my stomach after a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty?
- Once you are fully healed, you can start exercises that focus on your abs; sit-ups, crunches, and planks. Make sure to check in with your surgeon prior to working out to make sure you don’t cause any complications.
How long does it take for the belly button to heal after an Abdominoplasty?
- It’s normal for the area to look swollen and even a bit crusty after surgery. It will heal over a few weeks, but the appearance will continue to improve over months. Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions on how to care for the area such as cleaning the area with saltwater solution and keeping it clean and dry at all times.
Why is my lower stomach swollen after a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty?
- Swelling post-surgery is very normal and expected. Your blood vessels and lymphatic vessels work as a drainage system for fluids. During an Abdominoplasty, these vessels are cut which results in slower fluid removal and leads to a swollen stomach. This will settle and can take up to a few months to fully resolve.
What is the state of tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty scars after 1 year?
- The scar be fully mature and is likely to be noticeably flatter, thinner, lighter, and less noticeable. It will continue to fade further.
How do I break up scar tissue after a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty?
- Apply gentle pressure to the scar with the help of your finger. Rub in one direction in a smoothing action.
What will Abdominoplasty scars look like after 5 years?
- In five years, an Abdominoplasty scar is quite pale. Hence, most surgeons advise you to wait for a few years before getting any scar removal treatments done.
What will a tummy tuck – Abdominoplasty scar look like after 6 months?
- Your scar will be still quite prominent 6 months post-surgery. It is expected and normal. At this point, you can start looking for scar treatments.
What are the Abdominoplasty scar healing stages?
- The three phases of Abdominoplasty scar healing are the inflammatory stage, the proliferative stage and the remodelling stage. It takes around a year for the scar to fully heal, mature and become lighter.
Further Reading about Abdominoplasty
- Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery page
- What is a Good Weight or BMI before Tummy Tuck – Abdominoplasty Surgery
About Dr Jeremy Hunt – Specialist Plastic Surgeon
Dr Jeremy Hunt is a specialist plastic surgeon performing breast, body, face and nose surgery in Australia. He is a member of FRACS & ASPS and has over 20 years of experience providing plastic surgery in Sydney.
Careful, considerate and honest, Dr Jeremy Hunt works with you to find a solution that is suitable for your body and your lifestyle. Every patient is unique and requires a personalised approach to reach their goals.
Dr Hunt has provided his one-on-one service and attention to detail to thousands of women and men from the Sydney & Wollongong NSW area and across Australia.
Dr Hunt’s qualifications and education
Dr Jeremy A. Hunt MBBS FRACS graduated with a Bachelor of Medicine degree from Sydney University in 1990 and is a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and member of ASPS – the Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons. He completed a Fellowship at the University of Texas in the United States, where he learnt from well-established and experienced plastic surgeons.
Next Step – Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Want more information before scheduling your consultation?
- Find out more about pricing, medical payment plans and paying for your surgery
- Request more information about the procedure – call on 1300 157 200 or contact us
If breast reduction mammoplasty is something you’re considering, Dr Hunt can thoroughly explain all the options to you in a one-on-one consultation.
- Make an Enquiry or Request a consultation with Dr Hunt
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health professional.