Cosmetic Surgery Tips

What Are Dog Ears After Tummy Tuck

“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.

tummy-tuck dog ears

What Are Dog Ears After Tummy Tuck

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 Causes Dog Ears After Tummy Tuck

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.

Factors that Contribute to Dog Ears

Several factors can contribute to the development of dog ears after a tummy tuck. These factors include:

  1. Skin laxity: Individuals with poor skin elasticity are more prone to developing dog ears as the excess skin is less likely to shrink and conform to the new contour created during the tummy tuck.
  2. Amount of excess tissue: The amount of excess skin and fat present prior to the tummy tuck can impact the likelihood of dog ear formation. Patients with a significant amount of excess tissue may have a higher risk of developing dog ears.
  3. Surgical technique: The surgical technique employed during the tummy tuck plays a crucial role in minimizing the risk of dog ear formation. Experienced surgeons utilize various techniques to minimize tension on the incision line and reduce the chances of dog ears.
  4. Body contour: The overall body contour and shape of an individual can influence the appearance of dog ears. Certain body types may be more prone to dog ear formation due to the distribution of excess tissue.

Addressing Dog Ears after Tummy Tuck

Fortunately, there are several options available to address dog ears and achieve a smoother, more aesthetically pleasing result. These options include:

1. Revision Surgery

In some cases, a minor revision surgery may be required to correct dog ears. During this procedure, the surgeon will remove the excess skin and fat that is causing the dog ear appearance. The incision line will be carefully repositioned to create a more seamless transition and achieve the desired contour.

2. Liposuction

In instances where the dog ears primarily consist of excess fat, liposuction may be a suitable solution. Liposuction involves the removal of excess fat through small incisions, resulting in a more balanced and harmonious body contour.

3. Non-Surgical Options

For individuals who prefer non-surgical interventions, there are non-invasive treatments available that can help reduce the appearance of dog ears. These treatments typically involve the use of radiofrequency or laser technology to stimulate collagen production and tighten the skin.

tummy tuck exercise

Why Do You Get Dog Ears with Tummy Tuck?

Understanding the underlying reasons for the development of dog ears is crucial in preventing and managing them effectively. Here are some key factors that contribute to their formation:

  1. Insufficient Tissue Removal: Dog ears can occur when the surgeon removes an inadequate amount of skin and fat during the tummy tuck procedure. This may leave excess tissue at the ends of the incision, resulting in dog ears.
  2. Inadequate Tissue Redistribution: During a tummy tuck, the remaining skin and fat are redistributed and tightened. If this redistribution is not performed meticulously, it can lead to the formation of dog ears.
  3. Body Composition: Individual variations in body composition, such as the amount of subcutaneous fat and skin laxity, can influence the likelihood of developing dog ears. Patients with significant excess skin and subcutaneous fat are more prone to this issue.
  4. Improper Surgical Technique: Surgeons with limited experience or expertise in performing tummy tucks may inadvertently contribute to the development of dog ears due to errors in technique or inadequate attention to detail.

To minimize the risk of dog ears, it is crucial to choose a skilled and experienced plastic surgeon who understands the complexities of the procedure.

What Do Dog Ears Look Like After a Tummy Tuck?

After undergoing a tummy tuck, you might wonder how dog ears would appear if they do develop. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Appearance: Dog ears typically manifest as small protrusions of skin and fat at the ends of the incision line. They may resemble small mounds or flaps, reminiscent of a dog’s ear, hence the name.
  • Location: Dog ears are most commonly observed at the lateral ends of the tummy tuck incision, near the hips. However, they can also occur at the midline or any other area where the incision terminates.
  • Size: The size of dog ears can vary from person to person and is influenced by factors such as the amount of excess tissue, body composition, and surgical technique. Some individuals may have larger or more prominent dog ears than others.

It’s important to note that the appearance of dog ears after a tummy tuck can vary. Consulting with your plastic surgeon will provide you with a more accurate assessment based on your specific case.

How Do You Prevent Dog Ears After Tummy Tuck?

