Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck) incision length

“how long will my abdominoplasty scar be?” is a question commonly asked by patients interested in abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery. The answer is: it all depends on where and how much skin and tissue must be removed to make the desired improvement.

If a patient is relatively thin and has only a “pot belly” deformity ( a lax abdominal wall without much excessive/stretched skin), this patient may benefit from an endoscopic abdominoplasty in which a 2 1/2 inch incision is used to repair the abdominal wall to flatten the belly.

If a “pooch” is present in the lower abdomen in which skin & tissue removal is needed only in this confined area, then a mini-abdominoplasty may be all that is needed. This incision is generally well within the hip bones or under 12 inches in length. The patient’s belly button is not violated.

If there is alot of excess skin/tissue or alot of stretch marks which needs to be addressed, then a formal abdominoplasty may be required. This incision will generally extend somewhat beyond the hip bones and a new belly button is made for the patient.

Finally, if the patient wants or needs sagging/excess skin of the thighs or buttocks addressed, or needs the lateral waist contoured beyond what liposuction can reliably accomplish, then an extended abdominoplasty may be needed. This incision curves around the flank region (love handles) or even beyond. Although this procedure involves more linear scarring, it also provides maximal contour improvement and markedly narrows the waist.

So how do you know which procedure is right for you? A thorough consultation with a qualified surgeon who is trained and experienced in all aspects of body contouring can determine your unique needs and answer your questions regarding the extent of improvement that you can expect from the recommended abdominoplasty procedure.

Patients have to be realistic in their expectations. In certain situations, limited incision length may result in limited improvement. Remember, the scars can be placed so that they are well hidden in bathing suits, underwear etc. Also, there is alot more to abdominoplasty surgery than just “how long the incision will be”. In my experience, it is exceedingly rare that a patient complains of the resultant linear length of scarring when they go from a pro-operative size 18 or 20 to a post-operative size 10 or 12 following an extended abdominoplasty procedure.

I hope I’ve shed some light on why abdominoplasty incisions vary patient to patient. So please be patient if Mary Ann can not answer your seemingly straightforward question: “how long will my abdominoplasty scar be?” Until next time, take care. Tim Bradley, MD

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