949.945.0025 Appointment

Tummy Tuck Surgery: Everything You Need to Know Before Going Under

Published by Dr. Brandon Richland, MD

Are you unhappy with the way your abdomen looks?

A Tummy Tuck, medically known as abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery that improves the appearance of your stomach.

This article provides an overview of the tummy tuck process, its ideal candidates, risks and complications, recovery period, and post-op care for achieving the best results.

Key Takeaways of Tummy Tuck Surgery

  • A tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure that removes excess fat and skin from the abdomen.
  • The best candidates are individuals who are unhappy with fat buildup, loose abdominal skin, or those who have stretch marks they want to remove.
  • Preoperative instructions may include things like stopping non-prescription medications two weeks prior, quitting smoking, and abstaining from alcohol a week before the surgery to avoid any issues and complications.
  • Healthy diet, proper hydration and regular exercise help achieve and maintain the desired outcome after the operation.

Tummy tucks are one of the world’s most popular cosmetic surgeries to get the body you’ve always wanted.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat and tightens the muscles of the abdomen for better body contour. It is a good reconstructive surgery ideal for women who have kids and are not planning any future pregnancies.

Overview of the Tummy Tuck Procedure

Abdominoplasty is considered to be a major surgery designed to create a firmer and flatter abdominal wall profile.

The surgery typically begins with an incision along the lower part of the abdomen near your bikini line and continues around both sides of your waistline. The fat buildup is removed through liposuction or excision, while sutures may be used to bring weakened or separated muscles back into their original position below your navel.

After any necessary contouring is done, the remaining skin is tightened and secured. New incisions for drainage tubes may be created before bandaging up everything beneath a compression garment.

Tummy Tuck: Purpose and Benefits

The primary benefit of undergoing abdominoplasty is enhancing body image by removing stretch marks and creating a slim midsection appearance. Ultimately, it’s an effective way of resculpting a woman’s physique, bringing back confidence to her usual self.

Along with its aesthetic perks, this operation also has medical benefits. For instance, the surgery helps correct diastasis recti, wherein the abdominal muscles separate due to pregnancy or weight fluctuations.

It also reduces urinary incontinence, known as overactive bladder, by providing extra support for the surrounding abdominal organs. Moreover, it improves posture by strengthening core muscles and correcting spinal alignment.

Who are the Best Candidates for a Tummy Tuck?

Ideal candidates are those with weak abdominal muscles, excess fat buildup and loose skin due to aging or pregnancy.

Factors to Consider Before a Tummy Tuck Procedure

If you experience fluctuating weight or planning on a pregnancy months after the treatment, it’s important to know that this can make the aesthetic benefits disappear.

Another consideration is having past abdominal surgeries such as a C-section as this may limit the surgery’s extensiveness. It’s best to discuss with your doctor before planning for any additional abdominal procedures.

Factors such as age and natural body type might also influence whether desired results would be achieved from a typical tummy tuck alone. Speaking with an experienced plastic surgeon before the operation will help ensure success.

Ideal Candidates

Abdominoplasty is often an attractive option for people who have lost elasticity in the abdominal area caused by weight loss. Both men and women can be candidates if they meet certain weight and BMI requirements. They must be at a healthy, stable weight to ensure safety during the procedure.

Image Credit: Makalish / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Who Should Avoid a Tummy Tuck?

Preliminary evaluation by a qualified surgeon should be done by: patients with existing medical conditions, pregnant women, and smokers to determine suitability for the procedure.

Conditions or Circumstances Where a Tummy Tuck is Not Recommended

A tummy tuck is not recommended for people with poor health or those who experience weight fluctuations. Smokers are also not ideal candidates, as smoking can cause the body to heal slowly and increase the risk of post-op complications such as infection and tissue death along the incision site.

Pregnant women should wait until after pregnancy before undergoing treatment, as there may be changes in body shape after childbirth that require additional surgical intervention.

Those with certain medical conditions such as diabetes are at an increased risk of infections and necrosis (death) of tissue around the wound area.

Preparing for a Tummy Tuck Procedure

Preparations must be taken seriously to increase the probability of a successful plastic surgery.

Observe a Well-balanced Diet Before the Procedure

Maintaining a nutritious diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins is necessary to achieve the best results. Drinking ample amounts of fluids everyday leading up to the procedure is encouraged as this also helps speed up the recovery process.

