American Society of Plastic Surgeons
For Medical Professionals

Helping to demystify the tummy tuck

helping to demystify the tummy tuck

One of the most popular procedures in plastic surgery is the tummy tuck. However, it is also one of the most misunderstood procedures.

A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure designed to correct the contour of the abdomen. This surgery is popular among both men and women after significant changes in weight, which can result in loose, sagging abdominal skin. It is also commonly part of a mommy makeover, a popular combination of breast and body procedures designed to rejuvenate a woman's body after changes caused by pregnancy.

The tummy tuck procedure

A tummy tuck is typically an outpatient procedure and generally takes about two hours. That said, every tummy tuck is unique and the procedure time can vary, especially if your procedure is combined with additional surgeries.

The surgery involves an incision in the lower part of the abdomen, often below or in line with the waistline. If there is an existing C-section scar, the tummy tuck scar can be placed below or in line with that.

Skin is released from the lower part of the abdomen up to the belly button, an incision is made around the belly button and the skin is then released to the top of the abdomen. This access allows tightening of the muscles in the middle and restoration of the flat contour of the abdomen. The skin is gently redraped and trimmed and the belly button is delivered through the skin before the incision is closed. Viola... tummy tuck complete!

The tummy tuck recovery

For most patients, a couple of drains are placed before the skin is closed. These remain in until the fluid they are draining is effectively gone. The fluid is blood for the first day or so, then a straw-colored fluid at the time the drains are removed.

The drain is removed in the office in a matter of minutes. Some patients are candidates for a drainless tummy tuck, so be sure to ask your plastic surgeon about this option.

Patients are in a surgical girdle right after surgery that closes up the side like a clamshell so that it is easy to take on and off. After a couple of weeks, patients are transitioned to a different style of girdle, not unlike an adult onesie, and they will stay in that for a total of eight weeks.

Several patients have told me that the sensation of a tummy tuck is like doing 400 sit-ups at once – a sensation of aching muscles but not significantly painful. By about two weeks, most of my patients have the drains out and have been released to drive and return to work if their job is not too physical. By the end of the second month, barring any unforeseen consequences, they are back to their regular routines, albeit with a tight core and smaller waist.

Is a tummy tuck right for you?

Does this sound like it might be the right procedure for you? Most patients rave about their results after surgery. As with any surgical procedure, cosmetic or otherwise, be sure to discuss the risks and benefits with your surgeon. If you have been considering tummy tuck surgery and are ready to take the next step, be sure to use the ASPS Plastic Surgery Connect referral service service to find a board-certified plastic surgeon in your area and set up a consultation.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.


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