Tummy Tuck

The surgeon draws underlying muscle and tissue together and stitches them, thereby narrowing the waistline and strengthening the abdominal wall.

isproportional abdomen or fat tissue concentrated in the abdominal area that is unresponsive to diet and exercise, but who are otherwise in relatively good shape, are the best candidates for this type of procedure. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin through multiple pregnancies to the point where they can no longer return to normal. Older patients can also regain lost skin elasticity, which frequently occurs with slight obesity.

Patients whose intent is to lose significant weight should postpone the surgery, as should women who plan future pregnancies. Vertical abdominal muscles that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy. Your doctor may recommend against abdominoplasty if you have scarring from previous abdominal surgery, or caution you that scars could be unusually prominent.

A tummy tuck can improve your appearance and self-confidence, but it won’t necessarily change your looks to match your ideal or cause other people to treat you differently. Think carefully about your expectations before you decide to have surgery, and discuss them with your surgeon.

All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty and Risk

Thousands of abdominoplasty procedures are performed successfully each year, and when performed by a qualified plastic surgeon trained in body contouring, the results are generally positive. Still, there are always risks associated with any surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.

Generally, operative complications that can be introduced by poor health. Conditions of the vascular system tend to slow healing, as does smoking, which raises other complication risks as well. Failure to heal properly, in turn, can result in conspicuous scarring and necessitate additional surgery.

Post-operative blood clots are rare, but not unheard of. Clotting risk can be minimized by moving around as soon as possible after surgery. Infection, too, though rare, is a possibility. Infection can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, but will prolong your hospital stay. Bleeding and tissue loss along portions of the incision are also potential complications of a procedure like this, and although steps are always taken to minimize risk, it remains a part of any surgery.

Your doctor will do all he can to reduce your risk of complications, and you can do your part by closely following your surgeon’s instructions before and after the surgery, especially with regard to when and how you should resume physical activity.

Before Your Surgery

In your initial consultation, your surgeon will carefully evaluate and assess your health, your abdominal fat deposits, and your skin tone. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, and if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs. Any one or more of these could have a significant impact on the outcome of your surgery.

Be frank in discussing your expectations with your surgeon. He should be equally frank with you, offering alternative solutions and describing the advantages, limitations and risks of each. Each patient is unique, and your surgeon should employ his experience, his knowledge of current techniques, and your unique situation to recommend the procedure that is right for you and will come closest to producing the desired body contour.

Your surgeon should also explain the anesthesia to be used, the type of facility where the surgery will be performed, and the costs involved. Health insurance policies seldom cover the cost of a tummy tuck, but you will want to check your policy just to be certain.

In preparation for surgery, your surgeon will give you specific instructions including guidelines on eating, drinking, vitamins, and medications. If you smoke, plan to quit at least one week, preferably two, prior to your surgery and not to resume for at least two weeks following your surgery. Overexposure to the sun, especially to your abdomen, and stringent diets should be avoided, as both can inhibit your ability to heal. If you develop a cold or infection of any kind, your surgery will probably be postponed.

Many surgeons perform both partial and complete abdominoplasties in an outpatient surgical center or an office-based facility. Others prefer the hospital, where their patients can stay for several days.

Regardless of where your surgery is performed, you should arrange for someone to drive you home afterwards, and to help you out for a day or two, if necessary.

The Surgery

Depending on your individual situation, your doctor may use a general anesthesthetic, so you’ll sleep through the operation, or he may use local anesthesia combined with a sedative. You’ll be awake but relaxed, and your abdominal region will be insensitive to pain, though you may feel some tugging or occasional discomfort.

Complete abdominoplasty typically takes between two and five hours, and partial abdominoplasty may only take an hour or two. Most often, the surgeon begins by making a long incision from hipbone to hipbone just above the pubic area, followed by an incision to free the navel from surrounding tissue.

The surgeon next separates the skin from the abdominal wall up to the ribs and lifts it to reveal the vertical abdominal muscles. The muscles are pulled close together and stitched into their new position to produce a firmer abdominal wall and narrower waistline.

The skin flap is then stretched down and the excess is cut away. A new navel hole is cut, and the navel is stitched in place. The remaining incisions are then stitched and dressings are applied, A tube may be inserted temporarily for the purpose of draining excess fluid from the surgical site.

In the case of partial abdominoplasty, the incision is much shorter and the navel may not be moved, though as the skin is tightened and stitched it may be pulled into an unnatural shape. The skin is separated only between the incision line and the navel. As in the more extensive procedure, the skin flap is stretched down, the excess removed, and the flap is stitched back into place.

After Your Surgery

It may take weeks to feel like yourself again, and as much as a year before their scars flatten out and lighten in color. Your abdomen will probably be swollen for the first few days and you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort, though these can be controlled by medication.

Depending on the extent of the surgery, you may be released within a few hours or you may have to remain hospitalized for a few days. Your doctor will give you instructions for showering and changing your dressings. Strict adherence to these instructions are a patient’s best defense against complications and disappointment with any procedure.

Surface stitches will be removed in five to seven days. Deeper sutures, with ends that protrude through the skin, will come out in two to three weeks. The dressing on your incision may be replaced by a support garment.

Though you may not be able to stand straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible. In addition to the reduced risk of clotting, mild exercise will reduce swelling, tone muscles, and generally aid healing, and even those who have not exercised before should begin a regimen. Of course, vigorous exercise should wait until it can be done comfortably.

If you start out in top physical condition with strong abdominal muscles, recovery from abdominoplasty will be much faster. Some people return to work after two weeks, while others take three or four weeks to rest and recuperate.

It is actually normal for scars to initially appear to worsen as they heal over the first three to six months. It generally takes nine months to a year before scars flatten out and lighten in color. While they’ll never disappear completely, abdominal scars are usually covered by most clothing, including bathing suits.

Your New Look

Whether partial or complete, abdominoplasty produces excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. In most cases, the results are long lasting, if you protect your investment using the same practices that are positive for the skin and body in general: protection from the sun, avoiding smoking, balanced diet, and regular exercise.


An incision just above the pubic area is used to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen.


Skin is separated from the abdominal wall all the way up to the ribs.