If you are like most people considering an abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck, the scar is a top concern. The truth is that scarring is part of the procedure, but as board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Steven Camp explains, there are ways to minimize its appearance and love your look after a tummy tuck.
The Tummy Tuck Scar
The tummy tuck is one of the most popular procedures, and one of the most “needed.” Patients are often overjoyed with the flatter stomach and improved look of the muscles in the mid-section after the surgery, especially when it corrected things that cannot be fixed with diet and exercise. That said, the downside of the operation is the scarring.
It’s important to talk about it before the procedure, according to Dr. Camp. “A tummy tuck scar is one of the most important things to decide upon for patient and surgeon,” he shares. He says that he can get a good idea from the first examination how the scar picture will play out with each patient. “I will always tell a patient when I examine them in the office, where the lose skin stops and starts at the edge of the hip bone,” he explains. “That’s where you can see a natural crease or break point.” Camp says this gives him and the patient a good idea about potential scarring.
Camp tries to bring home the fact to patients that scarring is an inevitable part of tummy tuck surgery. He says the type of scar you have depends on a couple of variables and not necessarily on the procedure. “The length of the tummy tuck scar depends on the amount of extra fat and lose skin,” says Camp. He indicates that there is some thought that scars vary in length depending on the type of tummy tuck procedure (full or mini) and that isn’t usually the case. Camp says some patients worry that longer scars will create greater pain, but he says length is needed for precision and won’t produce discomfort.
“It’s really important for us to get all of the tailoring and redrawing that’s required for a nice tummy tuck to make the incision long enough,” Camp shares. “Sometimes, patients confuse the idea that a longer incision will be a more painful or worse outcome cosmetically, but it’s actually not the case, it’s the opposite.”
He says it’s also incorrect that longer scars are more painful. “One of the biggest myths that I end up debunking is that the length of that scar makes it painful. The scar down below, especially on the skin, is not the painful part, it’s actually the part underneath. Around the belly button and in the middle where the muscles are brought back to the mid line, that hurts the most.”
What’s Worse – a Tummy Tuck or C-Section?
It’s a common question, according to Dr. Camp. Women want to know how the pain and/or discomfort of a c-section compares to a tummy tuck. “Patients are looking for a tummy tuck after a c-section and a lot of times they want to know, ‘Is this going to be the same, better or worse?'” Camp says he explains it simply with the amount of work that is done under the skin. There’s vastly more work in a tummy tuck.
“The real difference is the amount of surgery dissection, meaning the amount of work that we do underneath the skin,” he continues. “It’s different from the sharp pain that they might have with the c-section. It’s tighter and a little more uncomfortable for longer with the tummy tuck. With a tummy tuck, we are creating tension on purpose because we want it tight, we want it flat, that’s what makes it pretty.”
He says it relieves some anxiety for patients when they understand the procedure. “What I find is that patients like to know what they are getting into and then they aren’t afraid. They just want to be aware.” Once they make it through, Camp finds that patients are overwhelmingly pleased that they decided to do it.