In a new series, we’re debunking persistent myths of weight loss surgery.
Is it true that weight-loss surgery will leave you with terrible scars? It’s a common misconception, but it’s not true. Today, minimally invasive surgery or laparoscopic surgery normally creates four or five small incisions ranging from 5 to 20 mm in length. For most people, the scars fade with time and become very faint to nearly invisible. In office visits for my own patients a year after surgery, I sometimes struggle to even find the scars. The photo here shows a patient who had a laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy a year prior. See any scars? Me neither.
Understanding Keloid Formation
As with every myth, there is always a kernel of truth or partial truth. In this case, it has to do with something called keloid formation. If you Google it, you will find that a percentage of individuals scar with a more pronounced raised, red form of scar tissue after any kind of cut or incision. Up to 10% of the population will have some degree of keloid formation, mostly in individuals with darker skin pigmentation. The cuts are still small, but if you are a keloid former, then it may be a half inch or quarter inch scar that is nonetheless slightly raised and somewhat redder and more visible. There are a lot of proposed treatments to prevent and treat keloids, but none of these is foolproof.
What we do know is that metabolic surgery has proven to be highly effective, safe, and minimally invasive with few side effects today. For 90% of people, the small scars fade to near invisibility over time. The days of open incisions are for the most part long gone. Minimally invasive metabolic surgery involves very small incisions and therefore very small scars. The recovery time is correspondingly fast, with most people returning to office work within two weeks, heavier physical duties within four weeks.
There are no corresponding scar tissue problems like keloids on the inside of the body or around the stomach since keloids are a dermal phenomenon. More broadly, there is a type of scar formation problem that can occur from internal scar tissue from the stomach, namely the formation of a stenosis or narrowed area that happens in around 1% of cases of sleeve gastrectomy, usually solved with endoscopy.
If you’re still concerned about the possibility of scarring, here’s a tip: Use plenty of sunscreen and avoid tanning or sunburn on the abdomen during the first six months after surgery. This will help the scars become invisible.
And to learn more about the benefits of weight-loss surgery and whether you might be a candidate, contact the Sasse Surgical team today.