Tummy tuck incisions vary in size and shape with the type and complexity of the surgery you have. The images show what they look like for each type of tummy tuck operation. After-care instructions are provided as well as typical questions patients have about surgical incisions.

What Incisions Are Involved With A Full Tummy Tuck?

  1. An initial incision is made across the lower stomach (directly above the pubic area). This may involve a long incision extending from hipbone to hipbone.
  2. A second is made around the belly button to detach it from the surrounding skin.
  3. Skin and fat are surgically separated from the abdominal wall and excess skin and fat are removed.
  4. Stomach muscles are tightened by shortening them and suturing them together.
  5. A small incision is made in the remaining skin to create a new opening for the belly button. The belly button is brought out through and sutured to the “new” skin.
  6. Drain tubes used to collect excess blood and fluids after the surgery are placed in the skin usually at locations below incision lines and are removed a few days later on a follow-up visit. Small incisions are made in the skin and are usually located above the pubic bone. These are made to allow the drain tube to exit the body. Sutures are placed to hold the drain tubes in place and keep them from moving.
  7. All incisions are closed with sutures (stitches) and/or staples.
  8. Surgical gauze is placed over the incision area to keep it clean and free from infection.
  9. A compression garment may be placed on the patient at the end of surgery.



What Incisions Are Involved With A Mini-Tummy Tuck?

A mini tummy tuck, also called partial abdominoplasty or mini abdominoplasty, is less invasive and requires only a small incision. Some patients don’t have as much excess or sagging skin above their belly button and do not need as extensive an operation as a full tummy tuck. If most of their fat is located below their navel a mini tummy tuck might be appropriate. This is a less complex procedure and does not involve the belly button.


What Is A Surgical Incision?

The cutting into the skin or body parts by a surgeon as part of an operation. There are two main types. The first one is rather large and is located across the lower stomach (directly above the pubic area). The second is made around the belly button.


Will My Tummy Tuck Leave Scars?

A tummy tuck is not a scar free operation. Scars made from surgical incisions like those in a tummy tuck are permanent. The size and appearance of your scars will depend on the cuts made during surgery, the amount of skin removed, your ability to heal, whether you scar well, your nutrition, your health, your age and physical condition, the skill of your surgeon, and the surgical technique used. Most surgeons try to use the smallest incision possible and try to leave scars in a place that will be covered by clothing.


How Many Incisions Will I Need For My Tummy Tuck?

Two for a full tummy tuck, one for a mini tummy tuck.


Will My Tummy Tuck Incision Leave A Straight Scar Across My Belly?

Usually yes but not always. The shape and length will be decided by your plastic surgeon according to the degree of correction needed. This can usually be determined before the operation.


How Long Should You Keep Incisions and Scars Out Of Direct Sunlight?

Surgeons have varied opinions.

  1. The most conservative surgeons recommend that that you protect your scars and surgical incision areas from the sun for one year after surgery.
  2. Others surgeons think that 6 months is sufficient time to keep surgical scars covered or until the scars have matured well.
  3. Still others surgeons say to avoid direct exposure to sunlight for a minimum of 6 weeks after surgery, then use a sun block (at a minimum).

The safest bet is to check with your own surgeon and follow his advise. He/she will be able to inspect your scars and evaluate the amount of healing that has taken place and and advise you accordingly.


How Do You Know If A Surgical Incision Is Infected?

It may be infected if it feels warm to the touch, turns more red with time, has more pain with time, if the tissue surrounding the incision hardens, become swollen or appears puffy or if you see discolored or foul smelling fluid draining from the incision.


Will My Surgical Incision Form A Scab?

Yes, it is normal to have a scab. Scabs are an indication that your incision is healing. Don’t touch or pick at your scab. Let it fall off naturally. Picking at scabs can lead to slow healing and increased scarring. Typically within two weeks your incision will be free of scabs. Scabs fall off at different rates for different people.


My Surgical Incision Not Healing. What Can I Do?

If you think that you are not not healing properly the only thing you can do is go back to your surgeon and have him/her check it out.


What Can I Expect From Pain Related To Surgical Incision?

Pain is different for everyone. For my tummy tuck and lateral thigh lift operation, my incisions were never painful because they were too numb. After the numbness wore off there was no pain.


How Do I Care For My Incision?

The most important things to do for your incision after surgery is to keep it clean so it doesn’t become infected and will heal quickly. It will likely be closed with sutures, staples, steri-strips or surgical glue.



  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap. Hand washing should be done before touching your incision or changing the dressing on your incision.
  2. Wash with liquid antibacterial soap. Do not scrub. Scrubbing may cause harm and slow healing.
  3. Do not soak or wet the incision area for an extended time such that it puckers and softens.
  4. Rinse your surgical incision well to make sure no soap residue remains.
  5. Gently pat dry your incision and allow to air dry completely
  6. Cover with appropriate bandages or clothing.



  1. Wash your hands with antibacterial soap before removing bandages.
  2. Look for redness. A small amount of redness along the incision line is normal and should not be a concern. It should lessen it heals. If you notice that the redness increases and becomes warm it may indicate an infection and should be reported to your doctor.
  3. Look for drainage. For the first day or two following surgery, a small amount of clear fluid leaking from your incision may occur. If you see greenish/yellowish/bloody or white pus or anything else seeping from your incision it’s probably not a good sign (indication of infection) and should be reported immediately to your doctor.
  4. Look for gaps or openings in you incision. The edges of both sides of your skin should meet evenly and closely. There should be no gaps or openings.



  1. Protecting and keeping your incision area clean will help you avoid complications and allow you to heal faster. It is important never to do anything that will tug or pull on your surgical incision area. These actions can cause your incision to open leading to infections, larger scars and other complications.
  2. Coughing, sneezing, vomiting, bending, lifting heavy objects, bowel movements and other activities may exert stress and pull on your stitches or otherwise open your incision. A general recommendation is to avoid lifting anything over 5 pounds for the first two weeks. If you have to cough, sneeze or do one of the other activities, hold or brace your incision tightly to avoid jarring or stretching of the area. Keep it contained. A tightly bound compression garment works well for this.
  3. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight on you surgical incision. Of course you never want to get a sunburn on the incision area. Sunlight may also increase the appearance of surgical scars.