Tummy Tuck Scar Treatment Options: From Topicals to Technology

  • Rajni Sarma MBBS, MD from North-Eastern Hill University, India
  • Raadhika Agrawal Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal, India

Are you curious about exploring the options for treating the scars after the tummy tuck procedure? Whether you have recently undergone a tummy tuck or are considering one shortly, discover the secrets for early recovery with a smoother, scar-free abdomen. This article unveils effective strategies to help you reduce tummy tuck scars and the available methods to treat the scars.

Understanding tummy tuck  

There is a boom in cosmetic surgery demand post-COVID-19 pandemic. As per The British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, tummy tuck procedure has witnessed a surge of 130% from the previous year. According to the latest figures, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, liposuction, breast reduction, and rhinoplasty or nose job are the six most popular aesthetic surgeries in the United Kingdom.

What is tummy tuck surgery?

It is a procedure to remove excess skin and fat hanging around the abdomen and tighten the abdominal wall. It is also known as abdominoplasty. In short, it is a cosmetic surgery to achieve an aesthetically pleasing flat and firm abdomen.1

What could go wrong after a tummy tuck?

Following a tummy tuck, you may experience any of the following complications:

  • A thick and prominent scar
  • Underskin bulge
  • Delay in the wound healing process
  • Edges of scar with extra skin, also known as dog's ear
  • Hematoma
  • Pain or numbness near the incision or legs

Does every scar need attention?

Scar formation is a natural body process; you can expect a scar in the healing area after any surgical procedure. Ideally, scars flatten and fade away within a few months without any sequelae. 

Suspicion arises when a scar becomes dark, thick, raised, and visible. These scars produce excess dermal tissue due to increased fibroblast proliferation and accumulation of haphazardly arranged new collagen bundles.2

There is a possibility that such scars may develop into aggressive forms like hypertrophic scar or keloid, which occurs in as high as 3.7% of post-abdominoplasty cases.3

Preventing tummy tuck scar after surgery

Six smart tips to minimize scar

Preventing scarring is always better than dealing with unpleasant scars. Let's uncover the secrets to smoother and lighter scars:1,4,5

  1. Choose a qualified cosmetic surgeon and clinic for your procedure
  2. Quit smoking before surgery
  3. Keep your incision area clean and sterile 
  4. Maintain a semi-Fowler position for two weeks post-surgery to reduce the risk of hypertrophic scar.
  5. Avoid strenuous exercise or heavy work immediately for 4 to 6 weeks
  6. Start scar massage once your wound is healed and continue it for at least six weeks

How do you make your scars less visible?

You can follow simple do-it-yourself remedies to make your scar look better.

Gentle massage

When you massage your scar gently, it breaks down non-pliable and excess collagen, making it softer and smoother. You can apply a water-based cream like aqueous or E45 cream several times daily for up to 10 minutes each time.

Cover your scar 

Keep your scar covered for at least one year after the surgical procedure when exposed to the sun.

Apply sunscreen

Remember to apply sunscreen if you plan to spend time outdoors. Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or more.

Moisturize your skin

Maintaining skin hydration during 2 to 3 weeks of the scar healing process helps improve the aesthetics of the wound and the scar. You can use products such as vitamin E oil, cocoa butter, and petroleum jelly for better results.

Each scar heals at a different pace; therefore, don't worry if your scar takes longer to fade and flatten.

What do you do if a scar continues to bother you? 

A tummy tuck scar can take as long as 12 to 18 months to heal. It is always worthwhile to wait for at least one or two years before exploring the options for any cosmetic intervention.  

If you have an uncomfortable, itchy, painful, or abnormal-looking scar, your doctor can suggest any of the following treatments:6,7,8

  • Topical scar treatment
  • Drug injection
  • Technology-based therapy, such as laser
  • Surgical scar revision

Topical scar treatment for tummy tuck scar

Silicone-based products on intact skin

It is used as the first line of treatment for mild hypertrophic scars. You can continue silicone therapy as long as necessary. Silicone gel, silicon oil with vitamin E as an additive, silicone cream compounds, and silicone gel sheets are commonly used products.2,6,7

  • It hydrates the wound and prevents extra collagen deposition
  • It is suitable for itchy scars and helps to reduce the size and discomfort of the scars


Intralesional drug injection of glucocorticosteroids such as triamcinolone acetonide every 2 to 4 weeks can flatten your scar tissue. Combining corticosteroids with antitumor agents such as 5-fluorouracil, botulinum toxin A, and bleomycin inhibits fibroblast proliferation and controls collagen synthesis.6,7

  • It reduces the height and thickness of the scar
  • It makes it painless and less itchy

Advanced technology-based scar treatment

In recent years, high-energy techniques for scar treatment are becoming increasingly popular, such as 6,7

  • Laser therapy
  • Radiofrequency therapy
  • Ultrasound therapy
  • Cryotherapy

Laser therapy is a game-changer in the treatment of tummy tuck scars. Let's discuss laser therapy to understand how it works.

