What is a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that tightens and removes excess skin from the front of the abdomen. When the sit-up muscles have separated after pregnancy, a tummy tuck will repair that separation – giving the abdomen a tighter and more toned feel. Stretchmarks in the lower abdomen can also be removed during a tummy tuck.
A full tummy tuck generally removes all or most of the excess skin below the belly button and includes an incision around the belly button. A mini tummy tuck removes less skin but does not have an incision around the belly button. The muscles can be repaired with either a full or mini tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck is almost always combined with liposuction to remove extra fat of the upper abdomen and/or waist to optimize the results of the procedure. A tummy tuck can be combined with other procedures as well, such as aesthetic breast surgery or liposuction to other areas of the body.
Who is a candidate for a tummy tuck?
Anyone who is in good health but who has loose skin, stretch marks, or separated abdominal wall muscles may be a candidate for a tummy tuck. Most of our tummy tuck patients have either been pregnant or have lost a significant amount of weight. A tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure; it is not a weight-loss procedure. A good diet and regular exercise routine are the only healthy, effective, and lasting paths to weight loss.
Benefits of tummy tuck
After a tummy tuck you can expect:
- A flatter and more toned abdomen
- A more youthful figure
- To feel better in a wide array of clothing styles
- The confidence to expose your midriff
Your tummy tuck options
Tummy tuck surgery is a customized procedure that our Clareo surgeons tailor to the unique needs of each patient. Determining the right approach to your surgery will depend on your anatomy, your cosmetic goals, and the level of correction needed. Your surgeon will discuss your tummy tuck options with you during your initial consultation. Together, you will decide which of the following is right for you.
- Mini tummy tuck: A mini tummy tuck addresses excess skin and fat below the belly button. Mini tummy tucks can be performed with or without muscle repair, and include a small incision along the lower abdomen. Mini tummy tucks are best suited for men and women who need only minor improvements and don’t require significant skin removal.
- Full or traditional tummy tuck: Standard tummy tuck surgery is often called a full or traditional tummy tuck. This procedure involves an incision on the lower abdomen and around the belly button. A full tummy tuck is ideal for those who require a moderate amount of skin and fat removal, as well as muscle tightening or repair. Traditional tummy tuck surgery differs from a mini tummy tuck in that it can improve the appearance of the abdomen both above and below the belly button.
- Circumferential tummy tuck (body lift): For people who have lost a significant amount of weight, a circumferential tummy tuck, or body lift, may be most beneficial. This technique addresses excess skin and fat around the entire abdomen, flanks, and back. Although this surgery is the most invasive, it also provides the most dramatic results. It not only creates smoother body contours and a slimmer silhouette, it also can improve physical issues like skin chafing – making it easier to exercise and live a healthy lifestyle.
Tummy tuck surgery
Your tummy tuck surgery will be performed in a fully-equipped surgical suite or a hospital. You will be given general anesthesia to put you in a deep sleep and ensure your comfort during the procedure.
During surgery, your Clareo surgeon will make the appropriate incisions and remove any extra skin. If muscle tightening is needed, the abdominal muscles will be pulled tight. This will help create a flatter, firmer midsection. Liposuction is also used to remove extra fat and slim the body. Drains may be placed under your skin to help remove excess fluid and reduce swelling. If placed, they will be taken out in a few days after your procedure.
Recovery and results
While some patients are out of bed and walking the evening of surgery, it can take up to a week for other patients to stand up straight, up to three weeks to return to work, and six weeks before patients are using their core muscles for lifting or strenuous activity.
Once you have completely healed, your tummy will be flat with tighter muscles. The scar will be placed low and can easily be covered by clothing and swimwear. With a full tummy tuck, there also is an incision around the belly button. Patients are encouraged to have completed their pregnancies prior to having a tummy tuck, as pregnancy can stretch the skin and separate the muscles even after a tummy tuck.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does BMI (body mass index) affect whether someone is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
Board certified plastic surgeons recognize the increase risks, including blood clots and wound infections, associated with patients with a high BMI. While surgeons may vary slightly regarding the upper BMI limit, Dr. Tantillo does not offer tummy tuck to patients whose BMI is greater than 33. Patient safety is most important.
Our surgeons, and most board certified plastic surgeons, agree that it’s best to be as close as possible to your ideal body weight before having a tummy tuck. This will ensure that your results are both rewarding and long-lasting. A stable and realistic weight is best.
Does the scar from tummy tuck surgery ever completely fade?
No. All surgery leaves a scar, but our surgeons use techniques to make scarring as inconspicuous as possible. Scars can be faint with proper wound closure and scar management. Genetics also affect how noticeable your scar is. Regardless, most of our patients find that their scar is a small price to pay for the transformative results they enjoy, and that their scar can be easily concealed by clothing and swimwear.
Is there any medication to help heal the scar from a tummy tuck procedure, and can that medication also help the scar fade?
Yes. Some medications can help lighten scars and minimize their appearance. Different surgeons will recommend different things, but most agree that silicone, pressure, and antioxidants are effective. Our Clareo surgeons recommend BIOCORNEUM® and scar massage.
If I have small, young children, should I wait until the children are older before scheduling my tummy tuck?
Not necessarily. We often have tummy tuck patients who also have young children at home. The key is asking for help and preparing for your recovery. Typically, you will need to avoid lifting anything over 5 pounds for 6 weeks. This can be very difficult for mothers who want to carry or hold their children, but it is only temporary and is necessary to ensure your results are not compromised. Engage the help of a friend, relative, or trusted loved one for some assistance during the weeks following your procedure.
Will a tummy tuck truly be able to bring my body back to its firm shape like it was before I had children?
Yes. A tummy tuck really can help you regain your pre-baby body. That’s because a tummy tuck addresses excess skin and muscle separation that is caused by pregnancy. In fact, many of our patients even say that they look better after their tummy tuck surgery than they did before they had children.
It’s important to note that tummy tuck surgery does not improve the quality of the surrounding skin or tissue that is not removed at the time of your operation. So, if there are stretchmarks outside of your treatment area, they will remain.