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Tummy Tuck

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What is a tummy tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, removes excess fat and skin and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer.

A flat and well-toned abdomen is something many of us strive for through exercise and weight control. Sometimes these methods cannot achieve our goals.

Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include:

  • Aging
  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prior surgery
  • Significant fluctuations in weight

What a tummy tuck won’t do

A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program.

Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies would be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.

A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised.

Tummy tuck cost

The average cost of a tummy tuck is $5,493, according to 2014 statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Tummy tuck surgery cost can vary widely. The average fee referenced above does not include anesthesia, operating room facilities or other related expenses.

A surgeon’s fee will be based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, and the geographic office location.

Most health insurance does not cover tummy tuck surgery or its complications, but many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.

Tummy tuck surgery cost may include:

  • Anesthesia fees
  • Hospital or surgical facility costs
  • Medical tests
  • Post-surgery garments
  • Prescriptions for medication
  • Surgeon’s fee

Tummy tuck candidates

In general, you may be a good tummy tuck candidate if:

  • You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
  • You have realistic expectations
  • You are a non-smoker
  • You are bothered by the appearance of your abdomen

Tummy tuck recovery

During your tummy tuck recovery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling and support your abdomen as it heals following surgery.

Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.

You will be given specific instructions that may include:

  • How to care for the surgical site and drains
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection
  • Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
  • When to follow up with your plastic surgeon

Be sure to ask your tummy tuck surgeon specific questions about what you can expect during your individual recovery period:

  • Where will I be taken after my surgery is complete?
  • What medication will I be given or prescribed after surgery?
  • Will I have dressings/bandages after surgery? When will they be removed?
  • When will the stitches be removed?
  • How will I bathe?
  • How long will I wear the pressure garment?
  • When can I resume normal activity and exercise?
  • When do I return for follow-up care?

Tummy tuck results

The final results of tummy tuck surgery may be initially obscured by swelling and your inability to stand fully upright until internal healing is complete.

Within a week or two, you should be standing tall and confident in your new slimmer profile.

Your tummy tuck will result in a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that is more proportionate with your body type and weight.

Previous abdominal surgery may limit the potential results of a tummy tuck.

Tummy tuck scarring

In women who have undergone cesarean section, the existing scars may be incorporated into the new scar.

The tummy tuck scar may take several months to a year to fade as much as it will.

Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary.

Following your physician’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery.

It’s important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.

Tummy tuck procedure steps

A tummy tuck procedure includes the following steps:

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The incision

A full tummy tuck requires a horizontally-oriented incision in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button.

Tummy tuck incision front abdomen

The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the amount of excess skin. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, the underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired.

A second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.

Tummy tuck incision front abdomen sutures

The upper abdominal skin is pulled down like a window shade. The excess skin is trimmed and the remaining skin is sutured together. A new opening for the belly button is created. The belly button is popped through to the surface and sutured into position.

Tummy tuck side before and after

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips close the skin incisions.

Step 4 – See the results

Your tummy tuck will result in a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that is more proportionate with your body type and weight.