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Does Liposuction Leave Behind Scars?

Written by Timothy McGee, MD, Board Certified Plastic Surgeon on July 29, 2022 No Comments

liposuction scarring

Liposuction is the gold standard in fat removal, with the power to instantly get rid of isolated pockets of unwanted fat. In the hands of skilled provider, liposuction can be used to completely re-contour the body; giving patients life change results

While today’s liposuction techniques are far less invasive than previous versions, all forms of liposuction are surgical procedures and as such have the potential to leave behind scars. Simply put, there is no such thing as scar-free liposuction. Fortunately, many liposuction patients are left with tiny scars that are nearly invisible to the naked eye.

If you are considering liposuction, here’s everything you need know about the potential for scarring:

Liposuction Incisions and Scarring

Any procedure that requires incisions has the potential to leave behind scarring in some form. Fortunately, that does not mean the resulting scar is always visible to the naked eye. By choosing an experienced provider and following your aftercare instructions closely, any scarring stemming from your liposuction procedure will not be noticeable by others.

Factors That Determine Scar Visibility

The amount of scarring a patient might experience after liposuction depends upon several factors:

Incision Size

All liposuction procedures require making a small incision into which the cannula (the thin, vacuum-like device) is inserted. These incisions are generally very small and are sometimes made with a punch versus a scalpel. If you’ve chosen SmartLipo, the incision might be as small as 2 millimeters, similar to the tip of a crayon. The smaller the incision, the smaller the resulting scar.

Incision Location

A skilled surgeon will perform the procedure with minimal incisions, placed in unnoticeable areas. Depending on the area to be treated, your incisions may be located underneath the bikini line, in the navel, or on the backside of the waistline. In addition, a skillful technique minimizes cellular damage at the incision site.

Age & Genetics

Some people, based on their age or genetics, scar more easily than others. If you have a history of developing keloid scars, you’re at risk for more visible scarring after liposuction. Keloid scars result when the body over-produces collagen in response to injury. Keloid scars are raised scars which sometimes appear much darker than the surrounding skin.

While keloid scars are not common after liposuction, you should inform your doctor if you’ve had these types of scars in the past.

Improper Post-Surgical Care

After your liposuction surgery, you’ll be sent home with instructions on how to best care for your incision sites. In addition to these instructions can lead to infection and is a common cause of scarring. Here’s what to expect during liposuction recovery.

Discoloration

A combination of genetics and/or lack of incision care can also lead to discoloration. Sun exposure, for example, can lead to hyperpigmentation, when the scar is darker than the surrounding skin. Hypopigmentation, a scar that’s lighter than the surrounding skin, is typically the result of genetics.

What to Expect as Incisions Heal?

Immediately after your liposuction procedure, the incision sites will be most prominent. As these scars heal, they will first form scabs, which will then heal and transform into red or pink skin.

Within 6-12 months, these scars will fade, blending into the surrounding skin and becoming far less noticeable.

If visible scarring remains, your scars may be the size of a freckle and easily covered with a swimsuit or clothing.

How to Minimize Scarring

Scars result from the body’s natural healing process. After injury or surgery, the body responds by producing collagen and fibrous tissue which becomes intertwined to form scar tissue. However, there are some ways to help the body minimize the occurrence of scars including:

  • Follow your surgeon’s post-operative instructions
  • Wear your compression garments as directed
  • Use a medical-grade silicone scar gel
  • Attend all your follow-up appointments

For a more detailed overview of how to minimize scarring after surgery please read this blog post.

Scar Removal Treatments

In the rare case that visible scarring has occurred after your incisions have completely healed, there are treatments available to address post-surgical scarring.

  • Silicone Gel Sheets 

Silicone gel sheets are an at-home treatment option which minimize the appearance of scars in some cases. This relatively inexpensive and easy-to-use treatment is a good first option to try.

  • Chemical Peel

A chemical peel exfoliates the top layers of skin which can remove scar tissue. A dermatologist can offer a deeper, stronger peel than an esthetician can.

  • Microdermabrasion

Microdermabrasion is a method of manual exfoliation which can remove scar tissue and in addition, trigger collagen production for smoother skin.

  • Laser Treatments

Laser therapy uses heat to break up keloid scars and stimulate new skin cell growth. The method generally requires multiple sessions.

  • Cryotherapy

Cryotherapy targets keloid scars by freezing them with nitrogen gas. This quick and easy method kills off scar tissue, which will then scab over and heal, leaving behind a smaller scar.

  • Scar Revision Surgery

Scar revision surgery, or scar removal surgery, is an option in cases of more severe, visible scarring. The surgical procedure excises the scar, leaving behind a smaller one.


Timothy McGee, MD

Dr. McGee has been practicing plastic surgery for more than 18 years in all areas of the field, including cosmetic surgery and reconstructive breast and facial surgery. Dr. McGee is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He has numerous hospital affiliations in the Round Rock and greater Austin areas and is a member of the American Society of plastic Surgeons, American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, American College of Surgeons and Austin Smiles.


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