The term ‘dog ears’ refers to the skin or tissue protruding from the ends of a closed incision and is a potential side effect of skin-tightening procedures such as a tummy tuck. In surgery, dog ears are a common and sometimes unavoidable result following wound closure. In fact, I would guess that as many as twenty percent of all individuals who receive skin lifts end up with this potential side effect on one or both ends of their scar.
Dog ears can occur when skin beyond the end of the scar is looser than skin along the scar itself, often creating a small mound of excess skin where the incision ends. Dog ears come from an uneven pull on the incision AND the folded/flap around the end of the incision presents itself. This is usually due to gravity but can also occur naturally on its own as our skin heals at uneven rates. When tension on the top and bottom incisions are unequal, the skin moves to adjust and accommodate the uneven pulling; this is how some clients start with perfect curved lines that wind up healing uneven and jagged.
Dog ears can present themselves on any incision but are most common at the end of tummy tuck scars and at the end of breast incisional scars. Since dog ears are mainly composed of fatty tissue, overweight patients are also more at risk than those with a lower BMI.
Unfortunately there is no way to tell ahead of time whether or not they will develop dog ears after their surgery. From a clients standpoint, there isn’t much you can do to avoid dog ears; either they happen or they don’t. Wait 3-6 months for your incision to heal before trying to “do something” it because:
1️⃣ you may not get them at all
2️⃣ if you do start seeing them grow, theres nothing YOU can do about it
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. Once the site has fully healed, dog ears are super easy and minimal to no pain in removing. It is usually a 30 min in-office procedure where the area is numbed and the extra skin folds are excised off. A smoother incision is created and rebandaged.
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.
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING DOG EAR REMOVAL 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.
FAUX DOG EARS
There are a few cases where there are faux dog ears where fluid settles within skin folds causing the area to present like dog ears but once massaged out the area flattens. True dog ears wont flatten after several great massage sessions. Allow time, have patience, and go through the process of healing before freaking out as it may be faux dog ears & fluid instead of the actual handicapped skin hang.