Will I Have Scars After Bariatric Surgery?

Anyone who is contemplating bariatric surgery has questions about scarring. They ask,” What does the scar look like after bypass bariatric surgery” or “Will my bariatric surgery scars be very noticeable?” The answer to these questions will vary depending on specific circumstances but will depend on factors such as:

  • The surgical technique used such as laparoscopic vs open surgery;
  • Patient genetics, skin type, ethnicity, skin pigmentation, age, etc;
  • Skill level of the surgeon;
  • Level of post-surgical aftercare and how well the patient follows the provided wound care instructions. Infection can result in more noticeable scarring.

What Causes Bariatric Surgery Scars?

Unfortunately, scarring is inevitable when an incision is made in the skin. Scars are a result of our body’s natural healing process and when we are cut or injured it begins forming new collagen to repair the injury. This repaired skin has a different color and texture than the older skin that surrounds it. A scar that results from bariatric surgery is influenced by how intrusive the surgery is, the patient’s age, genetics, and how well they care for their incisions as they heal. Younger patients sometimes have scars that heal raised and irregularly called keloids because they have a higher production rate of collagen.

Illustration: Bariatric Surgery Incisions

What Do Bariatric Scars Look Like?

Laparoscopic Bariatric Surgery Scars

The scars that result from bariatric surgery are mainly dependent on the type of bariatric weight loss surgery the patient has and the technique used to perform the surgery. Bariatric surgery scars that result from laparoscopic surgery normally fade to almost invisible after a few years.

Multiport laparoscopic scars
The laparoscopic multi-port surgical technique was developed in the 1990s and is still one of the most common and less-invasive techniques used today. Most laparoscopic weight loss surgeries leave the same type of scars and scar patterns. The 4 to 5 incisions that are created in the abdomen are used as entryways for the surgeon’s tools to gain access to the targeted area of surgery. No matter what type of bariatric procedure the surgeon is performing, the target location is the same. The stomach and digestive tract.
Single-Incision laparoscopic scars
Another technique of laparoscopic surgery only uses one incision located within the belly button which results in a scar that is totally hidden. Single-incision laparoscopic surgery is becoming more popular but it has not been widely used in the past due to the challenges it poses. Not all patients will qualify for this technique and many surgeons do not offer it because they lack the experience and proper tools to perform it. Another technical challenge is accommodating the surgical instruments needed to perform the procedure. Working through only one small incision creates a crowded working space, and makes obtaining adequate working angles difficult.
Open Bariatric Surgery Scars
Open bariatric surgery, which is rarely performed, requires a longer incision (usually between 8-10”) that is more at risk for infection and will leave very large visible scars.

Gastric Sleeve Scars

Gastric sleeve surgery scars can range anywhere from virtually invisible, to 4 or 5 small light scars on the abdomen, or a long scar running from under the breast bone to the naval depending on the technique used during surgery.

  • Single-incision laparoscopic gastric sleeve scars will be virtually invisible and hidden in the natural folds of the belly button;
  • Multi-port laparoscopic gastric sleeve scars will present as 4 to 5 small (between 1/4” and 1”) lines located under the breast bone and above the belly button;
  • An open gastric sleeve scar will be a large vertical line running down the center of the abdomen and will be significant.

Gastric Bypass Scars or SASI Scars

  • Multi-port laparoscopic gastric bypass scars will be between 1/4” and 1” long and most patients will have 5 incisions made in their abdomen during gastric bypass surgery. The incisions will be above the belly button and below the sternum;
  • Open gastric bypass scars can be between 8” and 10” long and normally run vertically between the sternum and the navel.

Gastric Lap Band Surgery Scars

  • Usually, there will be 5 small scars that result from the installation of a gastric lap band each between 1/4” and 1/2” long. The incisions will be created above the belly button in the mid-abdominal region.

Gone Wrong: Gastric Sleeve Scars

Gastric sleeve surgery, while a transformative option for weight loss, can sometimes lead to unintended complications related to scarring. Scars gone wrong can occur due to various factors, including inadequate wound care, individual healing responses, or surgical technique. These scars, if improperly managed, may become hypertrophic or keloid, potentially causing discomfort and aesthetic concerns.

Hypertrophic And Keloid Formation

Hypertrophic scars and keloids are types of scars that form when our skin tries to heal itself after an injury. Here’s what happens: When you get a cut, burn, or even a piercing, your body sends out special cells to repair the damaged area. Usually, this repair process results in a flat scar that gradually fades over time. But with these scars, something different occurs. The healing process goes into overdrive, and the scar becomes raised and thick. Keloid scars are often even larger than the original injury. While they’re not typically harmful, they can be a bit of a cosmetic concern for some people.

How Can You Prevent Gastric Sleeve Surgery Scars Gone Wrong?

The best way to prevent scarring is to avoid surgery! Did you know that there is a procedure that can effectively make the storage size of your stomach smaller, just like gastric sleeve surgery, but without removing any portion of your stomach?

Suture Sculpt Endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty (ESG) presents an alternative approach that eliminates the surgical component of traditional gastric sleeve surgery but offers a substantial reduction in excess weight, comparable to that achieved through traditional gastric sleeve surgery.

In essence, Suture Sculpt ESG offers a no-incision option for individuals seeking significant weight loss without the concern of experiencing surgical scars gone wrong.

Strategies for Minimizing Bariatric Surgery Scars

With some special care, gastric bypass surgery scars and other bariatric surgery scars can be significantly minimized.

  • Carefully follow the aftercare instructions provided by your surgeon;
  • Keep your incisions clean and dry;
  • Apply only sterile dressings to your incisions and make sure your hands are clean to avoid introducing unwanted bacteria;
  • Be gentle when washing and drying the areas with incisions avoid rubbing them but pat them dry;
  • Do not pick at the incision scabs;
  • Eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, and drinking enough water will help promote healing;
  • Avoid exposing your incisions to the sun;
  • After a few weeks begin using a topical treatment to minimize scarring such as Vitamin E, Aquaphor, Mederma, etc.

Surgery For Weight Loss With No Bariatric Scars

If you desire to lose weight but do not want to undergo surgery or be left with scars from bariatric surgery, Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Center. We offer much less invasive options that leave no visible scars including Suture Sculpt endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty and Orbera gastric balloon.

Suture Sculpt endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty delivers comparable results to a surgical gastric sleeve procedure but without the scars from gastric sleeve surgery. The entire procedure is performed endoscopically and requires no incisions. This minimally-invasive outpatient procedure has produced significant weight loss results for many patients.

Orbera gastric balloon is a temporary weight loss device that is strategically placed in the patient’s stomach for 6 months. The balloon takes up space in the patient’s stomach causing them to eat less and stay full longer. When used in conjunction with a low-calorie healthy diet and increased physical activity promotes weight loss.

Contact Batash Endoscopic Weight Loss Clinic to learn more about losing weight without incisions or any resulting bariatric surgery scars.

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