Looking After Abdominoplasty Scars
I’m going to run through some important things to consider when looking after abdominoplasty scars after your surgery and as you recover, to help you get the best results possible from your surgery.
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In case you’re new here, a recap is always helpful.
In March 2022 I had a combined abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and male chest reduction (gynaecomastia procedure) after losing 140 pounds. The weight loss left me with loose skin so I had surgery to have the skin removed.
At the time of recording the video above and writing this post, it has been just over 7 months since my procedure and I am way past the most challenging bits of recovery so I can share my experience with the benefit of a bit of hindsight.
In this post, I am talking specifically about the tummy tuck scars and looking after them, and I will do a separate one on the chest reduction scars.
When talking about my experience and surgery in general, I do think it is important to always add some disclaimers.
First of all, bear in mind I am not a qualified doctor or medical professional in any way, shape or form. And I’m definitely not qualified to give medical advice.
Everything I share is directly from my own experience and my own understanding of the advice that was given to me.
And I can answer any questions from that perspective.
But if you have any specific questions about your own situation or circumstances, please do consult a medical professional or someone qualified to help you.
Also in this post, I refer to a couple of products I am using on my skin that work well for me. If at any point you do decide to try new products on your skin, please remember to read the instructions, read the ingredients, and do a small patch test to make sure you don’t have any adverse reactions before using it.
Lastly, for specifics around scar formation and risks around scarring, that goes hand in hand with what I said about not being qualified to give advice. Your care team or the team looking after for your surgery should be consulted for questions about this.
My Procedure And The First Few Weeks
The tummy tuck procedure I had is called a fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty. It is where an incision is done along the waste line, and up the middle of the abdomen to remove excess skin.
It is called this because it resembles the fleur de lis shape:
The first 4 weeks of recovery involved zero scar care.
The wounds were covered in surgical time, and the only things I could do were some gentle massage and trying to walk a lot to help reduce the swelling, in line with the advice I was given.
But I couldn’t start doing any work directly on the scars during this time.
So for the first four weeks, this is all I could do:
- After 2 weeks I was doing some gentle massage on the swollen areas to help reduce the swelling, which I was told can have an impact on the final scar appearance and positioning
- Sleeping on my back with my chest and legs both elevated so I was in a V shape
- Walking regularly after a week and a half or so, but no strenuous activity
After 4 Weeks
After 4 weeks when the tape came off, and that is when I could start doing some more proactive work on looking after and caring for my scars.
My surgeon recommended using silicone gel to cover my scars. This would give them a layer of protection but still allow them to breathe, which they couldn’t do that easily with the tape on.
I ended up going for Kelo Cote Scar Gel.
There are a lot of fakes of this out there so please make sure you buy from an authorised retailer if this is the one you choose.
Or your surgeon or clinic may have their own recommendations.
You apply the gel after a shower, and let it air dry for 4-5 minutes. Then you can put your support garment on, get dressed, and go about your day as normal.
It’s good for about 24 hours so you then just repeat again the next day after your shower.
I wasn’t doing strenuous exercise so I didn’t need to think about how sweat would impact the gel or protection.
I was also getting a lymphatic drainage massage once a week, which is a gentle massage that helps with the swelling. And I also started doing some self-massage on the swelling.
My surgeon also gave me the go-ahead to do some massage on my scars. I stuck to doing it gently because I didn’t really know what I was doing and wanted to err on the side of caution.
I was fine using my hands over the swelling. But I was squeamish about touching my wounds so I opted for a hockey ball instead.
After 6 Weeks
I stopped using the silicone gel after 6 weeks. Make no mistake, it was working well for me.
But it did feel sticky and that made me a bit uncomfortable. And it was getting warmer in the UK so I was starting to sweat a bit more regularly (even without exercise) and it made the sticky feeling spread a bit.
I did probably stop using it a bit earlier than was wise, but it is what it is.
Instead, I switched to Derma E Scar Gel.
This is a gel I have been using for a while for hyperpigmentation I get left with after spots from acne breakouts, and I know it works well for me and my skin responds to it.
So I made the switch – and no I didn’t ask for any advice on this. With the benefit of hindsight, I probably should have but it is too late to go back and change that now. And it didn’t have a negative impact so I guess I got away with it.
Derma E Scar Gel worked well for me.
You massage it over the scars and let it get absorbed. So I got more comfortable with massaging my scars with my hands in the process, and I wasn’t left with a sticky residue either. So win-win.
From Three Months Post-Operation Onwards
From around the three-month mark onwards, there hasn’t been a huge change in what I am doing.
I massage my scars twice a day – once in the morning and once before bed. They also get a little bit of stretching and massage while I am doing yoga, which happens 3-4 times a week.
And I still apply the scar gel twice a day.
And that’s about it.
Abdominoplasty Scars After 7 Months
At the 7-month mark, there is still a bit of hyperpigmentation and redness which is normal. These kinds of scars can take over a year to fully heal.
There is a slightly raised, lumpy bit of scarring on the upper part of my abdomen.
It doesn’t bother me too much. If you think about the rotation that happens through that part of your body even when just turning your head or shoulders slightly, it’s not as easy to prevent movement in that part.
And I suspect that is what caused that.
But the rest of my scars are completely flat. Everything below the belly button is completely smooth. You could run your hands over the skin and if you weren’t looking at my skin, you might not know there are any scars there at all.
Main Things To Consider With Looking After Abdominoplasty Scars
This is a shorter post and video than some of my others on the topic of my surgery. But the main things to bear in mind:
- Listen to your surgical team, and ask them for advice specific to your situation.
- Err on the side of caution with regard to movement so you don’t end up stretching, pushing, pulling or massaging your scars too soon.
- Keep your wounds protected as best you can.
- Be patient.
Scars like this can take over a year to fully heal. They won’t get in the way of your day to day life but stick to taking it slow, being patient and proceeding with caution and you’ll set yourself up, if you follow your medical team’s advice, to get the best results possible from your procedure.