Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty)

A tummy tuck, medically referred to as an abdominoplasty, is one of the most popular surgical cosmetic enhancement procedures available. One of the primary reasons for this is that tummy tuck surgery can successfully address a very common problem: lax abdominal muscles and the collection of excess skin in the abdomen. These conditions can affect both men and women, and it can be very frustrating for individuals who realize that a healthy diet and regular exercise seem to be ineffectual at resolving the issue. Our board-certified plastic surgeon, Dr. David L. Durst, will meet with you for an initial consultation to talk about your goals and help you determine whether tummy tuck surgery is the best option for your needs.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery is a body contouring procedure for the abdomen and lateral waist. If you think you may need a tummy tuck, one of the most important things to consider is whether there is loose skin in the abdomen area. If you do not have loose skin, a liposuction procedure can usually be done in an isolated fashion. However, if you have loose skin, a tummy tuck may be necessary to achieve a smooth, sleek, and flatter abdomen. Tummy tucks are generally necessary for women who experience a stretched abdomen due to pregnancy, or individuals who have had significant weight loss resulting in excessive loose abdominal skin.

What Can a Tummy Tuck Do?

The potential benefits of tummy tuck surgery are numerous. This procedure can ultimately:

  • Remove excess, overhanging abdominal skin
  • Tighten the remaining skin to create a flatter, smoother abdomen
  • Pull the abdominal muscles taut for firmer results

A tummy tuck can address the effects that weight loss, pregnancy, and the natural process of aging can have on the appearance of the abdomen. Many patients who have had this procedure feel much more confident about the way they look, and less self-conscious when wearing certain types of clothing or swimming attire.

Am I a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?

With the many benefits offered by tummy tuck surgery, it is important to note that abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure. In fact, the best candidates for this treatment are typically those who are already at or close to the average healthy weight for their specific body type. Often, patients will have a slight change in their weight on the scale after a tummy tuck; however, the real benefit in the procedure is in shaping. When the abdominal area is treated via abdominoplasty, generally very dramatic changes can be seen after surgery.

Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction

Both a tummy tuck and liposuction are common procedures to improve the waist and abdomen, leading many patients to wonder whether which treatment would best resolve their concerns. A consultation with a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon like Dr. Durst is the most effective way to determine the right procedure for you; however, the following questions may provide you with some guidance: 

  • Do I have sagging skin? If your abdomen is affected by loose, hanging skin, liposuction alone — which only works to remove excess fat — will not be enough to restore a sleek contour. In these cases, a tummy tuck is usually necessary to gain a smoother and flatter stomach.
  • Have I had children? More often than not, pregnancy tends to stretch and separate the abdominal muscles. When this happens, no amount of dieting or exercise will fully alleviate a hanging or bulging stomach. Tummy tuck surgery, however, can bring these muscles back together to slim your abdominal profile.

After evaluating your concerns, Dr. Durst will be able to recommend an appropriate procedure to achieve your goals and fully explain the risks and potential benefits of surgery. Many people combine liposuction and a tummy tuck to maximize the improvement seen after their procedure. 

What Can I Expect From My Tummy Tuck Consultation?

At your initial consultation, Dr. Durst will discuss the abdominoplasty procedure with you, answer all of your questions, and conduct a complete examination. This appointment will include an assessment of your general health, height, current weight, and exercise regimen. Most patients schedule an appointment for a tummy tuck consultation after they have “maxed out” with their diet and exercise program without achieving the flat stomach they desire. During your appointment, Dr. Durst will discuss exactly what components of a tummy tuck will be best for the results that you hope to achieve. Often, he recommends some liposuction along with the tummy tuck. Additionally, the tummy tuck typically includes muscle tightening in the mid-abdomen and, of course, the removal of the loose skin. Some patients are candidates for what Dr. Durst calls a mini tummy tuck; however, in Dr. Durst’s years of experience, he finds that most patients receive the best results with a full abdominoplasty.

