Want a smoother, flatter belly but don’t want your friends to know you’ve had a tummy tuck? Lucky for you, it can be done. There are two simple keys to achieving a “secret” tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty.
- Get the operation during the cooler months, preferably fall.
- Choose a plastic surgeon who knows how to hide the telltale signs.
By following these steps, you can hide out under a sweater during your recovery and then emerge like a butterfly in the spring with no scar to be seen. Following is more detailed information on how your plastic surgeon can help you hide your tummy tuck, scars and all.
Tummy Tuck Recovery Can Take a While
I wish I could tell you all that you can have the operation, then wake up the next day and look great, but I’d be lying. The truth is that it takes about 3 months for most of the healing to take place. Most patients are looking and feeling much better by 3 to 6 weeks, but there is clearly some swelling that needs to abate and there is no medical therapy that will speed the process. The tincture of time is the only medicine that will help. So, if you want your tummy tuck to be a secret, the most important advice I can give is to have the procedure during the cooler months when you can cover up—and nobody will notice!
Signs of a Bad Tummy Tuck
As an experienced plastic surgeon, I see many patients who have had cosmetic surgery work done by other surgeons. Three problems I often encounter are:
- Absurdly high tummy tuck scars that are visible in a swimsuit.
- Upside down “T” shaped scars that extend upwards in the center.
- Obvious bellybutton scars that look artificial.
Unfortunately, even when I can fix these poorly executed procedures, the patients often need the equivalent of a completely new tummy tuck. That means double the discomfort, healing time and expense, all of which could have been avoided by going to a respectable, board-certified plastic surgeon in the first place.
How To Hide a Tummy Tuck Scar
While no surgeon can promise a patient that their tummy tuck scar will heal nicely—that depends on a number of factors—I can and do make sure that the scar ends up hidden under a bathing suit of their choosing. I accomplish this in a few different ways.
First, before the surgery, I have my patients don the garment they want to wear after the tummy tuck, and I mark the outline of this garment in red ink. I then plan out the abdominoplasty and mark all of my incisions within that boundary. This ensures that when the procedure is done, the patient will be able to wear at least one bathing suit to the beach or pool the next time they venture out.
Next, I make sure my initial incision lies about 2 1⁄2 to 3 inches above the upper portion of the external labia on stretched skin. That is typically below 95 percent of the Cesarean section scars I come across and means that the C-section scar can be removed and replaced by the tummy tuck scar. This low scar makes the final result much less obvious to onlookers. You can view many more examples of tummy tuck photos here.
While genetics play a large role in how your tummy tuck scar fades, silicone sheets, tape, or cream can help. Apply them for the first 6 weeks after your procedure to encourage scars to develop as thin, flat, and pale as possible.
Fine-Tuning the Bellybutton
Browse any fashion magazine or Victoria’s Secret catalogue, and you will notice that bellybuttons follow one fairly common theme: They all have a little hood above and a groove leading upward.
During the final stages of a tummy tuck, I strive to mimic this look by using a variety of techniques, some of which I have developed myself. The result is a rather small umbilical scar that is hidden beneath the bellybutton hood. If the initial result isn’t perfect, I may adjust it at the three-month mark at no extra charge. Patients don’t mind this extra procedure—there is no significant discomfort since the procedure involves skin only.
Not all plastic surgeons devote so much time and attention to these final steps. However, during surgery, I often spend 20 to 30 minutes on the bellybutton alone, both for the client’s sake and because the bellybutton is the only part of my operation that the public is likely to see. That makes it worth the time to get it right and make it look natural.
Interestingly, this process has actually spawned a whole new area of expertise for me—bellybutton repair, or umbilicoplasty. Many people are unhappy with the appearance of their bellybutton, even those who haven’t had a tummy tuck. Some of them have found my photographs online and come in asking me to cosmetically improve the look of their bellybuttons, too.
These patients invariably leave very satisfied with my umbilicoplasty procedure. It is performed under local anesthesia in the privacy of my office and they have very little discomfort afterwards.
Secret Tummy Tuck Summary
If you are looking for an amazing tummy tuck that will leave your friends wondering, make sure your surgeon is board certified and ask detailed questions about the procedure and how they’ll hide signs of a tummy tuck. If you are in the New York metro area, I’m happy to meet with you. Please request a consultation or call us at (212) 249-4020 to schedule an appointment.