It is highly recommended to quit smoking at least 6 weeks in advance and avoid alcohol consumption one week before the surgery. Doing this helps reduce complications and promotes faster healing.

Pre-Operative Instructions

Anyone preparing for a tummy tuck should have achieved and maintained their ideal weight goal for at least a year before. It is also recommended to stop taking any over-the-counter medicines two weeks before the surgery.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons provides helpful preparation guides for cosmetic surgeries to ensure safety and success. Some patients may need more preparation depending on age and medical history.

Step-by-Step Explanation of Tummy Tuck Procedure

The procedure begins with incisions in the lower abdomen, and then around the belly button, which sometimes continues to the waistline.

After these cuts, surgeons lift the extra skin and fat layers to access any weakened muscles located beneath them. These are then secured with sutures or mesh before removing any tightened muscles, excess skin, and fat. The remaining skin is repositioned for added support before closing with sutures.

A full tummy tuck helps patients not only achieve a smoother and firmer abdominal profile, but also restores the functionality lost due to overstretched or lax tissues and herniation caused by pregnancy or aging.

Type of Anesthesia Used in a Full and Mini Tummy Tuck

General anesthesia is often used to ensure patient comfort and minimize pain. The surgeon will administer the appropriate level of anesthesia according to each patient’s needs.

After the anesthetic has taken effect, small incisions are made to remove excess skin and fat between the belly button and pubic area. Closing these incisions uses non-permanent sutures, tape, or skin adhesives depending on what best suits the patient.

Image Credit: Gerain0812 / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Risks and Possible Complications of a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck can significantly improve a person’s external appearance but it comes with its own set of risks.

One of the most common risks is scarring. Although skilled surgeons will do their best to minimize scarring at the surgical site, some visibility may remain long term.

Bleeding (hematoma), infection, and blood clots are potential complications and may be treated with antibiotics or other medications or therapies. Another possible issue involves seroma, which occurs when fluid accumulates in pockets beneath the skin.

A qualified physician can reduce these risks and complications through proper pre and post-op care instructions.

Safety Tips and Post-Operative Care

The surgeon’s postoperative care instructions are crucial to recovery. These include taking prescribed medications, wearing compression garments that support the abdomen such as girdles or wraps, and avoiding strenuous activities.

To keep a good blood flow and prevent Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT), patients are required to move around and engage in light physical exercises instead of remaining in bed for long periods of time.

Proper wound care such as cleaning and dressing the incision sites regularly reduces the chances of infection. Patients should also make sure they get adequate rest, good water intake, and maintain a nutritional diet during this period.

What to Expect During the Recovery Period

The recovery period of a tummy tuck procedure typically lasts for six months to a year. The first three months is usually when the swelling and bruising subside.

How to Take Care of Yourself After the Surgery

An abdominal binder is necessary to wear for at least six weeks as it will provide support to the treated area and help prevent fluid buildup. Pain, swelling, and bruising can improve by three or four weeks into recovery and once this has occurred, it may no longer be necessary to wear an abdominal binder.

Still, it is common to experience tightness in the abdomen. Massages and doing exercises designed explicitly for post-tummy tucking patients can help alleviate stress and discomfort around the area. Strenuous activities such as weightlifting, running, other strenuous sports and exercise should be avoided during this time.

Avoid hot baths and only shower with warm water and mild cleansing agents. Rubbing or drying the incisions harshly should be avoided, but patting them dry after showering is acceptable. Moreover, fragrance-free creams or ointments can be applied over the incisions, and it is a must that any adverse reaction or speculated infections be immediately reported to your doctor if such occur upon applying these products on your skin’s surface layer.

Care for the belly button following its repositioning is crucial throughout the full healing process, which typically takes over a 6-months time frame. The patient should follow the physician’s care instructions as it will impact how well the scarring blends within its neighboring skin tissue, and would overall affect the desirable aesthetic outcome long-term.

Expected Outcomes and Timeline for Results

Patients are likely to see a difference in the appearance of their abdomen following complete tummy tuck recovery. It usually takes several weeks for the results to start becoming visible, and takes one year to fully heal.

Generally speaking, after about one month post-surgery, most patients can return to work and resume regular activities by 4-6 weeks. The duration of swelling may vary depending on each individual, but typically needs at least 6 months to fully subside. As for scarring, it may take several months up to a year to fully fade away.

Even with a successful operation, the longevity of abdominoplasty benefits depends on your maintenance through regular exercise and healthy dieting practices. Significant weight loss and/or gain may jeopardize lasting results.