How is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

An abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia, often in our office-based surgical OR facility. In most traditional tummy tuck surgeries, the excess skin will be removed, the muscles tightened, and the remaining skin will be re-draped for firmer, smoother results. The navel will also likely be repositioned.

Most abdominoplasty patients stay overnight the day of surgery, but for some patients this is not necessary. After the procedure is finished, you will wear an abdominal binder, which is a compression garment to help reduce swelling. The incision is located quite low on the abdominal crease so it can be covered by most two-piece bathing suits. Most of the sutures are absorbable, and generally the incision heals with a very nice appearance over time.

Mini Tummy Tuck

A mini tummy tuck is not as extensive as a full tummy tuck. This option may be more ideal for patients who have excess abdominal skin that is mainly present below the navel. In fact, unlike a full abdominoplasty, a mini tummy tuck does not involve navel repositioning. For the right candidate, this procedure can provide beautiful outcomes. A mini tummy tuck also typically requires a shorter recovery period when compared to a traditional tummy tuck surgery.

Learn more about mini tummy tuck surgery.

What is Tummy Tuck Recovery Like?

From a recovery standpoint, an abdominoplasty is a fairly large procedure, with most patients taking between ten days to three weeks off work. Similarly, it takes some time to get back into your exercising routine. Dr. Durst will advise you specifically what to do in the follow-up period after this body surgery.

There are several office appointments in the first few weeks after surgery, and then the appointments are gradually spaced out. At first, patients will notice a good bit of swelling. This is normal and should fade as healing progresses. Discomfort during recovery can be managed with medication. Most patients start to see significant changes around two weeks after surgery. By six weeks after surgery, most individuals are very surprised at how good their abdomen looks. Photos are taken at two months after the surgery and then again at one year after surgery.

How Long Does a Tummy Tuck Last?

The results from a tummy tuck can last well into the future, if not a lifetime, as long as you maintain a stable weight and a healthy lifestyle. While the procedure is designed to tighten separated abdominal musculature, certain factors—such as pregnancy after tummy tuck surgery and weight fluctuation—can cause repeated stretching of the muscles in the abdomen, potentially reversing the outcome of surgery. For this reason, regular exercise and a healthy diet are typically the best ways to preserve the results of a tummy tuck. The aging process will continue, but your body contour should always be slimmer than if you had not undergone abdominoplasty.

What Will My Scars From a Tummy Tuck Look Like?

Unless you have undergone surgery for a mini tummy tuck, the scar from abdominoplasty should extend from hip to hip just below the bikini line. The incision is typically made low on the pubis, allowing any visible scarring to be concealed beneath most types of underwear or a bikini bottom. The scar from a mini tummy tuck is usually less extensive when compared to a full abdominoplasty, and Dr. Durst will let you know what you can expect with regard to post-surgical scars. With any surgery, taking proper care of your incisions after the procedure according to Dr. Durst’s recovery instructions can help your scars fade to some degree over time.

How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?

The cost of tummy tuck surgery varies from patient to patient based on each individual’s unique treatment plan, along with other factors that are taken into account. These factors can include the complexity of the operation, fees for anesthesia and the surgical facility, the experience of the plastic surgeon, and other associated expenses. The total cost of your procedure will depend on whether you are undergoing a full tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck, your customized treatment plan, and the factors noted above.

We believe that effective cosmetic enhancement from qualified medical professionals should be available to every interested individual; therefore, our practice offers a comprehensive array of payment options that can help make treatment as financially convenient as possible. We also work with reputable plastic surgery financing companies such as CareCredit® and Prosper®Healthcare, which offer a range of monthly payment plans for qualified applicants who would like to pay for their treatment over time. Once your treatment plan is developed during the consultation, a member of our team will come up with a total price estimate and go over your options with you. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and discuss the best way for you to bring tummy tuck surgery into your budget.

