Gastric Bypass Scars: Cosmetic and Endoscopic Procedures

gastric bypass scars

When we hear the word “surgery”, we often imagine big, long scars and if you are contemplating weight loss surgery, you may have some questions about scarring. Often people ask, “Will gastric bypass surgery leave terrible scars?”, ”What kind of scars will gastric bypass leave?”, “Is there any way to prevent scarring after gastric bypass surgery?”. First, let’s talk a bit about how scars form to better understand what may occur after surgery.

How Do Scars Form?

A scar forms as a natural part of our body’s healing process. When our dermis is injured, our bodies begin forming new collagen fibers to fix the damage. These new fibers will have a different texture and often color than the rest of the skin surrounding it.

Scars can also form differently, due to location or the patient’s age. Scars can be flat and a bit red, fading to pale as they completely heal, stretched, pitted, and some other scars can be raised. Younger people, whose collagen production is high, often develop these raised scars called keloids due to an overproduction of collagen.

Genetics, aftercare, and the severity of a surgery determine to what extent a scar from an incision will be visible and how quickly it will fade.

Open Surgery vs. Laparoscopic Surgery

Laparoscopic bariatric surgeries, with their shorter recovery times and reduced risk of scarring, have advanced greatly in the field of bariatric surgery. Furthermore, many such surgeries are now being performed as opposed toopen surgeries.

What is Open Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Using traditional surgical methods, the surgeon makes a large incision in the abdomen, extending from mid-chest down to the belly button. Through this opening, the surgeon accesses the stomach and intestines to complete the gastric bypass surgery. Specifically, the incision measures up to 10 inches. Consequently, the stomach is altered and bypassed.

What is Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass Surgery?

Laparoscopic bypass surgery is less invasive and while there are incisions, they are much smaller. The surgeon creates about 5 small incisions, strategically placed, to best gain access to the targeted areas and uses these entry points to insert the medical tools necessary to complete the surgery. The laparoscope has a small camera attached so the surgery can be viewed while it is performed using a computer monitor. The surgeon makes the stomach smaller and re-routes a part of the small intestine bypassing part of the digestive system.

What Kind of Gastric Bypass Scar Will I Have?

The type of scarring that results from gastric bypass surgery will depend on several factors:


The preferred method for performing gastric bypass surgery, but certain circumstances may necessitate an “open” surgical procedure. The gastric bypass scars associated with each technique are different.

Patient Skin Type

Depending on ethnicity and natural pigmentation, scars will develop and look differently on everyone. Scars typically appear more prominent on individuals with darker types of skin.

The Skill of the Surgeon

Although this is a rarity, sometimes surgery performed by a less skilled surgeon will result in an increased amount of scarring.

The Post-Surgical Aftercare Routine

Patients are always discharged with aftercare instructions that include how to care for their healing incisions. Following these instructions can help avoid an infection that can make scarring worse. If an infection did occur, it may be necessary to perform an “open” procedure to remedy the situation which would result in a higher degree of scarring.

How Big is the Scar from Gastric Bypass?

Depending on the procedure, gastric bypass scars can be of different sizes: laparoscopically performed procedures typically produce smaller scars, while open surgery creates larger incisions. If medically necessary, an open procedure can replace a laparoscopic one. The determining factor between these two types of surgery would be the safety of the patient. Some patients may require open surgery in certain circumstances:

  • Patients with a very high BMI. Excess abdominal fat can prevent access and obscure vision of the surgical field.

  • Patients who have existing scar tissue from previous abdominal surgeries which may prevent access or the medical team’s field of vision during surgery.

  • Patients with certain health conditions may not be able to have laparoscopic surgery.

  • If an emergency or unforeseen circumstance arose during surgery, the surgeons had to convert the laparoscopic surgery to an open surgery for the patients.

Scars from Laparoscopic Gastric Bypass

Laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery usually creates five 1/2-1” long incisions on the abdomen. Surgeons usually insert a laparoscope equipped with a tiny camera through one incision at the belly button and make four other incisions for instruments. Typically it leaves behind minuscule scars that can fade to near invisibility within two years in 90% of patients.

Scars from Open Gastric Bypass

Ranging from 810 in length, the scar from open gastric bypass surgery runs upward from the naval to the sternum. Moreover, due to the larger incision, the infection risk is greater and the resulting scar is prominent.

Things You Can Do to Minimize Gastric Bypass Scars

  • Topical treatments can help lessen the appearance of scars. Solutions and creams like Cocoa buttercream, vitamin E, silicone gel, and other over-the-counter products like Vaseline and Aquaphor can often help heal scars.

  • Sometimes doctors use surgery to change a scar’s appearance and make it less noticeable.

  • Scars can be reduced in appearance with cosmetic procedures and treatments:

Weight Loss Surgery with No Scars

There are different options and techniques used to perform weight loss surgery. Gastric bypass is one of them but there is a much less invasive option that leaves NO VISIBLE SCARS. We call this procedure Endoscopic Sleeve Gastroplasty ESG and it yields results similar to gastric sleeve surgery. There is no hospital stay and a very short recovery time when compared to gastric bypass surgery. Ask during your consultation with IBI Healthcare Institute if ESG may be right for you!

Furthermore, if you are considering bariatric surgery for weight loss, set up a consultation today with IBI Healthcare Institute. During your consultation, we can discuss all of your options for weight loss surgery, including the non-invasive.

Nonetheless, at IBI Healthcare Institute, we commit to helping you become healthy and will support you through every stage. Therefore, we urge you to ask questions and gain knowledge about all the weight loss options that you have.

Picture of Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr. A. Christopher Ibikunle MD FACS
Dr A. Christopher Ibikunle (MD, FACS) is a distinguished surgeon with a rich academic and clinical background. After completing his residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, he served as an Active Staff and Assistant Professor of Surgery. Currently, he is a Professor of Surgery at Augusta University/University of Georgia Medical Partnership and a Lead Preceptor for several institutions, including Morehouse University and Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. Dr. Chris is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and a member of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, committed to advancing surgery and patient care.
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