Laser therapy for scar reduction

Type of laser therapy 

Pulse dye laser

It is the commonly used laser for post-surgical scars such as tummy tuck scars. It works well on small scars.4

Fractional carbon dioxide (CO2) laser

It works well with severe forms of scarring such as hypertrophic scars and keloids. 8

How laser therapy works

The laser targets haemoglobin, vessels, and melanin pigment, causing scar tissue breakdown, remodelling, and production of new collagen fibres. Laser treatment can not altogether remove a scar but can bring the following changes:4,7,8

  • Reduces the redness in an erythematous scar or pigmented scar
  • Improves the scar texture by smoothening it
  • Shrinks the scar size and height
  • Calm down your itchy and painful scars 

Surgical scar revision 

Scar revision in tummy tuck typically does not require complex surgical procedures, as with burns or trauma. Your surgeon will assess whether you need surgical correction based on your scar's size, shape, thickness, and age.

Revision surgery for tummy tuck scar includes simple resection followed by wound suturing. The risk of recurrence of scar can be minimized further by immediate radiation therapy after revision surgery.7

The outcome of tummy tuck scar treatment

All invasive or noninvasive procedures for treating post-abdominoplasty scars have benefits and disadvantages. Let's explore the risks and benefits of these treatments.

Benefits of tummy tuck scar treatment

Aesthetic benefit

You can achieve a tummy tuck that is almost flawless and attractive

Emotional impact

Prominent scars after a tummy tuck can depress you. Successful scar treatment can boost your self-confidence and promote well-being.

Cons of tummy tuck scar treatment

Result is unpredictable

You cannot get scar-free skin. In addition, there is a high probability that it won't meet your aesthetic requirements.

Financial issues

Frequent visits for treatment are costly, and you should be financially ready to bear the expenses.

Risk of recurrence

No revision scar treatment can guarantee a recurrence-free result. Keloid scars are known to recur after revision surgery.7

Side-effects associated with scar therapy

Laser therapy can cause redness and blisters. Revision surgery can occasionally lead to infection, bleeding, and additional scars.


Which tummy tuck method hides the scar better?

The scar from the horizontal incision in a mini tummy tuck procedure is small enough to be hidden under your bikini line. It is almost the length of a C-section.1

On the other hand, a standard tummy tuck or full abdominoplasty leaves a larger scar. However, this procedure gives a better shape to your tummy than a mini tummy tuck.3  

When should I start scar care after a tummy tuck?

Start scar care as soon as the wound heals completely. Ideally, within 2 to 3 weeks post-surgery, your healed scar is expected to get tensile strength. That is the best time to start taking scar care.5

Why is sunlight harmful for the recently formed scars?

Ultraviolet rays can damage scar tissue's collagen, particularly those formed within 18 months after surgery. Additionally, exposure to sunlight results in hyperpigmented scars.5


Cosmetic surgery such as tummy tuck can result in complications such as prominent, painful, and itchy scars. Getting a tummy tuck without a blemish is impossible; however, scar management can help minimize scar tissue-related complications. Tummy tuck scar treatment ranges from topical ointment and laser to surgical revision. Weighing the side effects and outcome of each scar-reducing technique is crucial for outstanding results.


  1.  Regan JP, Casaubon JT. Abdominoplasty. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; July 24, 2023.
  2.  O’Brien L, Jones DJ. Silicone gel sheeting for preventing and treating hypertrophic and keloid scars. Cochrane Libr [Internet]. 2013; Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.cd003826.pub3
  3. Vidal P, Berner JE, Will PA. Managing complications in abdominoplasty: A literature review. Arch Plast Surg [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 Oct 6];44(05):457–68. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.5999/aps.2017.44.5.457
  4. Fu X, Dong J, Wang S, Yan M, Yao M. Advances in the treatment of traumatic scars with laser, intense pulsed light, radiofrequency, and ultrasound. Burns Trauma [Internet]. 2019;7. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s41038-018-0141-0
  5. Commander S, Chamata E, Cox J, Dickey R, Lee E. Update on postsurgical scar management. Semin Plast Surg [Internet]. 2016;30(03):122–8. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0036-1584824
  6. Yang S, Luo YJ, Luo C. Network meta-analysis of different clinical commonly used drugs for the treatment of hypertrophic scar and keloid. Front Med (Lausanne) [Internet]. 2021;8. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.691628
  7. Monstrey S, Middelkoop E, Vranckx JJ, Bassetto F, Ziegler UE, Meaume S, et al. Updated Scar Management Practical Guidelines: Non-invasive and invasive measures. J Plast Reconstr Aesthet Surg [Internet]. 2014;67(8):1017–25. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bjps.2014.04.011
  8. Leszczynski R, da Silva CA, Pinto ACPN, Kuczynski U, da Silva EM. Laser therapy for treating hypertrophic and keloid scars. Cochrane Database Syst Rev [Internet]. 2022;9(9):CD011642. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD011642.pub2
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Rajni Sarma

MBBS, MD from North-Eastern Hill University, India
MSc in Molecular Pathology of Cancer, Queen's University, Belfast, UK

I worked as a medical doctor for almost eight years before applying to Queen’s University Belfast for MSc in Molecular Pathology of Cancer. My outstanding verbal and demonstrative skills have helped me to get distinction in my master’s program.

However, I found my true passion in medical writing. Therefore, after I graduated from Queen’s University, I decided not to join any laboratory but to restart my career as a medical writer.

The topics that intrigue me are haematology, oncology, rare diseases, immunology, gynaecology, molecular pathology, targeted therapy, and precision medicine. I am currently an intern at Klarity and a volunteer medical writer for a health and wellness website.

my.klarity.health presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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