Tummy Tuck and Pregnancy

Dr. Durst receives many questions from patients who wonder whether they should undergo tummy tuck surgery while having plans for future pregnancy. The most ideal timing for your abdominoplasty will vary depending on your unique situation, but in general, Dr. Durst recommends postponing a tummy tuck until after you are finished having children. Pregnancy after tummy tuck surgery is certainly possible, but the physical changes caused by childbearing often stretch and separate the abdominal muscles once more, recreating the aesthetic concerns that a tummy tuck initially sought to resolve. For this reason, Dr. Durst advises against pursuing tummy tuck surgery before your family is complete.

Can I Get a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck?

Unfortunately, there is currently no treatment that can achieve the same quality of results as a tummy tuck without surgery. While certain abdominal binders like the Tummy Tuck Belt® claim to achieve the same aesthetic outcome as abdominoplasty by simply wearing the product, there is no medical or scientific evidence to support these marketing claims.

The main objectives of abdominoplasty is to bring together separated abdominal muscles and to remove excess skin, leading to a slimmer and more sculpted abdominal profile. Given that there is no minimally invasive technique that can tighten muscles in the abdomen, a surgical procedure is generally the only way to attain the firmer, tauter appearance characteristic of a tummy tuck.

Additional Tummy Tuck FAQs

Does insurance cover a tummy tuck?

Medical insurance usually does not cover elective cosmetic procedures like tummy tuck surgery. However, Dr. Durst accepts patient financing from reputable national lenders such as CareCredit® and Prosper® Healthcare Lending to make the costs of the procedure more affordable. Qualified patients often find it easier to manage their tummy tuck expenses with the short- and long-term payment plans offered by these healthcare financing companies.

What is a seroma after tummy tuck?

A seroma is a collection of fluid that may develop after a surgical procedure in which a lot of tissue was disrupted. This generally presents in the form of a lump or bump near the incision site. Seromas are relatively common after abdominoplasty and should resolve naturally during recovery as your body reabsorbs the fluid (serum). That said, if you develop the symptoms of a fever or your seroma is painful or infected, please seek medical attention immediately.

Can a tummy tuck get rid of stretch marks?

A tummy tuck may be able to remove your stretch marks depending on where they are located. Once Dr. Durst examines your concerns in a consultation, he will be able to let you know whether stretch mark removal is possible during your tummy tuck. In general, this is more likely if your stretch marks are located below the navel.

What should you eat after a tummy tuck?

Immediately after your surgery, Dr. Durst will likely advise you to eat a light meal or stick to a liquid diet. As your recovery progresses, we recommend eating healthy foods that are rich in protein and antioxidants to assist in the healing process. Nutritious meals consisting of fruits, vegetables, citrus, leafy greens, fish, and green tea can often help reduce swelling and strengthen your immune system.

How should I prepare for a tummy tuck?

Before abdominoplasty, patients who smoke should quit their habit as soon as possible prior to their procedure. Smoking restricts blood flow and greatly increases the risk of complications after surgery, so abstaining before and after a tummy tuck is critical to a successful recovery period.

What’s the difference between a tummy tuck and a panniculectomy?

While both a tummy tuck and a panniculectomy remove excess skin from around the waist and abdomen, there are certain differences between the two procedures. A panniculectomy is designed to alleviate skin irritation, rashes, and other symptoms caused by a “flap” of excess skin in the abdomen, meaning the surgery treats concerns that are more medical in nature. In contrast, a tummy tuck is simply performed for aesthetic reasons to attain a smoother, flatter, and more aesthetically pleasing abdomen.

Will a tummy tuck conceal a C-section scar?

It depends on the location of your C-section scar. Dr. Durst would be happy to evaluate whether abdominoplasty can help the appearance of scarring during your consultation. More often than not, the incision made for your C-section scar can be removed when performing a tummy tuck, allowing you to avoid additional scarring.

Can you gain weight after a tummy tuck?

Yes, a tummy tuck does not change your ability to gain weight. While the procedure provides a long-term outcome, we recommend living an active lifestyle to prevent weight fluctuation. This, in combination with ensuring you undergo the procedure only after you no longer plan to have children, can help ensure your results last as long as possible.

Contact Us

If you believe that a tummy tuck might be right for you, please call our office and schedule an appointment. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.