Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck surgery removes excess skin and fat, and tightens the abdominal muscles to create a smoother, firmer abdomen with improved contour and shape. The results are usually immediate, but can be obscured by swelling and bruising, in the immediate post-operative period. Within a couple weeks, you should be able to stand tall and fully extend your abdomen to appreciate your slimmer profile. Although good results are expected, there are no guarantees and in some cases, revision surgery may be required. Sometimes people do not have a totally flat abdomen after tummy tuck even though the excess skin and fat is removed due to the fact that the intra-abdominal contents still remain intact and are still behind the tightened abdominal muscles.
Your tummy tuck scar will extend from hip to hip, below the bikini line, which will initially be a flat, pale pink, linear incision. During the maturation process, which last approximately 1 year, the scar will change in color and appearance. At approximately 2-3 months after surgery, the scar may become reddened and slightly raised due to collagen formation in the scar. Scar massage, moisturizing creams, and silicone sheeting strips will help to soften the scar and improve its appearance over time.
Your belly button will also have a circumferential scar around it which will also require scar massage and moisturizing cream or silicone sheeting. Your surgeon may also suggest packing your belly button with gauze or even a cotton ball to keep its inward appearance while healing. Packing is generally done with a small piece of gauze or a cotton ball which is dampened with normal saline and placed inside the belly button to keep shape. The dressing to the umbilicus will need to be changed daily in the immediate post -operative period.
Scar massage and skin moisturizing is suggested to be performed several times throughout the day, while silicone sheeting strips can be applied to the scars, and left on for most of the day or throughout the night. The silicone sheeting strips can be purchased at the pharmacy, on-line, or a medical supply store. Moisturizing creams can be as simple as Vaseline or Aquaphor to be used on the surgical incisions to help soften and lighten the scar. We are not as concerned with the type of moisturizing cream that is used on the scars as much as the actual scar massage itself. Scar massage can be performed using circular motions along the scar, in a clockwise and then counterclockwise direction, followed by massaging vertically, and then horizontally, across the scar. You can massage the scars in the shower, with soap and water, and then again with moisturizing cream after you have showered. We suggest scar massage many times throughout the day for 5-10 minutes each session.
It is important to strictly follow your post-operative tummy tuck instructions. We encourage you to walk around immediately in the post- operative period. You will keep all your surgical dressings intact and the surgical binder will remain on until your first post-operative appointment with Dr Totonchi. You will continue to wear your compression binder for 4 more weeks, which will only be taken off for showering and laundering of the binder. You will have lifting restrictions, which includes no heavy lifting greater than 5-10 pounds, for 4 weeks. No excessive activity is permitted, such as aerobics, twisting, jumping, running, or any abdominal sheering motions for 6 weeks after the procedure. You need to allow your body, and underlying tissues time to fully heal.
Call the office today for a tummy tuck consult with Ali Totonchi, MD, plastic surgeon, in Cleveland, Ohio, 440-461-7999.