“Dog ears” are a relatively common occurrence in patients who have recently underwent abdominoplasty surgery, and can be otherwise described as a bunching of excess skin at each end of the surgical scar. An experienced surgeon can minimize the likelihood of this happening, although in some cases it may be unavoidable. The good news is that dog ears can easily be corrected.
What are tummy tuck dog ears?
Tummy tuck dog ears are often described as an excess “pucker” of skin and fatty tissue at the ends of the incision line. These triangular-shaped bits of excess skin resemble dog ears, hence the name, and can occur on both sides or only one. Dog ear deformities are most common after tummy tuck surgery, but breast reduction and breast lift patients are at risk as well.
Although a surgeon will do their best to avoid this common complication, sometimes dog ears are simply unavoidable. In general, they occur because the incision was too short, causing a bulge to occur. This can be due to poor surgical planning, or because the patient requested a shorter incision. Since dog ears are mainly composed of fatty tissue, overweight patients are also more at risk than those with a lower BMI.
In most cases the excess tissue goes away once the swelling has subsided — generally within the first 3-6 months after surgery. If the swelling has gone down and your dog ears are still there, revision surgery will be required to have them removed.
How can tummy tuck dog ears be removed?
Dog ears can easily be addressed through a minor procedure under local anesthesia. This is done after most of the initial swelling has gone down, which is typically after three months, and does not significantly impact the tummy tuck surgery patient’s original recovery time.
The procedure is very straightforward, and is typically done in about 30 minutes. It involves the removal of excess skin and a slight lengthening of the original incision. Surgeons will generally use internal sutures instead of external ones, and in most cases drains are not required.
If the dog ears are larger in size and cause significant bulging, liposuction may also be performed. This helps flatten them out and achieve the best possible outcome. In other cases, liposuction may also be the only procedure required. This is particularly true if the dog ears are caused by excess fatty tissue instead of excess skin.
In addition to excision and liposuction, some plastic surgeons recommend a newer technique to correct dog ears: CoolSculpting, an FDA-approved body contouring procedure. CoolSculpting is done by freezing the fat through a technology known as cyolipolysis. It’s completely non-invasive, which means that it doesn’t involve any needles, anesthesia or downtime.
What to expect during recovery
In most cases you can expect the downtime after dog ear correction surgery to last no more than a few days. This is true whether the procedure involves liposuction or not.
You should be able to resume your regular activities after just a week, with the exception being exercise. While many surgeons will recommend that you abstain from strenuous physical activity for six weeks, your surgeon may approve light cardio after as little as 2-3 weeks.
Since the muscle isn’t resewn, pain should be minimal. In the event that you do experience any pain, over-the-counter medication such as Advil or Tylenol is typically all that is needed to keep it under control.
In the vast majority of cases, patients are extremely satisfied with their tummy tuck recovery and results. To find out more about this transformative procedure, contact our cosmetic surgeons in Paramus today!