Tummy Tuck Scars
Abdominoplasty is not a scar-free surgery. Expect your tummy tuck scars will get worse before they get better. Your scars go through a series of changes before they are completely healed and this can take months. Scars may look their worst at about 3 months after the operation as they tend to get very red, thick and raised. They can turn a grey-purple on some people who have a desposition to this occurance. It may take up to a year for your scars flatten and fade.
Most doctors take great care in placing the incisions well below the bikini or under-pant line, so that they remain hidden, even when you’re at the beach. It is important to protect your fresh tummy tuck scars from any sun exposure to give them the best opportunity for fast healing.
You may like to ask your surgeon for his recommendation on using silicone sheeting or other scar minimizing products. These sheets have been shown to lower the occurrence of the formation of keloids on new scars. Keloids are overgrowths of scar tissue that can form in some wounds. Some people, especially people with medium to dark skin as they are prone to developing keloids.
Silicone sheeting is generally used only after your wounds have closed. However, some surgeons instruct their patients to use Steri-Strips rather than silicone sheeting. These are medical paper tape strips and can help flatten scars in the days after surgery. Steri-Strips can be used on top of suture material and on incisions that are not full closed.
You will be told if you should change the dressings over your abdominoplasty incision and how often. You will be instructed on how to bandage your incision and may be given a sheet of instructions on how to do this to ensure you do it right. As the incision heals, you will gradually need less and less bandaging. Usually, the outer ends of the incision heal faster than the center portion of the crosss abdomen scar.
Ask your surgeon when you will be allowed to shower. You will probably be instructed not to take a bath or use a hot tub and avoid swimming until the incision heals. This is to avoid any chance of an infection occurring. Some surgeons allow patients to shower 2 to 3 days after their tummy tuck surgery, while others only allow sponge baths until a week afterwards. If you are allowed to shower, you may be asked to wear your support garments, or with your back to the shower spray. Ask your surgeon for specific showering instructions.
It is important that if you may feel dizzy or unsteady on your feet due to medications or heat to be very careful in the shower. You might want to have someone assist you or just be in the bathroom with you the first few times you shower. You may like to also buy a shower seat, or a small stool or chair that fits in the tub.
You will probably be unable to return to work for at least 3 – 4 weeks after your surgery. Your doctor will tell you when you can return to work and to regular activities. However, the more extensive your surgery, the older you are, the longer the time off from work and other activities will be.
Recovery time from tummy tuck varies from person to person. You may need up 6 weeks off for proper healing if you had a very extensive abdominoplasty and are older. You will also need to wear a abdominal support garment. Another factor is what kind of work you do. If you sit at a desk all day you can probably return to your job sooner than if you are doing heavy lifting work.
You should not resume exercising until your surgeon says you can. Usually this is at least 5-6 weeks or more after your tummy tuck surgery, depending on the extent of your operation the recovery to date. You may also be able to do some types of leg type exercises or gentle sports before you are allowed to do others. Listen to your body, your surgeon and don’t push yourself. Given what you have experienced and the recovery times, you probably will not think about any form of exercising for at least a few weeks.
Having said that you will be encouraged to do small walks every day in the first week and more as the weeks pass. Do these walks as walking around helps prevent blood clot formation and eases swelling.