Long-Term Effects of a Tummy Tuck

Long-term effects include improved abdominal definition, reduced excess skin on the midsection, and enhanced self-confidence. The results of this surgery are sometimes dramatic and provide improvements in body image that lasts long-term if the body is nurtured and well maintained.

Cosmetic surgeons will likely advise to practice a healthy diet and a regular exercise regime as these are important for maintaining optimal results.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tummy Tuck

1. What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a major surgery that removes extra fat and skin from the abdomen while tightening underlying muscles to give it better structure and shape. It improves your stomach’s appearance and aids in abdominal muscle strength and overall posture.

2. What are Some Reasons I Should Consider Getting a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck can be beneficial for those who wish to achieve a more toned look after a massive weight loss or pregnancy. It can reshape loose hanging skin in the abdomen, reduce low back pain due to stretched abdominal muscles, correct sagging stomach muscles caused by genetic aging, and correct weak rectus diastasis.

3. How Long Until I Can Return to My Everyday Activities After the Procedure?

After completing the recovery phase of typically 4 to 6 weeks depending on the extent of work performed, most individuals are cleared for light activities. Strenuous physical activities are best avoided up to at least 3 months.

4. What is a Mini Tummy Tuck?

A mini tummy tuck or mini abdominoplasty involves the same procedure and offers the same benefits as a full tummy tuck commonly done for patients who have a lower body mass index and have less fat buildup and extra skin to remove.

Image Credit: Peopleimages12 / 123RF.com (Licensed).

Conclusion and Summary of Tummy Tuck Surgery

A tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that reduces the appearance of excess skin and fatty tissue to enhance body shape. It also helps improve posture and alleviates abdominal stress caused by a previous pregnancy.

Understanding the full procedure and potential risks by speaking with your physician should help decide whether a tummy tuck surgery is optimal for your body.

While it shouldn’t be considered a solution for weight loss, a tummy tuck can boost self-esteem with its dramatic results.

Please note that this article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Before making any changes to your treatments, please consult with your healthcare provider to discuss the appropriateness and safety of such changes.

Ready For Your First-Class Cosmetic Experience in Orange County (OC) California (CA)?

Are you located in one of these Orange County (OC) / Southern California cities?

Aliso Viejo, Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Costa Mesa, Coto de Caza, Cypress, Dana Point, Fountain Valley, Fullerton, Garden Grove, Huntington Beach, Irvine, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Woods, Ladera Ranch, Lake Forest, Los Alamitos, Mission Viejo, Newport Beach, Orange, Placentia, Rancho Santa Margarita, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Santa Ana, Seal Beach, Stanton, Tustin, Villa Park, Westminster, or Yorba Linda?

Plastic Surgeon Dr. Brandon Richland, MD and our Cosmetic Aesthetics Team are ready to help you look and feel your absolute best.

Elevate your confidence and self esteem levels to unfathomable new heights!

Schedule your in-person consultation in our modern and luxurious offices in either Fountain Valley, CA (Main HQ) or our Newport Beach, CA office. 

Do you live outside of Southern California or short on time? For your convenience, Virtual Consultations are also available.

Our warm and engaging Team of carefully selected Aesthetics Professionals will make you feel calm, cool, collected, and right at home throughout your entire consultation and surgery process.

Schedule Your Aesthetics Consultation here, or call us directly at 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 today.

About the Author

Dr. Brandon Richland, MD is a respected Board Certified Licensed Plastic Surgeon in Orange County / Southern California specializing in cosmetic and reconstructive surgeries.

Driven by his passion for medicine, Dr. Richland obtained his Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree from the prestigious program at Saint Louis University (SLU) School of Medicine in 2013. His exceptional skills were recognized when he received the McGraw Hill / Lange Medical Student Academic Achievement Award, and graduated top of his class with Honors. For his undergraduate degree, he attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and graduated with Honors in 2009.

To further enhance his surgical expertise, Dr. Richland completed his Residency in Plastic Surgery at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) from 2013 to 2019 earning the Academic Achievement Award twice during this period. A total of 14 years in dedicated schooling and medical residency.

Dr. Richland is actively involved with healthcare and medical societies, as a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, and the California Society of Plastic Surgeons.

Contact Dr. Richland today by visiting RichlandMD.com, scheduling a cosmetic consultation, or by calling 714-241-0646 or 949-945-0025 directly.