Childbearing can be a beautiful experience, and massive weight loss is a significant achievement. These life experiences are remarkable, but both often come with physical changes that are difficult to reverse. Pregnancy typically results in excess belly skin, stubborn fat deposits, and irreversible damage to the abdominal wall structure. While diet and exercise can provide some improvement to the midsection, much of the aftermath of pregnancy, and following massive weight loss, is impossible to repair by going to the gym or eating a healthy diet. Fortunately, I can correct the changes one experiences post-pregnancy and weight loss, such as loose or hanging belly skin, persistent pockets of fat, and weakened muscles with abdominoplasty surgery, commonly known as a “tummy tuck.”
Ideal candidates for “tummy tuck” surgery are individuals who can relate to any of these abdominal concerns:
- Loose or excess skin
- Protruding abdomen
- Stubborn fat deposits
“Tummy Tuck” Procedure
“Full” Tummy Tuck
- This technique involves muscle repair, skin excision, and abdominal liposuction.
- A full tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia as follows:
- After anesthesia in the O.R., an elliptical incision is drawn on the abdomen to include the skin and fat of the lower abdomen, which is then removed up to the belly button.
- The rectus muscles that weaken during pregnancy and weight gain are tightened.
- The tissues above the belly button are freed and pulled down to the pubic area, and two drains are placed.
- Liposuction is performed on the flanks and waist as needed.
“Mini” Tummy Tuck
- This technique involves minor skin excision of the lower abdomen without muscle repair; trunk liposuction can be done in addition.
- A “mini” tummy tuck is performed under local anesthesia with sedation to ensure a safer procedure, lower cost, and an easier recovery.
- The incision created is shorter than that of a full tummy tuck, and lies along the lower abdomen/pubic area.
- Overhanging lower abdominal skin and fat, down to the pubic area, is trimmed and tightened, usually with a combination of dissolvable and removable sutures; there are no drains.
“Midi” Tummy Tuck
- This is an intermediate surgery between the two extremes above, where the belly button is released, and the upper abdominal tissues are freed up and pulled down. The belly button is then brought back out through a new opening made in that upper skin when the lower abdominal wall is closed.
- For patients who do not have much muscle weakness, no muscle repair is done, so most patients can have this procedure under sedation and local anesthesia (saving risks and money).
- A drain is usually needed, and this, plus non-dissolving sutures in the closure can be removed in 7 to 10 days post-op.
- Liposuction can be combined with the “midi” tummy tuck as well.
“Full” Tummy Tuck
Because of the muscle repair, patients who undergo a full tummy tuck will stay overnight in the hospital. Patients will need to walk bent forward during recovery, avoid strenuous activities and stairs for at least 2 weeks, and wear compression garments as instructed. Drains will be placed during surgery and are removed 7 to 10 days after surgery. It is recommended for full tummy tuck patients to take 2 weeks off of work and avoid driving, especially while taking narcotic pain medication. After 4 to 6 weeks, regular exercise can be resumed.
“Mini” Tummy Tuck
Recovery after a mini tummy tuck is much quicker than that of a full tummy tuck. Patients can shower after 48 hours of recovery and replace their bandages. No drains or compression garments are required, but patients must wear a midriff band as instructed. Sutures are removed at about 10 days after surgery, and after 2 weeks, regular exercise can be resumed.
“Midi” Tummy Tuck
As might be expected, all recovery factors are intermediate between the above procedures. Drain and suture removal will be as with the full tummy tuck, and an abdominal binder must be worn for several weeks. Patients can resume most activities in 1 to 2 weeks, and exercise in 3 weeks.
Tummy Tuck FAQs
How much does tummy tuck surgery cost?
The cost of a tummy tuck surgery depends on the extent of correction needed, facility fees, anesthesia fees, geographical location, and technique. For example, the mini tummy tuck tends to cost half as much as a full tummy tuck, and it requires half the recovery time.
Can I combine my tummy tuck with other procedures?
Yes; tummy tuck surgery can be combined with several procedures to achieve optimal results. Many women opt for a procedure package called the “Mommy Makeover” to address multiple pregnancy-related effects on the body. A Mommy Makeover may include a tummy tuck in combination with any or all of the following procedures:
How do I prepare for tummy tuck surgery?
I will provide you with detailed preoperative and postoperative instructions tailored to your surgical plan. Some tummy tuck preparatory guidelines are as follows:
- Stop smoking and using tobacco/nicotine products at least three weeks before surgery.
- Adopt and maintain a healthy, active lifestyle to promote healing and reduce health risks.
- Arrange for a family member or friend to help you during the initial stage of recovery, and to drive you to and from the surgery facility.
- Prepare meals ahead of time to avoid having to cook at the beginning of your recovery period, and clean your living space before surgery to avoid lifting, bending, vacuuming, etc. for 10 days post-op.
- Fill all necessary prescriptions ahead of time, and refrain from using aspirin, anti-inflammatories, herbals, omega 3’s (we will give you a comprehensive list) for at least a week prior to surgery to minimize risk of bleeding.
Will I have scars from my tummy tuck?
There is always a risk of scarring after any surgical procedure, but I am careful to place tummy tuck incisions in discreet locations where they can be concealed with clothing and undergarments. Scarring does tend to fade over time and become less noticeable, but everyone heals and forms scar tissue differently. Should scars thicken or raise, there are several forms of treatment available (simple massage starting soon after suture removal, laser treatment, etc.).