What do Tummy tuck scars look like?

Many patients are afraid of getting a Tummy tuck because of the scars. But patients should not be afraid, because these incisions can be surgically placed so that they are not noticeable, even when you wear a bikini after the surgery.

A collage of photos showing a patient before and after a Tummy tuck procedure.
Notice the resulting Tummy Tuck scars are below the panty line

However, you should know that the appearance of the final scar is very dependent on the technique your surgeon uses. Based on some of the before and after photos that I have seen on the web, there is a wide variation in scar placement for this procedure. There are very concrete steps that a surgeon can use to ensure a scar is well placed (and thin enough) to allow the patient to wear a bikini after having a tummy tuck.

To summarize the procedure as it relates to scarring, a full Tummy tuck will require two incision locations in order to tighten the stomach muscles and remove the excess skin.

The two incision locations (and their objectives and concerns) are:

  1. Horizontal incision to remove stretch marks and excess skin:
    Should be placed well below panty line
  2. Belly Button incision to secure belly button in place:
    Should leave the belly button with a natural shape

Both of these incisions can be made with great care so that wearing a bikini without drawing attention to the scar can be possible. However, scarring concerns should be discussed both during your consultation AND on the morning of your actual surgery. Be sure you know where your scars will be placed and be sure your surgeon knows how important it is to you!

Horizontal scar

The horizontal tummy tuck scar is the one most patients are familiar with. This incision must be made in order for your plastic surgeon to remove excess skin. The scar is placed between the belly button and the pubic mound. However, the exact placement of the scar in relation to the panty line is one of the most important decisions that we make. The scar should be placed below the panty line! In fact, there is a way to get the scar low enough on the belly that a bikini can hide it!

A panty line scar after a Tummy tuck procedure.

The markings for the scar location are made on the morning of surgery by your Plastic Surgeon. Before you go under anesthesia, you should know exactly where your scars will be placed!

To get the lowest horizontal scar, your Plastic Surgeon should mark the incision line while pulling up on the abdominal skin. If the marking is made without pulling the skin up, there is a big chance you will get a scar that is too high. In all cases, the incision line should be no more than 3 inches above the vaginal crease if you want to ensure that the scar will be placed low enough for a bikini to hide it.

Belly button scar

A collage of 3 photos showing different types of belly button scars.

Many people are not even aware that an abdominoplasty also requires a small incision at the belly button. When you wear a two piece bathing suit after your procedure, the scar around the belly button can be a clear giveaway of a tummy tuck. The best scar for the belly button is an “inverted U” because it duplicates the look of a real belly button. A scar that leaves the belly button with a round shape usually looks unnatural.

The belly button scar that remains after surgery will therefore be determined by your surgeon’s technique. If he makes a round scar around the belly button, it will look as if there is a bull’s eye or donut right in the center of your belly. Likewise an “inverted Y” scar will make it look like an arrowhead. However, if the surgeon makes the incision as a half circle above the belly button, it will heal as an “inverted U” and duplicate the look of a natural belly button.

When a patient is standing up, the skin on the top of the belly button looks like an inverted U as it hangs slightly over the hole in the belly button that is attached to the abdominal wall. The bottom slants downward because the skin is hanging away from it. Look in the mirror at your own belly button and you will see what I’m referencing. Look at other belly buttons next time you’re at the beach.

Before and After tummy tuck photos

Make use of all the before and after plastic surgery photo galleries and really scrutinize tummy tuck belly horizontal scars and belly buttons. In fact, you can go on over to our photo gallery right here to take a look at our before and after abdominoplasty pictures. These are very representative pictures because the techniques I’m describing in this post give a reliable result.

A final thing to consider if you’re looking at a Tummy tuck is that if you do not have very loose skin or a lot of stretch marks, the tightening of the stomach muscles could actually be done entirely through the belly button incision. You would not need a horizontal incision at all. I have done this procedure several times and it will be the subject of a separate blog post. Stay tuned!

Wondering if a Tummy tuck is right for you?

Contact Us to schedule your in-office or virtual consultation. Or just give us a call at 410-494-8100! Note: Virtual consults can also be used to get second opinions.

By Dr. Ricardo L. Rodriguez MD Board Certified Plastic Surgeon Cosmeticsurg Baltimore, Maryland Ricardo L. Rodriguez on American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

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