Find out more about tummy tucks and stretch marks here, and discover whether a tummy tuck can improve the appearance of stretch marks.
What causes stretch marks?
Stretch marks look like lines or streaks across the skin. They may appear pink, red, purple, silver or brown, and they typically start darker before fading to a slightly lighter colour.
Stretch marks are often caused by sudden growth or weight gain, and can develop on the stomach area in particular for several reasons. Some of the most common causes of stretch marks include:
- Rapid weight gain or loss
- Sudden growth during puberty
Stretch marks are very common and they are completely harmless.
Are stretch marks preventable?
There are some risk factors that can increase the risk of developing stretch marks. For example, if you’re female, have a family history of stretch marks, or become pregnant.
Generally, rapid weight gain or loss and sudden growth leads to the development of stretch marks — meaning that sometimes they’re completely unavoidable.
The best way to reduce the risk of stretch marks is to maintain a healthy weight so that your skin doesn’t become too stretched. However, in some cases (such as puberty or pregnancy), maintaining a particular weight or avoiding sudden weight changes just isn’t possible.
Can stretch marks go away on their own?
Stretch marks can become less visible over time, but they may not disappear completely. It’s not very often that stretch marks will go away on their own, so you might want treatment to get rid of them.
There are some treatments that may help stretch marks to improve in appearance, such as
retinoid creams and hyaluronic acid.
However, there is little evidence that using these types of treatments will make the stretch marks disappear completely. Instead, they may just lessen their appearance over time, with continued use. You should not use retinoid creams if you're pregnant as they may harm your baby.
Can a tummy tuck get rid of stretch marks?
While tummy tucks are typically used to remove excess fat and skin, they can also be an effective way to get rid of stretch marks.
Tummy tuck surgery involves a curved incision being made across the lower abdomen — from one hip to the other, just above the pubic area. Any excess skin and fat between the pubic area and the belly button will then be removed.
Stretch marks can also be taken away during the procedure if they are located on the skin that is being removed. However, a tummy tuck cannot address stretch marks outside of this specific area. If stretch marks are only partially located within the area being treated, they will not be removed entirely.
Once the excess skin and fat are taken away, the abdominal muscles will be realigned and tightened again, and the skin of the abdominal wall will be stitched at the level of the pubic line.
A tummy tuck will be carried out under general anaesthetic (so you’ll be asleep during the procedure), and you will have to stay in the hospital for between one and three days. The surgery itself can take between two and five hours to be completed.
The benefits of a tummy tuck
The benefits of a tummy tuck can include:
- A flatter stomach
- A shortened gap between the abdominal muscles that were increased during pregnancy
- The removal of scars and stretch marks
- Improved posture
- Increased self-esteem
There are also some possible medical benefits of a tummy tuck, such as:
- Correcting a ventral hernia
- Decreased stress urinary incontinence
- Alleviating back pain
Do tummy tucks leave scars?
Although a tummy tuck can help with stretch marks, some people develop thick scars or extra skin around the site of the surgery.
These scars can be red and raised for the first six weeks, but they may fade slightly over time.
However, for the majority of people, the scarring can be outweighed by the positive results of the tummy tuck.
It can be difficult to predict how your skin will heal after surgery. If you have a history of keloid scars or scars that do not fade over time, speak to your consultant first.
How to treat stretch marks
Stretch marks aren’t easy to get rid of without a procedure like a tummy tuck — however, there are treatments that can lessen their appearance over time. These can include:
- Light or laser treatments
- Retinoid creams
- Chemical peels — these may make stretch marks look smaller, but more research is needed to confirm this
There are some supposed natural remedies that are said to help with stretch marks, such as coconut oil, but the evidence to support their benefits for stretch marks is limited.
While these remedies may help to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, they won’t get rid of them completely. For many people, treatment via a tummy tuck could be a good option.
Stretch marks can have a big impact on your self-esteem, and if you’ve been trying natural remedies or retinoid creams without success, it can feel like they’re there for good. However, a tummy tuck can provide great results, removing stretch marks as part of your surgery.
If you would like to find out more about tummy tuck surgery at The McIndoe Centre and discuss whether a tummy tuck is right for you, get in touch with us today.
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