Tummy Tuck

Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck removes excess fat and skin, and in most cases restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer. A tummy tuck combined with other cosmetic surgeries such as breast lift or breast augmentation, has become known as a "Mommy Makeover".

Why Tummy Tuck?

Enhancing your appearance with a tummy tuck

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:

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

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

What it 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 may be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.

Also, 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, generally those treated areas below the belly button.

Is it right for me?

Tummy tuck surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else's desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.

Abdominoplasty is a good option for you if:

  • You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
  • You have realistic expectations
  • You are a non-smoker
  • You are bothered by the feeling that your tummy is too large or loose

What happens during tummy tuck surgery?

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 navel. The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the degree of correction necessary.

Through this incision, weakened abdominal muscles are repaired and sutured and excess fat, tissue and skin is removed.

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

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.

The final results 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 about your new slimmer profile.

Important facts about the safety and risks of abdominoplasty

The decision to have tummy tuck surgery is extremely personal and you'll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications are acceptable.

Your plastic surgeon and/or staff will explain in detail the risks associated with surgery. You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.

Possible risks of abdominoplasty include:

  • Unfavorable scarring
  • Bleeding (hematoma)
  • Infection
  • Fluid accumulation
  • Poor wound healing
  • Skin loss
  • Blood clots
  • Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
  • Anesthesia risks
  • Skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
  • Fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
  • Major wound separation
  • Asymmetry
  • Recurrent looseness of skin
  • Pain, which may persist
  • Deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
  • Persistent swelling in the legs
  • Nerve damage
  • Possibility of revisional surgery
  • Suboptimal aesthetic result

You'll need help.

If your abdominoplasty is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery. Often times the surgeon recommends an overnight stay at the surgery center. This provides you with close supervision and nursing care during the early recovery phase.

My Recovery

Following your surgery, 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 to support your abdomen as it heals.

A small, thin tube or two may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.

You may also have a thin tube under the skin delivering local anesthetic for better pain control.

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, and when to follow-up with your plastic surgeon.

Previous abdominal surgery may limit the potential results of a tummy tuck. In women who have undergone cesarean section, the existing scars may often be incorporated into the new scar.

How much will tummy tuck surgery cost?

Cost is always a consideration in elective surgery. Prices for tummy tucks can vary widely. A surgeon's cost for a tummy tuck may vary based on his or her experience, the type of procedure used, as well as geographic office location.

Many plastic surgeons offer patient financing plans, so be sure to ask.

Costs may include:

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

Your satisfaction involves more than a fee.

When choosing a plastic surgeon for a tummy tuck, remember that the surgeon's experience and your comfort with him or her are just as important as the final cost of the surgery.

Words to Know

  • Abdominoplasty: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.
  • Diastasis: Condition in which abdominal muscles have separated.
  • General anesthesia: Drugs and/or gases used during an operation to relieve pain and alter consciousness.
  • Hematoma: Blood pooling beneath the skin.
  • Intravenous sedation: Sedatives administered by injection into a vein to help you relax.
  • Liposuction: Also called lipoplasty or suction lipectomy, this procedure vacuums out fat from beneath the skin's surface to reduce fullness.
  • Local anesthesia: A drug is injected directly to the site of an incision during an operation to relieve pain.
  • Sutures: Stitches used by surgeons to hold skin and tissue together.
  • Tummy tuck: A surgical procedure to correct the apron of excess skin hanging over your abdomen.

View Before And After Photos

Click the above button to view actual patient before and after photographs from surgeons who are ASPS members and certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery.

These photographs represent typical results, but not everyone who undergoes plastic surgery will achieve the same.

Before
After
  • This patient is 38 years old. The patient's height is 5ft 4in. Before the procedure, the patient weighed 195lbs. A Extended (Posterior Iliac Crest) incision was created by the procedure. Abdominal wall plications were created below umbilicus and above umbilicus . Concomitant Liposuction was performed Hip/lateral to excision/dogear . After the procedure, the patient weighed 185lbs. After photos for this patient were taken 6 months postoperatively.
  • Age: 38
  • Height Feet: 5
  • Height Inches: 4
  • Postoperative Weight: 185
  • Preoperative Weight: 195
  • Number of Prior Pregnancies: 3
  • Length of incision: Extended (Posterior Iliac Crest)
  • Abdominal Wall Plication: above umbilicus
  • Abdominal Wall Plication: below umbilicus
  • Concomitant hernia repair: none
  • Concomitant liposuction: Hip/lateral to excision/dogear
  • Months between operation and 'after' photos: 6
Before
After
  • This patient is 33 years old. The patient's height is 5ft 2in. Before the procedure, the patient weighed 119lbs. A Short Scar (suprapubic) incision was created by the procedure. An umbilical translocation was performed. After photos for this patient were taken 8 months postoperatively.
  • Age: 33
  • Height Feet: 5
  • Height Inches: 2
  • Preoperative Weight: 119
  • Number of Prior Pregnancies: 2
  • Length of incision: Short Scar (suprapubic)
  • Umbilical Translocation: No
  • Concomitant hernia repair: none
  • Months between operation and 'after' photos: 8
Before
After
  •  This patient is 32 years old. The patient's height is 5ft 4in. Before the procedure, the patient weighed 140lbs. A Anterior Iliac Crest incision was created by the procedure. An umbilical translocation was performed. Abdominal wall plications were created below umbilicus and above umbilicus . A concomitant hernia repair was performed for an Umbilical hernia. After photos for this patient were taken 6 months postoperatively.
  • Age: 32
  • Height Feet: 5
  • Height Inches: 4
  • Preoperative Weight: 140
  • Number of Prior Pregnancies: 5
  • Length of incision: Anterior Iliac Crest
  • Umbilical Translocation: Yes
  • Abdominal Wall Plication: below umbilicus
  • Abdominal Wall Plication: above umbilicus
  • Concomitant hernia repair: Umbilical
  • Months between operation and 'after' photos: 6