The tummy tuck is one of the most popular procedures in the world, but what if you’re not exactly sure about what it can do? That’s where we come in; to help our patients get a sense of this incredible procedure, the Maryland Institute of Plastic Surgery has gathered the most frequently asked questions about the tummy tuck.
What’s a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is a plastic surgery procedure designed to create a sleeker, more athletic belly. It’s designed to remove excess skin, sculpt the fat on the belly, and tighten abdominal muscles that were stretched out by pregnancy. When performed by the right surgeon, patients can look forward to a permanently narrow waist and a more athletic-looking belly.
Who’s the Ideal Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
We can’t stress this enough: a tummy tuck is not a weight loss procedure. A tummy tuck is a procedure for people who are close to their ideal weight (i.e., at a stable weight that they’re happy with), but still want to sculpt their abdomen. Many people who opt for a tummy tuck have often found that diet and exercise were not effective, and that they needed another solution for attaining a sleeker figure.
With that in mind, the ideal candidate for a tummy tuck is someone who is in good health, has no untreated diseases, and is willing to quit smoking for at least a couple of weeks before surgery and a couple of weeks after. Patients should also have realistic expectations for what a tummy tuck can do for them.
What’s the Difference Between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction
Liposuction is a plastic surgery procedure that suctions out excess fat from various areas of the body. A tummy tuck only targets, well, the tummy. And while a tummy tuck uses a long incision above the pubis to remove tissue, a liposuction works through a small metal tube called a cannula. The cannula is inserted through a number of small incisions made on the skin, then moved back and forth across the body to precisely remove layers of fat.
Another important distinction is that a tummy tuck will remove excess skin and tighten the abdominal muscles; liposuction would only remove excess fat, so if you have too much excess skin on the belly, a liposuction would only make the problem worse!
Can It Deal with Stretch Marks?
It depends. Stretch marks often go hand-in-hand with post-pregnancy potbellies or extra fat on the belly, but it’s not something specifically targeted by a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck will remove some excess skin under the belly-button, if you have stretch marks on the lower abdomen, a tummy tuck may remove it.
What Will My Scar Look Like?
After a tummy tuck, patients will have a scar that spans from hip to hip that’s located above their pubic bone. The length will really vary from case to case; for more substantial tummy tuck surgeries, patients may end up with a somewhat longer-than-average scar. Regardless of the length of your incision, your surgeon will strategically locate it so that the scar can be easily hidden by underwear or swimsuit bottoms.
Will a Tummy Tuck Hurt?
We usually find that patients think their tummy tuck recovery isn’t as painful as they thought it could be; it’s actually somewhat of a problem since some patients think that they can start resuming their everyday activities much earlier than they should. For proper healing, we recommend that patients take it easy for at least two weeks.
Rather than feeling hurt or in pain, most patients feel some combination of swelling, bruising, and soreness after their tummy tuck. Like most practices, we offer our patients prescription pain medication. But as we mentioned before, most patients end up using over-the-counter medication a few days in to their recovery.
Will I Really Need to Wear Drains?
After your tummy tuck procedure, your surgeon will need to install some drains in to your incisions; we do this because the tissues tend to accumulate fluid after surgery, and to prevent a dangerous amount of swelling the drains are installed. Thankfully, these drains can be removed after 1-2 weeks.
As handy as this guide may be, there’s so much more to learn about the tummy tuck. If you’d like to know more about one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures in the world, contact the Maryland Institute of Plastic Surgery for a chance to speak with one of our many board-certified surgeons.