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 really 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.
Tummy Tuck FAQs
How will a tummy tuck improve my figure?
Tummy tucks improve a patient’s overall figure by removing excess fat and skin around the abdominal area while tightening the abdominal wall muscles. By holistically addressing the aesthetic concerns caused by age, weight fluctuation, and pregnancy, you’ll experience a tummy transformation.
Your stomach will be tighter, smoother, and look more proportional in clothing. Patients across the board report increased confidence and improved self-esteem from their Baltimore tummy tuck.
Doesn’t liposuction work alone? Why do I need a tummy tuck?
In some cases, liposuction by itself is an ideal solution to achieve a tight, toned abdomen. During your consultation, we’ll help determine what aesthetic solution will lead to the best results. For instance, some people’s belly protrudes primarily due to excess fat. If this is the case and your skin elasticity is likely able to contract after fat removal, liposuction may be sufficient on its own.
However, many patients hoping to achieve a flat, toned belly also have excess skin and a certain degree of muscle looseness in the abdomen. As such, liposuction by itself will only address part of the problem, leaving you with unwanted and potentially flabby skin. Abdominoplasty, on the other hand, has the capability to create the stomach of your dreams efficiently. Our experts are here do provide you with the best Maryland tummy tuck results.
Will my tummy tuck remove my stretch marks?
Stretch marks are a natural side effect of aging, weight fluctuation, and pregnancy. Depending on where your stretch marks are, they will likely be partially (if not entirely) removed.
When your surgeon removes your excess stomach skin, any stretch marks present in the will be addressed. In many cases, we will reposition some stretch marks to a less prominent part of the abdomen. However, some patients may not see any improvement from abdominoplasty.
During your consultation, we’ll help create a clearer picture of exactly what is and isn’t possible based on our in-person assessment of your unique case.
Do tummy tucks leave a scar?
Tummy tucks are a surgical operation. Since they require incisions, there will be some scarring.
Exactly what this scar looks like will be slightly different for every patient. We’ll determine the necessary length of the incision depending on how much skin needs to be removed. However, even longer scars shouldn’t be an issue, as tummy tuck incisions are placed as subtly possible low on your abdomen.
In most cases, underwear and even bikini bottoms will likely completely cover the scar. Over time, when properly cared for, most patients see a significant reduction in visible scarring.
Are tummy tucks safe?
Tummy tucks are safe and one of the most common cosmetic surgical procedures available today. That said, all surgeries come with some degree of risk, and abdominoplasty is no different. At the Maryland Plastic Surgery Center, we have a very high degree of success, and the vast majority of our patients don’t experience any complications.
We will do everything in our power to ensure your safety. Together, we will carefully plan out every step of your operation and recovery, including a screening process for possible risk factors, and working with you to choose the optimal surgical technique.
During your consultation, we’ll go into much greater depth about how we work to reduce risk and provide you with all the necessary information and tools to make an informed decision.
How long does tummy tuck recovery take?
Most of our patients schedule between one and two weeks away from work for tummy tuck recovery. After this point, you’ll be ready and able to resume most everyday activities. You should still avoid strenuous activity at this point, though.
While it’s essential to get up and move throughout the initial phases of recovery, you should plan to avoid all strenuous activity for about 12 weeks. This will ensure your body has the necessary time to fully and safely heal.
During your follow-up appointments, we’ll be able to determine which activities are safe to begin again based on your unique healing process.
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.