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What do plastic surgery scars look like?

What do plastic surgery scars look like?

All surgical procedures will result in some form of visible scarring. In the early months post operatively most scars may appear red, raised or irritated. Fortunately, most scars will improve in appearance, tightness and texture the 24 months following your surgery. However, they will never be invisible and the final scar may vary depending on a number of factors individual to your body. 

The following scars are shown when scarring is at its worst – between 6 weeks and 12 months after surgery. Scroll down to view the important factors that determine what your scars look like after surgery. Some of these factors can be controlled, while others cannot; it is important to consider this when undertaking surgery – as despite your best efforts and the best efforts of your surgeon, it is never possible to predict your scar’s final outcome. 

Breast augmentation

Breast augmentation scars run horizontally under the breast and are usually 2-4 cm in length. The first two images below show breast augmentation scars (with the patients’ arms raised – when arms are down, this usually sits in the crease of the breast). The first image shows mature scars (ie 2 years old) and the image on the right shows the scar at 6-12 weeks, when it is darker, and more prominent but still well positioned under the breast (final image).

scar breast augmentation
new breast augmentation scar
breast augmentation scar


A standard abdominoplasty scar runs from hip to hip. There is also a scar around the umbilicus where the belly button is moved and attached to its new position. Abdominoplasty scars are very long, and can be straight, irregular and everything in between. How other people’s abdominoplasty scars look does not indicate how yours will look, as discussed further on, there are many individual factors that determine how you scar. If you have stretched, thinned skin or stretch marks on your abdomen prior to surgery, it is likely that you will have more prominent scarring after surgery compared to someone who had thicker, stronger skin in the area preoperatively. If your abdominal skin is thinner it will be weaker and more prone to wound breakdown, separation and slow healing. Stretch marks either side of the scar may also appear wider and more pigmented. This is something to weigh up, if you are considering the benefits and drawbacks or abdominoplasty surgery. 

The best way to optimise abdominoplasty scarring is to follow post op instructions; reducing stretching or pulling on the scar, taping, massage and compression garment wear. Lymphatic massage and physiotherapy with experienced postoperative clinicians can also help.

The image on the left shows abdominoplasty scarring at its prominent, early stage, around the 3 month post op mark. The image on the right shows the same patient 2 years after surgery. This is why surgeons ask patients to please be patient and wait for the scar to fully mature before judging a scar’s ‘final’ result.

tummy tuck scarring
abdominoplasty scarring

Breast reduction or lift

Breast reduction or mastopexy scars run around the nipple, vertically down the lower pole of the breast and horizontally under the breast. When a breast augmentation and mastopexy is performed at the same time, due to the pressure and weight of the implant behind the incision lines, scaring can be wider, thicker and more visible after surgery than a breast lift alone. This usually improves with time, patience and good scar care.

Skin quality also impacts scar results on the breast, and so if your skin is thin or weakened from being stretched by previous weight gain and loss or breastfeeding – or just gravity and the ageing process – it will be more prone to incisional complications and unfavourable scarring. 

The images below show breast lift and augmentation scar development at different stages of maturity. Where the umbilicus is also shown in the image, the patient has had an abdominoplasty/tummy tuck as well, so their belly button scarring can also be seen in these images.

breast augmentation and mastopexy
scars from breast lift
scarring for breast implants
breast augmentation scarring lift
scars with mastopexy surgery
healed T junction scars

What impacts your scarring?

Many factors play a role in the healing process and how well a scar matures. These can include:

  • EGenetic predisposition (eg keloid) or ethnicity
  • ESkin tone/type and quality
  • EPhysical activity and movement after surgery
  • ELifestyle factors
  • EHealth related issues
  • EType of surgery
  • EType of sutures
  • EWhere the incision lines were placed and your own natural healing capacity
  • ESkin health, blood flow and lymphatic activity
  • EWhether you experience any infection or wound interruption

Research shows that our mindset, specifically a positive outlook and approach, has a measurable impact on healing. The scientifically proven association between the mind and body during the postoperative period is anecdotally supported by our own experience. Having participated in thousands of patients’ recoveries, we have seen the impact of a positive and calm state of mind vs an anxious or negative approach. The recovery process can involve a rollercoaster of emotions, and it can be difficult for some patients to maintain a positive outlook during the more challenging moments that come with a standard recovery.

That’s why we recommend having good post operative plans in place – including mental wellbeing support – and carefully weighing up the known risks and recovery involved with surgery if you have experienced anxiety, depression or mood disorders in the past.

Looking at other patients’ scars is not a good way of gauging how your own incisions will look when they fully ‘mature’. Your body will heal differently, and your skin type will be different, as will be your genetic predisposition to healing. Every patient heals differently, however the majority of patients have little to no issues with their scars improving over time, with some basic care principles and patience.

When do I tape or use silicone gel?

Surgical incisions on the face are generally not taped, but on the breasts and body you will usually have breathable tape dressings, which will stay on for a specific amount of time, depending on your procedure, healing rate and specific advice from your post op care team.

We begin the scar education process before surgery, providing writing instructions to help patients prepare for their postoperative healing process.

At your first post operative appointment, your post op care team will discuss your taping and scar massage routine with you. 

This may involve a regime of taping and / or massaging the area with a silicone gel that we will supply.

If you have any broken areas of skin, wound breakdown or scabs, contact the clinic promptly so we can provide tailored care. 

scar tape

Sometimes patients can develop a local reaction to silicone or tapes. Please exercise your discretion – if you develop a rash or irritation, cease use and contact us.


What post operative scar treatment options do we offer in our clinics?

Our team of clinicians are experienced in treating scars using a range of modalities, all of which are complimentary for Dr Sharp’s patients at the Sharp Clinics in Brisbane and Ipswich in the 12 months following their surgery.

While we offer these scar therapies and advice, they are optional. We find most scars heal very well on their own – and to patients’ satisfaction – without requiring more than daily silicone gel massage or tape.

Internal scars

Internal scars occur with every procedure – wherever tissue is cut, a scar forms to heal the area; usually the scars you see on the outside are just a tiny fraction of the scarring you have, as much of it is on the inside, where the surgery occurred.

Sometimes, internal scars will thicken or even tether. Tethered scars can be uncomfortable and also distort your surgical result. This is usually most pronounced in the 3-24 months following surgery, and is more likely to occur if you have had multiple surgeries in one area.

There are things you can do to prevent or treat scar tethering, including a massage routine. If your scars are painful or inhibiting movement, we can also refer you to scar care specialists who can provide targeted scar therapies. Talk to us if you would like a referral. This is especially so, if you have had multiple surgeries in the same area.