It can be frustrating to diet and exercise faithfully, yet still have excess fat and loose skin in your abdominal area. Both women and men experience this issue, usually due to a combination of age and genetics. For women who have had one or more pregnancies, the issue may be especially pronounced because the stress of carrying a child causes abdominal muscles to weaken or even become separated.
A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes excess fat and skin to create a noticeably smoother, flatter, and firmer abdomen. By removing unwanted fatty tissue and tightening your abdominal muscles, a skilled cosmetic surgeon can remove your “belly pooch” and give you the toned tummy you’ve always wanted, but couldn’t achieve through diet and exercise alone.
Who Is a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
Men and women who are in good overall health, are nonsmokers, and are within their target body weight are the best candidates for this surgery. You shouldn’t confuse abdominoplasty with a weight-loss procedure, since the goal of a tummy tuck is to provide targeted contouring, rather than to substitute for a healthy diet and exercise regimen.
At the Maryland Institute of Plastic Surgery, your surgeon will customize your tummy tuck based on your body type and desired aesthetic outcomes. We can add liposuction to your procedure, if necessary, to remove any excess fatty deposits. Combining liposuction with an abdominoplasty can create even more satisfying surgical outcomes.
Candidates who plan to lose weight or become pregnant should hold off on undergoing this surgery, as both weight loss and pregnancy can lead to the development of more lax skin in this area.
Many women choose to get an abdominoplasty as part of a mommy makeover, which is a combination of procedures designed to help women reshape their bodies after pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many people who have had bariatric surgery are also good candidates for a tummy tuck.
If you only have stubborn fat deposits in your abdominal region, but do not have skin laxity or stretched muscles, liposuction alone may be enough for you. Your skin must have enough elasticity, however. We can determine what you need during your consultation.
Your Tummy Tuck Consultation
If you are considering tummy tuck surgery, your first step is to meet one-on-one with a qualified cosmetic surgeon to discuss your concerns about your appearance and your goals for your tummy tuck, as well as your medical history, medications you take, and previous procedures you have had. We will answer all your questions, explain what to expect, and tell you how to prepare for your surgery.
The success of your tummy tuck procedure depends on your complete honesty and willingness to answer a series of questions about your health and lifestyle. You should arrive at your consultation prepared to discuss:
- What you hope this surgery will help you achieve
- Your health history, including previous surgeries and any drug allergies
- Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
This consultation is also your time to ask your plastic surgeon questions to help you understand all aspects of your tummy tuck procedure, including what you can expect during recovery and what the surgery can realistically help you achieve. There’s no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your health, so don’t be shy about discussing all your concerns.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
A tummy tuck is an outpatient procedure that usually takes two to four hours. You may also choose to combine your abdominoplasty with other cosmetic procedures, such as a thigh lift, breast augmentation, or breast lift, as long as the total time of your surgery does not exceed seven to eight hours.
After administering anesthesia, your surgeon will begin by making an incision from one hip to the other under the bikini line. If you opted to get liposuction to remove excess fat, the doctor will insert a thin tube called a cannula through the incision to remove fatty tissue with a device that creates suction. Then, the surgeon will tighten the abdominal muscles, trim excess skin, and suture the remaining skin together for a smoother, slimmer contour. Your surgeon will also usually reposition your belly button, so it is in a more natural-looking position on your flatter stomach.
For patients who have excess skin and muscle laxity only below their belly button, a slightly less complex operation called a mini tummy tuck is a good option. This procedure follows a similar process as the one described above, except it requires a smaller incision, and does not involve repositioning your belly button. If you have excess skin or loss of muscle tone both above and below your navel, however, we suggest that you undergo a full tummy tuck.
Preparing for Your Tummy Tuck
Please avoid taking Advil, Aleve, aspirin, ibuprofen, Motrin, and Naproxen for two weeks before the date of your surgery. Please also refrain from taking high-dose vitamins and herbal medications. If you take other prescriptions or over-the-counter medications regularly, you should be able to continue taking those before your procedure. If you are on blood pressure medication, it is especially critical to keep taking it, so your blood pressure remains normal during surgery.
One of our four board-certified cosmetic surgeons will perform your tummy tuck in the hospital while you are under general anesthesia. Most patients can go home the same day, but be sure to have someone available to drive you home and stay with you for the first 24 hours, as you will be drowsy from the anesthesia.
Recovering from a Tummy Tuck
After your surgery, you will need to wear a compression garment for four to six weeks to minimize swelling. You will also have surgical drains in your incisions that collect fluids as you heal; we will remove them within one to two weeks.
We will send you home with detailed post-operative instructions that include:
- How to care for your incision sites and drains
- Medications you can take to minimize pain, speed healing, and reduce the potential for infection
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your overall health
- When to return for follow-up appointments with your surgeon
The most common side effects after abdominoplasty include bruising, swelling, soreness, tightness, and itching. These symptoms will gradually subside during the first month.
Most tummy tuck patients take about two weeks off from work to recover. We ask that you avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activity for four to six weeks, however. Final results from your surgery can take four to six months to fully develop.
The results of your tummy tuck are permanent, but fatty deposits and lax skin can develop again in this area. Maintaining a steady weight with diet and exercise can help you achieve long-term outcomes from your surgery.
Learn More About the Tummy Tuck Procedure
If you’re ready to achieve a toned midsection, schedule your consultation with one of our experienced surgeons, and find out how a tummy tuck at the Maryland Institute of Plastic Surgery can give you a flatter abdomen.