After a tummy tuck, there will always be a scar. Hiding the scar is vital to an attractive result. No one wants it to be obvious that they had cosmetic surgery, and a big scar that is in plain sight is a dead giveaway.
Tummy tuck scar placement is truly an art. Visible tummy tuck scars draw attention away from your nice, flat tummy. The scar should be carefully hidden in the bikini line where it can’t be seen. The trouble is, changing swimsuit and underwear styles make scar planning difficult.
This article covers everything you need to know about tummy tuck scar placement. From choosing a tummy tuck technique to careful scar planning, all factors will be considered. We will also discuss popular swimwear and underwear styles, as this is very important to scar placement.
Getting a good tummy tuck scar
A tummy tuck will leave scars, like any surgery. A great cosmetic surgeon knows how to place scars so that they are hidden when wearing your preferred style of swimsuit or undergarments. To get a good scar, the surgeon must avoid the following:
Too much tension
This is tricky, because the goal of a tummy tuck is to tighten the skin. The incision should also be closed with adequate tension during the operation. Doctor Bernard does this by adjusting the operating table at a slight bend when he closes the final incisions.
However, this is a delicate balance. You want the incision closed with enough tension that when the skin loosens and relaxes as the swelling subsides in the months following surgery, the skin will stay nice and taut. Yet too much tension can cause problems.
During healing, the skin’s collagen fibers grow to repair the skin. Closing the incision with too much tension can cause the scar to widen and thicken as it heals. It takes a highly trained cosmetic surgeon to close the superficial skin layer with just the right amount of tension. This helps ensure a beautiful result.
Not preserving the blood supply during surgery
Maintaining a good blood supply is critical during the operation. In a full tummy tuck, the abdominal skin is dissected up to the rib line. Next, excess skin is trimmed away. Then the skin is stretched nice and smooth toward the pubis, where it is carefully sutured closed.
During this process, the blood supply near the abdominal muscles may be cut. Doctor Bernard used a modern lipo-abdominoplasty technique that preserves the blood supply. This promotes better healing for a finer, more attractive scar.
Placing the scar too high
Placing the scar high on the bikini line is not a good idea. That is because as the wound heals, the scar tends to migrate up slightly toward the belly button. An incision that is too high on the bikini line can ride up and become visible months after surgery. This is not good. Therefore, it’s important to place the incision slightly below its desired position. That way, if the scar rides up, it will stay nicely hidden in the bikini line.
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What is the Lockwood technique?
Developed in 1995 by Dr. Ted Lockwood, this method greatly improved how surgeons performed tummy tuck surgery. The Lockwood technique is also known as a high lateral tension tummy tuck, or high lateral tension abdominoplasty.
Lockwood’s approach has many advantages. First, it maintains a good blood supply to the wound site during surgery. This reduces the risk of tummy tuck complications, making tummy tucks safer. He was also able to tighten loose skin with far less dissection than older tummy tuck techniques.
An incision is placed horizontally so that it is hidden in the panty line, then the skin is lifted only along the vertical midline of the abdomen. Rather than lifting the skin flaps completely off the abdomen during surgery, his method reduces surgical trauma.
Benefits of the Lockwood technique include:
- Faster recovery time
- Less pain
- Improved blood supply
- Lower risk of tummy tuck complications
- Places tension on the deeper layers of the abdomen, not the top skin layer
- Improved scar healing
- Better skin tightening
- Shorter scar length
The lower the cut, the wider the scar
The lower the cut, the longer the scar must be. This was a big advantage of Lockwood’s tummy tuck technique. With high-cut sides, he was able to succeed in making the scar shorter. Reducing the size of tummy tuck scars is very important.
Yet the Lockwood method is not without fault. Placing the scar very high on the hips is only a good idea for women who wear high-rise jeans, skirts and trousers. Otherwise, a very high scar can be visible in other styles of clothes. The Lockwood technique can be modified slightly so that the scar isn’t placed too high.
Bikini and underwear styles
You may not fancy yourself wearing a bikini, but after a tummy tuck surgery you may consider donning one to the pool or beach sometime.
Convinced you will never wear a bikini again? Many patients that are 35 and older feel that way. However, it is not just swimwear you ought to be concerned about. We want the tummy tuck scar to be hidden when wearing your preferred style of underwear, too.
French-cut bikinis and underwear
French-cut bottoms sit high on the hips. This style was particularly trendy in the 1990s and is still seen today, although to a lesser degree. It is also popular among body builders, so if you can imagine that style, what you are normally looking at is a French-cut bikini with high sides. Some high-fashion swimsuits also favor the French-cut leg. You can also have a French-cut one-piece swimsuit.
This style was in vogue when the Lockwood technique was developed. The Lockwood tummy tuck method is a good choice for this style because the scar was placed higher on the abdomen, particularly at the hips, compared to a traditional tummy tuck. The incision curves upward toward the hips, mimicking the shape of French-cut bottoms.
As a body contouring surgeon that specializes in post-weight loss tummy tucks and tummy tucks after pregnancy, Doctor Bernard’s patients are generally 35 years and up. Women that have finished having children or that have lost a substantial amount of weight in this age group often favor one-piece swimsuits because many say they feel it is age and lifestyle appropriate.
Women that are looking for full coverage swimwear can have a tummy tuck scar almost anywhere they prefer. However, if you wear a one-piece swimsuit with high-cut legs, it is important not to place the cut too low. You don’t want to see the ends of the cut peeking out near the hip area or above the thigh.
