Tummy Tuck and Stretch Marks_ All You Need to Know

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, can dramatically refine body contours by removing loose, overhanging skin and fat and tightening underlying abdominal muscles. However, many plastic surgeons say that while a tummy tuck excels at tightening loose skin on the abdomen, it offers limited improvement regarding stretch marks. 

Tummy tuck and stretch marks are related in that though some mild fading of stretch marks is possible after tissue removal and skin tightening, most stretch marks persist to some degree following surgery. Patients considering a tummy tuck should have realistic expectations about the procedure’s abilities and limitations in improving the appearance of stretch marks.

Tummy Tuck and Stretch Marks: What to Expect

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, can help tighten loose abdominal skin and muscles but may not eliminate existing stretch marks in the treated area.

  • Oftentimes, stretch marks persist in the upper abdomen after a full tummy tuck.
  • Excess loose skin is removed during surgery, not stretch marks or damaged skin.
  • It’s unrealistic to expect all stretch marks to vanish completely
  • Some fading of stretch marks is possible but varies by individual
  • Inform your surgeon ahead of time about existing stretch marks and goals
  • There are few surgical options to remove old stretch marks completely

Do Stretch Marks Go Away After a Tummy Tuck?

While stretch marks may fade slightly due to skin tightening and removal of excess tissue, most stretch marks do not disappear entirely after a full tummy tuck procedure.

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TimelineVisibilityPermanence
Immediately afterHidden by dressings initiallyStill present under incisions
After dressings removedNoticeable againCollagen damage remains
First monthSwelling distorts appearanceAre not removed by surgery
3-6 monthsSurface wrinkling improvesMost remain visible
1-5 yearsFurther minor improvementNever disappear fully
With future pregnancyLikely to return and intensifySurgery does not prevent recurrence

This table indicates how the visibility of stretch marks changes over time after a tummy tuck. It demonstrates that while they may fade somewhat, stretch marks do not go away permanently after surgery.

Stretch marks may recur with future weight fluctuations

How to Minimise Stretch Marks After a Tummy Tuck There are a few techniques that can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks following an abdominoplasty for improved contour and appearance.

  • Apply prescription cream with glycolic acid post-surgery
  • Use silicone tape or gel sheeting on healing scars
  • Follow the surgeon’s instructions for scar care
  • Avoid direct sunlight exposure on scars
  • Massage scars with moisturiser over time
  • Consider laser skin treatments to improve their appearance
  • Maintain a healthy, stable weight

What is the Best Procedure to Remove Stretch Marks?

What is the Best Procedure to Remove Stretch Marks

A combination approach yields the best cosmetic results for removing unsightly stretch marks.

ProcedureHow it WorksProsCons
Topical RetinoidsSpeeds cell turnover to rebuild skinImproves texture, affordableTakes several months, irritating
Laser ResurfacingVaporises skin cells, prompting regenerationStimulates collagen, precisionExpensive, significant downtime
DermabrasionSands skin using an abrasive toolEnhances penetration of productsRequires anaesthetic, redness
MicroneedlingTriggers wound healing with small puncturesLow risk, affordableMultiple treatments needed
Chemical PeelsApplies acid solution to peel skin layersTightens skin exfoliatesCauses temporary swelling, stinging

This table compares common methods for improving the appearance of stretch marks in terms of how they work and their advantages and disadvantages. There is no singular best option for every patient.

Can a Tummy Tuck Get Rid of Old Stretch Marks? 

While a tummy tuck is highly effective for tightening loose abdominal skin after weight loss or pregnancy, it cannot erase damaged skin tissue where stretch marks have formed.

  • Stretch marks represent injured dermal tissue.
  • Old scars have deposited collagen bundles.
  • Surgery exercises excess skin only
  • Laser or radiofrequency treatments address them better
  • Some fading is possible after tissue removal
  • Inform surgeon of stretch mark concerns pre-op
  • Additional procedures may be required

Does a Tummy Tuck Help With Loose Skin and Stretch Marks? 

