Excess skin and stretch marks may be a reminder of pregnancy, or they could appear after dramatic weight changes. These superficial lines are permanent scars though they generally fade to a white or silver color with time. A tummy tuck will often eliminate stretch marks that occur below the belly button, and it will lower most other marks on the abdomen.
Stretch marks most commonly occur between the navel and the pubic area, which is the focus of skin removal during a tummy tuck. Patients with this isolated stretch pattern usually enjoy complete resolution after surgery.
Typically, the skin above the belly button is not removed during abdominoplasty. Instead, the procedure involves stretching this skin down to replace the skin removed in the lower abdomen. The results vary for each patient, but this tension on the upper skin often causes the remaining stretch marks to flatten and become noticeable in a lower position.
Stretch marks on the flanks, the back, and the thighs are unaffected unless an extended tummy tuck, a circumferential abdominoplasty, or thigh lifting procedures are considered. Because stretch marks are permanent scars, they must be surgically removed.
The results of a tummy tuck are very durable unless a patient has further massive weight changes or becomes pregnant again. These shifts may add additional lines to the abdominal area, and they could negate the surgical improvements. Surgeons generally advise patients to wait to have abdominoplasty until they are sure that their weight is stable, and they are finished having children.