Retro high-rise bikinis and underwear
Since 2015 or so, the fashion world has seen a retro resurgence. 1950s style bikini and underwear bottoms that offer full front coverage have been spotted on beaches in many parts of the world.
This style is great for concealing a belly pooch, which is great because many women (even thin ones) tend to accumulate fat on the lower abdomen. New mums also admire the style because it makes hiding a c-section scar quite easy. Plus-size figures will also appreciate this full coverage swimsuit style. It is both chic and flattering on many body types.
This style covers much of the lower tummy, so the tummy tuck scar is easily hidden. This gives your surgeon more leeway in terms of scar placement. Now, the important thing is to look at the legs. High-cut legs mean the tummy tuck incision should not be placed too low.
Monokinis, tankinis & one-piece swimsuits with cutouts
The one-piece cutout swimsuit has been hugely popular for a while now. It gives new mums and post-weight loss patients two advantages. You get the modesty and coverage of a one-piece swimsuit, but can still show off a little skin with strategic cutouts.
This style comes in endless varieties, as the cutouts can be placed anywhere. It can look cute and trendy, or more racy, depending on the size and location of the cutouts. Talk about versatility.
If this is your preferred swimsuit style, take note of how high the legs are cut. We don’t want to place the scar too low if you wear high-cut swimsuits or underwear because the scar could be visible on the outer hip area.
As this is a more fashionable style that you might not wear every day, it may be smarter to think about your preferred underwear style when choosing scar placement. However, if you have a favorite cut-out swimsuit that you have been wearing for many years, we can certainly take this into consideration.
Cheeky bikinis and underwear
Showing off your bum at the beach has been a big swimwear trend the last few years. While not all patients choose this style, it is an important one to discuss as the trend is growing in popularity.
Cheeky bottoms can range from minimal coverage (such as a thong swimsuit) to moderate and full coverage (such as a cheeky hipster bikini or “boy shorts”). If these are your favorite styles, then consider where it sits on your hips. The less coverage, the more careful your surgeon must be with scar placement.
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Changing fashion trends
Doctor Bernard wants you to look great long term. Yes, you should consider what is in fashion now if you love following fashion trends. If you are a fashion trend follower, we must also consider how fashion changes over time. With scar placement, which type of incision will look good not just today, but also ten years from now?
Tummy tuck scar fading will look better with time (usually 1-2 years after surgery), but the scar will be there for life. Good scar placement is crucial!
Low-cut bottoms have been trending for a long time. For this reason, most women have chosen to place the scar fairly low in the last 20-30 years. Now that high-cut hips have started to come back in style, these women risk having a visible scar if they follow the changing trends.
As much as ladies love fashion, Doctor Bernard’s has noticed that most women tend to favor a certain style or cut. You may notice you are always drawn to a certain style that looks good on your body type. Everyone want to wear styles that flatter their figure, not just those the fashion world deems trendy at the moment. So scar planning is simple if you think of it that way.
If you do follow trends, Doctor Bernard can help guide you to choose the ideal scar placement by planning a scar that may suit a variety of bottom styles. While a tummy tuck scar may limit some of the styles you can wear, a well-placed scar will be nicely hidden in your favorite clothes.
What to bring to the consultation
It’s normal for patients to feel apprehensive when they come in for a tummy tuck consultation. However, don’t be shy! Doctor Bernard’s medical office is a safe and welcoming place for patients to express themselves without fear of judgment. Our caring and compassionate staff has been working together for years, helping patients with all body types.
With that said, it is very helpful to bring your preferred style of swimsuit or undergarments to the consultation. Together, you and Doctor Bernard will plan the scar placement so it’s less likely to be visible in the types of clothing you usually wear.
Don’t worry if you feel unsure about where to place the scar
Scar placement is a big decision. But we do not want you to stress about it. It is normal to feel a bit of uncertainty when deciding where you might like the scar to go. We can help talk through all your questions and concerns, and even discuss what other patients have found to be their preferred scar placement, given the changing swimsuit and underwear styles over the years.
Our goal is to help you make a decision that takes both your personal preferences and fashion styles in mind.
Moving the scar is possible in the future…with some caveats
Scar revision is always a possibility. With tummy tucks, it is actually possible to move the scar slightly in the future. If you’re not happy with the tummy tuck scar because of changing fashion styles, tummy tuck scar revision can move the scar up or down by 2-3 cm.
That may not be much, but if you have a visible scar after a tummy tuck for some reason, that may be enough to hide it in the underwear line. You usually cannot move the scar too much, though. That’s because a tummy tuck makes your skin nice and tight. It’s easier to move a scar on loose skin than youthful, tight skin. There is only so much skin to play with once you’ve done a tummy tuck.
Doctor Bernard’s experience helps him get scar placement right the first time.
The tummy tuck is personalized to you
Doctor Bernard’s approach is to tailor surgery to each patient’s vision of beauty. As the patient, your wishes always come first. This is especially true when choosing scar placement.
We can help you decide on scar placement, along with tips and advice. As the patient, you will always have the final say.
Together, you and Doctor Bernard will choose where to place the surgical markings before surgery. With his experience and your preferred swimsuit/underwear style in mind, he will design a beautiful, subtle scar that is neatly hidden where no one can see it.