Stretch marks develop when the skin is stretched beyond its ability to retract. They develop following injury to the dermal (structural) layer of the skin as the epidermis (the most superficial skin layer) stays intact. Stretch marks most commonly develop following rapid weight fluctuation and pregnancy. The abdomen is a common region for stretch marks to develop. In addition to seeking improvement in abdominal contour, tightening the abdominal wall muscles, and removing skin and soft tissue redundancy, patients interested in tummy tuck surgery often wish to improve the appearance of stretch marks. So, does tummy tuck remove stretch marks?
Although tummy tuck does not remove all stretch marks on the abdomen, it generally removes those which are below the belly button. During tummy tuck surgery, an incision is made on the lower abdomen, which is most commonly hidden just below the underwear line. A small incision is also made around the belly button, which remains attached to the abdominal wall. The abdominal soft tissues are then elevated to the level of the ribcage, just superficial to the abdominal wall muscles. The skin may then be redraped, allowing the redundant tissue to be removed through a large ellipse. This generally extends to the level of the belly button. The stretch marks present within this region are therefore removed as the redundant tissue is resected.
Although stretch marks above the belly button may not removed, their position lowers as the redundant abdominal skin is removed. They may appear less prominent following tummy tuck surgery.
There are other options to reduce the appearance of residual stretch marks following tummy tuck surgery. Sun protection is important as stretch marks fade. UV exposure carries increased risk of hyper- or hypopigmentation of stretch marks. They may become permanently darker or lighter than your background skin color if exposed to UV rays. Laser and topical treatments, such as retinoids, may also be beneficial depending on the appearance and history of your stretch marks.
Please contact us if you are interested in discussing tummy tuck surgery in more detail. Following clinical examination, Dr. Power will be able to determine whether tummy tuck may help you achieve your aesthetic goals.