A tummy tuck procedure, or abdominoplasty, is designed to remove excess loose skin in the abdominal area for a flatter, firmer profile but does not remove existing stretch marks.

  • Repairs stretched-out abdominal muscles.
  • Tightens remaining abdominal skin after tissue removal
  • May achieve slight improvement of stretch marks
  • Works well in conjunction with liposuction
  • Still require stretch mark treatment afterwards
  • Requires about 4-6 week recovery period
  • Produces visible scar from hip to hip

What Causes Stretch Marks After a Tummy Tuck? 

Several factors can lead to new stretch marks on the abdomen following a tummy tuck surgery.

  • Weight fluctuations before final healing
  • Too much tension when suturing the skin
  • Over-aggressive activity levels post-surgery
  • A genetic tendency for stretch marks
  • Sudden gain or loss of a large amount of weight
  • Changes to skin elasticity due to ageing
  • Pregnancy can re-damage tightened muscles

How to Treat Stretch Marks After Tummy Tuck Surgery

How to Treat Stretch Marks After Tummy Tuck Surgery

 Using non-invasive techniques starting about 4 weeks post-op can help reduce the appearance of stretch marks that remain from before or develop after an abdominoplasty.

  • Apply moisturisers containing vitamin E daily.
  • Use over-the-counter retinoids nightly.
  • Try skin needling once incisions close
  • Consider laser treatments when approved by the surgeon
  • Protect fresh scars from sun exposure
  • Follow the surgeon’s scar care instructions diligently
  • Be patient since skin healing takes about a year

Preventing New Stretch Marks After Abdominoplasty 

There are methods patients can follow before and after surgery to help minimise the chances of getting additional stretch marks on the abdomen following a tummy tuck procedure.

  • Maintain steady weight pre- and post-surgery
  • Use moisturisers and topical treatments religiously
  • Follow activity restrictions during the recovery period
  • Limit sun exposure on healing skin
  • Increase intake of food rich in zinc and vitamin C
  • Stay hydrated and eat a nutrient-rich diet
  • Be aware pregnancy may re-damage tightened muscles

Risks and Complications of Stretch Marks 

With abdominoplasty, stretch marks can impact the risks and aesthetic outcomes following an abdominoplasty, whether residual from before or developed afterwards.

  • Affects how uniformly skin tightening will appear
  • May require additional tightening or revision surgeries
  • Alters quality and texture of skin in surgical site
  • Can extend healing time if skin tearing occurs
  • Re-stretching risks disrupting scar tissue
  • Variations in the number and types of complications
  • Compromises appearance patients hope to achieve

While a tummy tuck effectively tightens loose abdominal skin and muscles, it offers limited improvement for stretch marks. Some fading may occur post-surgery, but complete removal is uncommon since a tummy tuck cannot restore damaged dermal tissue. Most scars remain visible to varying degrees despite optimal surgical outcomes and healing. 

The relationship between tummy tucks and stretch marks means combining abdominoplasty with secondary skin treatments provides the best aesthetic results. Patients considering surgery should discuss stretch mark expectations with their surgeon pre-operatively and plan for the likely need for supplemental procedures over time.

Book a consultation with Dr Shehzadi Tasneem Sultan, an esteemed plastic surgeon skilled in body contouring and facial rejuvenation. With vast experience in Pakistan, the UK, and Dubai and as a member of several professional societies, Dr Sultan offers the latest plastic surgery, from breast surgery to facial aesthetics. Her patient-focused care ensures personalised and safe transformations.

FAQs

While some improvement is possible, a tummy tuck cannot remove damaged skin and usually cannot eliminate stretch marks.

Treating stretch marks before surgery can help improve the overall aesthetic results but is not mandatory.

A tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat and tightens the abdominal muscles for a flatter, firmer profile.

Yes, but pregnancy can compromise a tummy tuck’s results and lead to stretch mark recurrence.

Combining liposuction with an abdominoplasty can further refine results for some patients.