Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty)

Abdominoplasty, more commonly referred to as “tummy tuck,” is a cosmetic surgery procedure for men and women who wish to achieve a flatter, firmer midsection. It involves removing excess skin and fat from the stomach and, in many cases, tightening the abdominal muscles with sutures. The result is a tauter, more youthful stomach that looks great even in the most revealing swimwear.

Are You a Candidate?

Tummy tuck is not a weight-loss procedure. The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men and women who are at or near their ideal body weight but have excess, sagging skin and fat in their abdomen that does not respond to diet and exercise.

The persistence of stubborn stomach tissue may result from various causes, including:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Massive weight fluctuations
  • Skin inelasticity resulting from the aging process
  • Heredity

Tummy tuck may be performed on its own or in combination with other body-shaping procedures. It is often combined with breast lift and other procedures in women who have had children and wish to regain their pre-pregnancy figure. This treatment combination is known as mommy makeover.

Your Initial Consultation

To find out if you're a good candidate for a tummy tuck, your first step is to schedule a one-on-one consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. Be sure to choose a surgeon who is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. This level of certification ensures that your surgeon has received extensive training and experience and is held in high esteem by his or her colleagues.

During your consultation, your surgeon will ask you to describe concerns about your appearance and discuss your goals for surgery. He or she will also examine your abdominal skin and muscles and tell you what you need to know about tummy tuck. Your surgeon will most likely show you before and after tummy tuck photos to help you gain a clearer understanding of potential outcomes of surgery.

The Tummy Tuck Procedure

Abdominoplasty is typically performed under general anesthesia, though intravenous sedation combined with a local anesthetic may be an option. Your surgeon will help you decide what type of anesthesia is best for you.

Once the anesthesia is administered, your surgeon will make an incision from hip to hip just above your pubic area. An incision around your navel also may be required.

Your surgeon will then disconnect your skin from the underlying tissues, tighten the abdominal muscles with sutures and trim away excess skin and fat. Liposuction may be used to remove fat deposits. Once all these steps are concluded, your surgeon will close the incision. A drainage tube will likely be inserted to prevent the buildup of fluids beneath the skin.

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Recovery

Following tummy tuck surgery, your surgeon will apply bandages and dressings to your incision and may ask you to wear an elastic garment to help your skin adhere to the underlying tissues. If removable sutures are used, your surgeon will remove them in seven to 10 days. At that time, you should be able to resume many everyday activities, but you will need to avoid heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for at least four to six weeks. Be sure to follow all your surgeon's postoperative instructions carefully to avoid complications.

Risks

Tummy tuck risks include infection, bleeding and anesthesia-related complications (including death).  Other risks include blood clots that can travel to the lung (pulmonary embolism), tissue loss, insufficient wound healing and dissatisfaction with the cosmetic results. The best way to minimize risks is to be upfront with your surgeon about your lifestyle and medications, and follow his or her instructions carefully, including quitting smoking before and after surgery.

Tummy Tuck Cost

Your tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) cost will depend on various factors, including the extent of the procedure, the experience of your surgeon and your geographical location (plastic surgery is more expensive in densely populated metropolitan areas where demand is highest).

The overall price consists of three major costs: the surgeon's fee, the anesthesia fee and the facility (operating room) fee. Other costs of abdominoplasty include the price of bandages, medications and other medical supplies you will need following surgery.

The average surgeon's fee for tummy tuck in the United States is about $5,000. Anesthesia ranges from about $450 to $1,800. The facility fee can range from about $1,200 for an in-office procedure to $10,000 for an overnight hospital stay. Thus, the total cost of a tummy tuck can range from as low as $7,500 to as high as $17,500.

Related Procedures

If you are considering a tummy tuck, your surgeon may recommend other procedures in addition to, or instead of, abdominoplasty, including:

  • Panniculectomy – Some people who have undergone weight-loss surgery may find that despite the success of their procedure, they are left with a large amount of excess skin. In such cases, the plastic surgeon may recommend a panniculectomy, which involves the removal of drooping apron-shaped section of skin from the midsection.

  • Liposuction In this procedure, a narrow tube known as a cannula is inserted through small incisions in the skin to suck out subcutaneous fat deposits. Liposuction may be used instead of tummy tuck if your abdominal skin retains its elasticity and your underlying muscles are undamaged. It may also be used during tummy tuck for optimal results.

  • Abdominal etching – Abdominal etching is similar to liposuction. However, rather than removing fat deposits, the surgeon uses the cannula to create grooves in abdominal tissue to simulate the appearance of well-defined, "six-pack" abs.

  • Body lift This procedure involves the removal of excess, sagging skin and fat in the abdomen, sides and back. It differs from many tummy tuck procedures in that it does not include tightening of the abdominal muscles.

Getting Started

If you believe tummy tuck may be the right procedure to help you attain your body reshaping goals, visit our directory of board-certified plastic surgeons and find a highly skilled surgeon in your area.