Has significant weight loss or pregnancy left you with loose skin or separated abdominal muscles? If you're looking for a way to restore your waistline and your confidence, a tummy tuck – also known as abdominoplasty – could be the solution you've been looking for.
This popular procedure removes excess skin and fat and tightens your abdominal muscles, giving you the toned, flat stomach you desire. But what exactly is a tummy tuck, and is it right for you? This guide will tell you what to expect before, during and after tummy tuck surgery.
Understanding the procedure, what it can accomplish for you and how to choose a surgeon are essential first steps.
A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal area while tightening the muscles. Different types of tummy tucks are available, including mini, full and extended. The right procedure for you will depend on your needs and aesthetic goals.
While a tummy tuck can be a life-changing procedure for many, it's not suitable for everyone. Ideal candidates are often people who have experienced significant weight loss or pregnancy and have excess skin, stretched or separated muscles and stubborn fat in the abdominal area that hasn't responded to diet and exercise. To achieve the best results, you should be at or near your goal weight before surgery.
It's important to do your research when choosing a surgeon. Look for a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in tummy tuck surgery. Check their credentials, ask for referrals, read reviews from other patients and review before-and-after photos of their work.
Once you've narrowed your choices, schedule a consultation with your chosen surgeon to discuss your goals and concerns. Good communication between patient and surgeon is key to getting your desired results.
The ASPS Find a Plastic Surgeon referral service is an excellent resource for finding an ASPS Member Surgeon in your area.
The cost of a tummy tuck varies depending on factors such as the type of abdominoplasty performed, the surgeon's experience and your geographic location. A tummy tuck typically costs between $10,000 and $20,000. While insurance usually doesn't cover tummy tucks, financing options are often available.
Preparation for a tummy tuck can include quitting smoking several weeks in advance, eating a healthy, balanced diet and avoiding certain medications. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions.
You'll need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery and stay to assist you for the first several days of your recovery.
Let's look closer at how a tummy tuck works and what you can expect during surgery.
A tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia and typically takes between two to four hours, depending on the extent of the procedure. The surgeon makes an incision that enables the removal of excess skin and fat while tightening the abdominal muscles. The skin around the belly button will also be reshaped during a full tummy tuck.
Here is a step-by-step breakdown of what you can expect during a tummy tuck procedure:
Knowing what to expect while healing from tummy tuck surgery helps you understand how to prepare for your recovery.
Recovery from tummy tuck surgery can take several weeks. Here's a general timeline of what you can expect during your recovery:
Since every patient's recovery timeline differs, follow your surgeon's instructions for your specific case.
Scarring is a common side effect of any surgery. However, you can minimize the scarring from tummy tuck surgery with proper care and follow-up.
The size and location of your scars will depend on the type of tummy tuck surgery you have. For a full tummy tuck, the scar typically extends from hip bone to hip bone and around the navel. A skilled surgeon will make the hip-to-hip incision straight and as low as possible so that underwear or swimsuit bottoms easily conceal the scar.
The scars will be visible for several months after the surgery but typically fade over time. Your surgeon will provide specific instructions for scar care and may recommend scar-minimizing treatments such as silicone sheets or gels.
It's important to have realistic expectations. While a tummy tuck can remove excess skin and fat and tighten the abdominal muscles, it's not a weight loss procedure nor a substitute for a healthy lifestyle.
The full results of a tummy tuck may take several months to fully appear as the swelling subsides and the incisions heal. To maintain your results, avoiding significant weight fluctuations is essential.
Tummy tuck surgery can be a transformative experience for patients, providing a smoother, more toned abdominal area that significantly enhances self-image and confidence.
The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.