After Weight Loss Surgery

How Big Will My Scars Be After Bariatric Surgery?

Woman looking at herself in the mirror holding side of stomach

SAMPA’s Four Key Points

  1. Scarring is a fact of any surgical procedure.
  2. Laparoscopic surgery has dramatically reduced the visibility of surgical scarring.
  3. Do not use scar ointments or treatment without prior approval from your doctor.
  4. Abdominal scars may be as small as 5mm, typically disappearing entirely in time.

While a plethora of benefits are associated with bariatric surgery, one of the most common concerns our patients worry about is scarring. How big will the incisions be? Will there be scars? Is it going to be evident I had a surgical procedure on my abdomen? This article will give you the information you need to make an informed decision.

Modern laparoscopy has allowed us to minimize the size of the incisions and, thus, address patients’ aesthetic concerns. However, the visibility of abdominal scars will depend on a patient’s skin and whether a patient has a history of keloids or hypertrophic scarring.

Considerations of Scarring

Scarring is a natural part of the healing process after the skin is punctured, whether from a surgical procedure or even a simple paper cut. As such, scarring is inevitable after your bariatric procedure. That said, advances in laparoscopic and robotic surgery have minimized scarring to the point where most patients, within a year or so, may have difficulty finding the scars from their procedure. Of course, the visibility of the wounds largely depends on the patient’s healing process. Some patients naturally have minimal scarring, while others may have more significant scarring—luck of the draw.

Minimizing scarring also plays an important additional role. The laparoscopic and robotic approaches mean less chance of an incisional hernia, which occurs due to puncturing the skin and abdominal musculature and fascia during surgery, and a lower risk of infection. Ultimately, the minimally invasive approach makes sense for a multitude of reasons.

So, What Will My Scars Look Like?

Your scars will be “angry looking” for a week or so after surgery, though they should improve daily. After this point, and as they close and start to normalize, you will eventually see a flat but still discolored area of healed skin. At that point, you must let your body take over. Eventually, scars will change and blend into your standard skin color or something close. Depending on your age, your scars may be visible for the rest of your life, though they will become less and less prominent with time. We strongly suggest always wearing or reapplying sunscreen on your scars any time there will be sun exposure to the incision sites.

Should I Use Scar Creams?

Scar creams are not advisable in the few weeks after surgery as they can do more harm than good. Instead, speak to your bariatric surgeon during follow-up appointments to learn whether scar cream or ointment is a good idea in time. In the long term, once your wounds have healed, there is less concern surrounding interventions for scars.

Longer-Term Scar Treatment

Most patients find after several months, their scars aren’t obvious at all. However, some patients are interested in further treatment. We can then refer them to a dermatologist, plastic surgeon, or aesthetic specialist who can recommend laser-based or surgical options to eliminate the scars.

Remember, however, reducing the appearance of scars also largely depends on your lifestyle changes. Eating well, staying hydrated, quitting smoking, and reducing alcohol consumption can all help the skin stay plump and vibrant as it heals. Taking care of your general health is crucial to good-looking skin and recovery, both internally and skin-deep.

The Bottom Line

Scarring is a part of any operation and virtually anything involving breaking the skin. Fortunately, minimally invasive techniques have reduced the visibility of scars dramatically, and most patients do not find the need to address them in a significant way after surgery. Several aesthetic options exist for patients who want to treat their keloid scars; for example, dermatologists, plastic surgeons, or aesthetic specialists can all help, as can many bariatric-specific specialty products. Of course, we encourage you to discuss this or any postoperative concerns with our postop team.

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Mobile, AL 36607

Springhill Medical Center

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Mobile, AL 36608