also known as tummy tuck
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 bellybutton 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:
Significant changes in weight
Abdominal surgery, such as a C-section
Your natural body type
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 bellybutton. 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:
Plan to lose a significant amount of weight
Might consider future pregnancy
Have a severe chronic condition, such as heart disease or diabetes
Have a body mass index that’s greater than 30
Are a smoker
Had a previous abdominal surgery that caused significant scar tissue
How you prepare
How you prepare During your first visit
Review your medical history. 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.
Do a physical exam. To determine your treatment options, the doctor will examine your abdomen. The doctor might also take pictures of your abdomen for your medical record.
Discuss your expectations. 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.
Before a tummy tuck you might also need to:
Stop smoking. 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.
Avoid certain medications. You’ll likely need to avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
Maintain a stable weight. 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.
Take medication to prevent complications. Shortly before your tummy tuck, you’ll need to begin taking an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting.
Arrange for help during recovery. 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.