The tummy tuck is a well-known and versatile procedure that has been around for some time. While a tummy tuck procedure is more involved, more expensive, and even riskier than liposuction or other fat removal procedures, it has its own set of distinct benefits. In this guide, we’ll go over the expectations you should have about your tummy tuck before walking into surgery.
What to Expect After a Tummy Tuck
Since a tummy tuck is a bonafide surgical procedure, your outlook and expectations should be very different from those of someone receiving a less-invasive treatment. We’ve included some of these expectations in the sections below.
Since a tummy tuck is an invasive surgical procedure, you are in for a period of healing and downtime after surgery before your life can return to normal. You must plan your life around your procedure or fit it into a relaxed period of your life since much of what you will be doing is resting. Your body will need ample time to heal, so it’s necessary to have a partner or friend who can help take care of you for the first few days.
Besides care, there are several other things you will need to keep in mind for the days following your surgery. Some of these include:
- How much you can eat and what you can eat following your surgery
- How much physical activity you are permitted to do during the various healing stages after surgery
- How much rest you should be getting
- How often to see your surgeon after your procedure
- How to care for your incision site (and drains, if applicable)
- Warning signs to watch out for during the healing process
During the first few days after your surgery, you will not be allowed to shower. Sponge baths, however, are okay, as long as you do not irritate or stretch the incisions. Sitting during your sponge baths as well as your first few showers is usually recommended. Once your drains are removed, you will be allowed to use the shower again. You will also be asked to wear a compression garment for several weeks following your surgery to reduce the risk of fluid buildup.
Since a tummy tuck is a full surgical procedure requiring anesthesia and sometimes a hospital stay, it can be quite expensive, Mini tummy tucks can start around $5,000, but more extensive procedures can cost up to $14,000. Your doctor should be able to discuss price, your eligibility, and any safety concerns you may have with you before your surgery.
Tummy Tuck Scars
As with any invasive tummy tuck procedure, you will, indeed, be left with a scar. However, what this scar looks like, how bad it will be, and how it will be shaped can depend on your surgeon and their policies. As such, choosing a reputable surgeon that puts you at ease is as essential a part of the process as the healing of the scar itself.
There are many things you can do after the tummy tuck procedure that can reduce the appearance of your scars, too. We will talk about this more below.
How Bad Are the Scars from a Tummy Tuck?
The severity of your tummy tuck scars will largely depend on how successful your healing process is. For example, a patient who doesn’t take care of their procedure site after surgery and allows it to become infected will have much more extensive scarring than a patient that cares for their procedure site well.
There are also several shapes of tummy tuck scars available, and these will depend on the extensiveness of your procedure. Ask your doctor what shape they plan to use before the day of your procedure, and you may want to ask to see some pictures of your doctor’s past work, as well. This way, if you’re not a fan of the look of your doctor’s previous patients’ scars, you can search for a doctor whose portfolio you do like.
Do Tummy Tuck Scars Go Away?
Tummy tuck scars do fade slightly with time. Most tummy tuck scars will take about a year to finish healing completely. It’s recommended that you wait to decide on any invasive or expensive scar reduction treatments before this year is up, as you won’t be able to fully appreciate the appearance of the scar until then. Generally, though, tummy tuck scars will not fade away completely on their own.
How to Heal Tummy Tuck Scars
Healing your tummy tuck properly after surgery is extremely important in reducing the appearance of the scar. After your surgery is complete and you’ve moved on to the healing phase, make sure to do the following things to promote good, smooth healing:
- Refrain from smoking for at least six weeks after surgery
- Avoid sexual activity or gratification for at least three weeks after surgery
- Refrain from strenuous activities and heavy lifting for at least six weeks following your surgery
- Avoid activities that stretch or bend the skin of your abdomen while your incision site heals
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet during your healing process to promote healthy skin growth
- Try to transition to gentle walking as soon as you’re physically able to after your surgery; Doing this reduces the risks of blood clots significantly and helps keep swelling down
Tummy Tuck Scar Removal
Once the healing of your procedure area is complete, you can move on to thinking about different ways to reduce its appearance. There are various ways to do this, the best of which we will go over below.
Some trials have found that vitamin E exposure in scars is excellent for improving the healing process and ensuring a better long-term result. Vitamin E is a common ingredient in many skin creams and other topical remedies, and unsurprisingly, it’s just as effective on scars, too. The optimal time to use vitamin E on your scar is during the first few months after surgery; however, do not apply vitamin E to an open wound, either.
Apply vitamin E once per day to your scar once the wound has fully closed. It’s helpful to massage the vitamin E into your skin during this time, as well, to be sure that it’s absorbed and doing its job.
Scar Removal Creams
Creams and lotions marketed towards scar reduction or removal tend to be a bit of a hit-or-miss option for scar reduction. However, the best chance to see results from these creams is to use them on newer scars. Old scars tend to be better-established and harder to remove or fade with topical applications, but a young scar is far more flexible and often more receptive to treatment.
Laser Scar Removal
Laser scar removal is not an actual scar “removal” per se. However, a doctor or surgeon experienced in laser use can reduce the appearance of a scar significantly. This even includes older, difficult-to-remove scars.
During laser scar removal, your surgeon or doctor will use a laser to abrade the first few layers of skin above the scar. Doing this stimulates the growth and production of newer, healthier skin cells on the scar site, healing over deeper evidence of the scar.
Surgical Scar Removal
Surgical scar removal is the only real way to remove a scar completely. However, since surgical scar removal is technically another surgery, you will be left with more scars afterward. As such, surgical scar removal is more of a “second chance” than anything – if you fail to take proper care of your operation site after your surgical scar removal, you may be left in the same situation you were in before.
Punch grafting is a form of surgical scar removal that involves grafting skin from other areas of the body over an existing scar for a smoother look. Again, since this is a surgical procedure, it is dependent on good healing practices to truly help minimize the appearance of your scars. However, if the area heals properly, your scar will look far smoother and softer than before your punch grafting.
Steroids are an extremely valuable treatment that also have their merits in scar treatment and prevention. If you desire, it’s possible to receive a steroid injection or other treatment at your procedure site soon after surgery to help prevent the formation of scars. Alternatively, you can receive the same treatment several months after surgery to help minimize their appearance after they’ve already formed.
Scars are more sensitive to the sun’s damage than our normal skin, so it’s very important to protect your scar from the damaging effects of the sun for at least one year after surgery. Failing to do this can not only affect the appearance of your scar but also open you to the possibility of skin damage and cancer.
As such, it’s very important to apply and maintain sunscreen on your scar after your procedure. Sunscreens specifically made to protect scars exist on the market, but normal sunscreen will also do in a pinch. If possible, though, it’s always better to minimize your scars’ exposure to the sun in the first place by covering up or staying in the shade.