A tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve the appearance of the abdomen.
During a tummy tuck (also known as abdominoplasty) excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen. Connective tissue in the abdomen (fascia) usually is tightened with sutures as well. The remaining skin is then repositioned to create a more toned look.
You might choose to have a tummy tuck if you have excess fat or skin around the area of your belly button or a weak lower abdominal wall. A tummy tuck can also boost your body image.
There are a number of reasons you might have excess fat, poor elasticity of the skin or weakened connective tissue in your abdomen. These include:
A tummy tuck can remove loose, excess skin and fat, and tighten weak fascia. A tummy tuck can also remove stretch marks and excess skin in the lower abdomen below the belly button. However, a tummy tuck won’t correct stretch marks outside of this area.
If you’ve previously had a C-section, your plastic surgeon might be able to incorporate your existing C-section scar into your tummy tuck scar.
A tummy tuck can also be done in combination with other body contouring cosmetic procedures, such as breast surgery. If you’ve had fat removed from your abdomen (liposuction), you may decide to have a tummy tuck because liposuction removes tissue just under the skin and fat but not any excess skin.
A tummy tuck isn’t for everyone. Your doctor might caution against a tummy tuck if you:
Initially, you’ll talk to a plastic surgeon about a tummy tuck. During your first visit, your plastic surgeon will likely:
Be prepared to answer questions about current and past medical conditions. Talk about any medications you’re taking or you have taken recently, as well as any surgeries you’ve had.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications. If your desire for a tummy tuck is related to weight loss, your doctor will likely ask detailed questions about your weight gain and loss.
To determine your treatment options, the doctor will examine your abdomen. The doctor might also take pictures of your abdomen for your medical record.
Explain why you want a tummy tuck, and what you’re hoping for in terms of appearance after the procedure. Make sure you understand the benefits and risks, including scarring.
Keep in mind that previous abdominal surgery might limit your results.
Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. In addition, smoking increases the risk of tissue damage. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking before surgery and during recovery.
You’ll likely need to avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs, and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
Ideally, you’ll maintain a stable weight for at least 12 months before having a tummy tuck. If you’re severely overweight, your doctor will recommend that you lose weight before the procedure. Significant weight loss after the procedure can diminish your results.
Shortly before your tummy tuck, you’ll need to begin taking an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting.
Make plans for someone to drive you home after you leave the hospital and stay with you for at least the first night of your recovery at home.
By removing excess skin and fat and strengthening your abdominal wall, a tummy tuck can give your abdomen a more toned and slimmer appearance. Tummy tuck results are usually long-lasting if you maintain a stable weight.