Preventing dog ears requires a combination of careful surgical technique and appropriate post-operative care. Here are some strategies to help minimize the likelihood of developing dog ears:

  1. Skilled Surgeon Selection: Choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in performing tummy tuck surgeries. Research their credentials, view before-and-after photos, and read patient reviews to ensure you select a qualified professional.
  2. Pre-operative Assessment: During your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your body composition and discuss your aesthetic goals. They will create a customized surgical plan to address your specific needs, minimizing the risk of dog ears.
  3. Surgical Technique: Your surgeon should employ meticulous surgical techniques, including proper tissue removal and redistribution. They should pay close attention to detail to achieve a smooth and natural-looking abdominal contour.
  4. Post-operative Care: Follow your surgeon’s instructions for post-operative care diligently. This includes wearing compression garments as recommended, avoiding strenuous activities, and attending all scheduled follow-up appointments. Adhering to these guidelines promotes proper healing and reduces the likelihood of complications such as dog ears.
  5. Maintain a Stable Weight: Fluctuations in weight can impact the appearance of your abdomen. It is advisable to achieve your target weight before undergoing a tummy tuck and maintain it afterward to preserve the results and reduce the risk of dog ears.
  6. Open Communication: Maintain open and honest communication with your plastic surgeon throughout the entire process. Voice your concerns, ask questions, and seek clarification on any aspect of the procedure. This ensures that you have a clear understanding of what to expect and allows your surgeon to address any potential issues proactively.

By following these preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the chances of developing dog ears and enjoy optimal results from your tummy tuck surgery.

Will Dog Ears Go Away After Tummy Tuck?

The good news is that dog ears are not permanent and can be addressed by your plastic surgeon. During the tummy tuck procedure, your surgeon will carefully trim and reposition the excess skin and fat, aiming to create a smooth and natural-looking contour. While it’s possible to minimize the appearance of dog ears during surgery, complete elimination cannot always be guaranteed.

How Can Dog Ears Be Corrected?

To correct dog ears, your plastic surgeon may employ several techniques, depending on the specific case. These techniques include:

  1. Revision Surgery: In some cases, revision surgery may be necessary to remove or reduce the prominence of dog ears. Your surgeon will assess the extent of correction required and recommend the most suitable approach to achieve the desired results.
  2. Liposuction: In instances where the dog ears primarily consist of excess fat, liposuction may be employed to remove the unwanted fatty tissue. This can help improve the contour and reduce the protrusion.
  3. Scar Revision: If the dog ears are primarily caused by excessive scarring, scar revision techniques can be utilized to refine the scar and minimize the appearance of dog ears.

How Much Does It Cost To Remove Dog Ears After Tummy Tuck

Tummy tuck dog ears can be caused by excessive fat and skin laxity on the lateral aspects of the abdomen. The cost is generally 1-3 thousand dollars to correct these areas with liposuction or surgical excision.

FAQs about Dog Ears after Tummy Tuck

Q1: How long does it take for dog ears to form after a tummy tuck?

Dog ears can become noticeable in the weeks following a tummy tuck procedure. The initial swelling and bruising need to subside for the dog ears to become more apparent.

Q2: Are dog ears permanent?

No, dog ears are not permanent. With proper care and treatment, dog ears can be corrected to achieve a more refined result.

Q3: Can exercise help reduce the appearance of dog ears?

While exercise can help improve overall body contour and tone, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on reducing the appearance of dog ears. Surgical intervention or non-invasive treatments are more effective options.

Q4: Are dog ears a sign of a botched tummy tuck?

No, the presence of dog ears does not necessarily indicate a botched tummy tuck. Dog ears can occur even with skilled surgeons and can be addressed through revision procedures or other corrective measures.

Q5: How long does it take to recover from dog ear revision surgery?

The recovery period for dog ear revision surgery can vary depending on the extent of the procedure. In general, it may take several weeks to a few months for the incisions to heal completely and for the final results to be visible.

Q6: Can dog ears be prevented?

While it is not always possible to prevent dog ears entirely, certain measures can be taken to minimize the risk. This includes choosing an experienced and skilled plastic surgeon, following post-operative instructions diligently, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.


Dog ears after a tummy tuck can be an aesthetic concern for some individuals. However, it’s essential to remember that dog ears are a common occurrence and can be effectively addressed through various surgical and non-surgical options. By choosing a reputable plastic surgeon and following their guidance, you can achieve a smoother, more natural-looking result. If you experience dog ears after a tummy tuck, consult with your surgeon to explore the most appropriate solution for your unique situation.

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