The short answer is that most of the time, you will be able to wear a bikini within 6 months or so of your tummy tuck, but there are a few things to consider:
- The main scar for a tummy tuck (and the only scar for a mini tummy tuck) is made in a similar place to a C-section scar. Since there is tension on the skin when the incision is closed, this scar occasionally migrates upward. That means that very low, skimpy swimwear may still show the incision even if you bring your swimwear in and the surgeon places the incision exactly where you want it.
- That said, if you are very clear with your surgeon about where you want your incision to be, most swimwear will easily hide this lower incision. Beware of the surgeon who doesn’t ask how low your underwear/swimsuits are and doesn’t show you where they plan to place the incision. I’ve seen a few frustrated patients from other surgeons whose incisions aren’t even covered by normal jeans.
- Full tummy tucks also have a scar around the belly button, which stays where it is when the skin is lifted up to the ribcage. Usually, once the skin is stretched down, the hole from around the belly button is removed completely, but there will always be a scar around the belly button since a new hole is made for it to come through. Look at photos to make sure your surgeon does a good job making the belly button look natural. Even when your lower scar is hidden, the belly button can be a dead giveaway of a tummy tuck in a bikini.
- If your surgeon can’t remove all the skin between your belly button and the incision, there will be a scar between your belly button and the lower scar. As you can imagine, it becomes harder to remove all the skin between the belly button and your lower scar the lower you want the scar to be placed.
- Also, some women have a lot of stretch marks and loose skin around the belly button, and no matter how tight the skin is pulled, there is looseness in the middle that can only be addressed with an up and down scar between the belly button and the lower incision to remove the extra skin in a side to side direction. Usually these scars still heal well, and I have had patients who need this and are still comfortable wearing bikinis, but some people will not be comfortable with any visible scar. Ask your surgeon if he or she thinks this might be a possibility so you are prepared ahead of time.
- Some scars heal poorly (wide, raised, red, uneven). Although this can be due to poor surgical technique, it can also be due to individual ability to heal scars. Scar creams, laser, scar revision, and steroid injections can help, but some people just do not heal well. In these cases, even when the lower incision can be covered by a bikini bottom, the belly button incision is still obvious.