One of the most commonly sought-after cosmetic surgeries here at Shaw Plastic Surgery is the tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). Tummy tuck surgery is designed to recontour the abdominal area for a firmer, flatter, and smoother appearance. This treatment removes excess skin that has collected in the abdominal region, pulls the underlying muscles taut (when necessary), and tightens the remaining skin to provide a more fit look. Our board-certified plastic surgeon, James M. Shaw, MD, can help you successfully renew your body contours with this popular and effective procedure.
Tummy tuck surgery is only surpassed by liposuction and breast augmentation as the most commonly performed cosmetic surgeries performed every year in the U.S. Tummy tuck results are immediate and easily recognized—much the same as with breast augmentation. The many benefits offered by tummy tuck surgery explain why this procedure is so popular among both women and men. Advantages of tummy tuck surgery include:
A tummy tuck can be particularly beneficial for patients who are experiencing lax, excess skin in the abdomen following significant weight loss or pregnancy. Abdominoplasty can be an ideal procedure on its own, or it can be combined with other advanced treatments for a more comprehensive rejuvenation. In fact, tummy tuck surgery is often selected for inclusion as part of a full Mommy Makeover for patients who would like to restore their pre-pregnancy figures.
During your initial consultation with Dr. Shaw, he will evaluate your concerns and help you determine whether tummy tuck surgery is the best option for your needs.
Adult women and men who are experiencing an excess of loose skin and fat, as well as lax musculature, in the abdomen are often good candidates for tummy tuck surgery. A tummy tuck can significantly rejuvenate and recontour the abdomen for many individuals who experience these effects. These concerns are often caused by pregnancy, weight fluctuation, excessive weight loss, genetic predisposition, the natural aging process, or other factors. Patients considering this procedure must be in good general health, and must be non-smokers (or prepared to stop smoking for several weeks prior to surgery and after the operation).
The majority of Dr. Shaw’s patients are seeking improvement in abdominal contour; however, many patients are also trying to improve the appearance of skin that has stretch marks. This very common skin condition typically results when expansion, either due to pregnancy or weight gain, occurs more rapidly than the skin can accommodate. The deeper layers of the skin tear and then heal by making a thin scar. Once this happens, the natural elasticity of the skin is permanently gone. With a tummy tuck, stretch marks on the lower portion of the abdomen can be removed. Unfortunately, stretch marks that are too high on the abdomen or too far to the sides will not be eliminated. In these cases, Dr. Shaw can talk with you about other procedures, such as platelet-rich plasma therapy, that may serve as ideal options to address those areas.
There are several differences between tummy tuck surgery and liposuction, which is another very popular procedure utilized for body contouring. Tummy tuck surgery is typically recommended in cases of excess skin and/or lax muscles in the abdominal region. The procedure pulls underlying abdominal muscles taut and removes the excess skin, followed by tightening of the remaining skin to produce a much firmer look with an enhanced contour. Liposuction is not designed with those capabilities. Instead, liposuction removes excess fat, which may be contributing to the concerns in the abdomen. In cases where the concerns are predominantly caused by excess fat, liposuction may be the only treatment necessary for the desired results. However, a large number of patients who undergo tummy tuck surgery also benefit from some degree of liposuction performed in tandem with the tummy tuck procedure to provide the best possible results. When you meet with Dr. Shaw for your initial evaluation, he can recommend whether tummy tuck surgery, liposuction, or both of these options in combination will be the most ideal treatment plan.
Tummy tucks are typically performed by our plastic surgeon under general anesthesia at an outpatient surgery center. Your anesthesia provider is also board-certified and will be immediately available at all times. After the anesthesia wears off, you can go home the same day, but you will need a responsible adult to drive for you.
The skin incision starts low, like a C-section scar, and extends out to the sides, curving above the front bones of the pelvis. Shorter scars are sometimes possible, but far less skin can be removed with a shorter scar. Typically, most or all of the skin below the belly button will be removed and the upper skin is pulled down tight, similar to pulling down a window shade. The belly button will remain in its current location and a new opening for it will be made after the skin is pulled tight.
Drains may or may not be needed following surgery, depending on each patient’s situation. If placed, drains will be removed during the first or second office visit after surgery.
Most patients have liposuction of the upper abdomen at the same time as tummy tuck surgery. Many individuals add additional areas of liposuction so that everything can be done during the same surgery. Dr. Shaw will talk with you about your needs during the initial consultation and help you decide whether liposuction in addition to tummy tuck surgery will be necessary to fulfill your overall treatment goals.
A tummy tuck is a fairly big surgery with a fairly long incision. Some patients may prefer to have a mini-tummy tuck. The mini-tummy tuck is a less aggressive approach and allows for skin tightening below the belly button only. There is no skin tightening above the belly button and much less tightening toward the sides of the abdomen. The skin incision is shorter, but not substantially shorter. Not very many patients are truly good candidates for a mini-tummy tuck as opposed to a full abdominoplasty. Unfortunately, the compromise for less surgery is a less obvious result.
Patients are usually very pleased with the immediate change that has occurred with their tummy tuck. During the surgery, the skin is pulled very tightly. It is typical to walk with a bend at the waist for the first five to seven days. For comfort, it is best to be in a flexed position, similar to a recliner, where the back, shoulders, and head are elevated and the knees and hips are flexed. You will need to be up walking the day of surgery. In the beginning, you may need someone to help with getting out of bed and to the bathroom. Walking helps to reduce the chances of forming blood clots in the legs. Also, it is recommended that you move your ankles up and down several times an hour while you are awake. You will have a compression garment to wear after surgery. This is usually a wide elastic band with Velcro®. The compression garment usually feels better while moving about. It does not need to be uncomfortably tight. Wearing the garment does not “mold” or “shape” your abdomen. Feel free to loosen or remove it if it is uncomfortable.
Activity restriction should be strict the first week. You should stay home for the first week and get up and move around frequently when awake. It is OK to shower, but do not submerge the incisions in a bath or pool. Don’t do any housework, yardwork, or running of errands during this time. After about one week, most patients are able to return to work or school, or to resume running errands. You should avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity and exercise for at least the first month following surgery.
The most common side effects of tummy tuck surgery include swelling, bruising, numbness, and soreness in the treatment area. It will take several days for the swelling to significantly dissipate. Discomfort during the recovery period can be managed with medication. It is very important to closely follow the post-operative instructions that will be provided to you, and to adhere to all of Dr. Shaw’s recommendations for aftercare. These guidelines can help you achieve a safe healing process and the smoothest recovery possible.
A full tummy tuck surgery involves an incision made above the pubic area that stretches from one hip to the other, in addition to an incision for the relocation of the belly button. These incisions will result in noticeable scarring; however, Dr. Shaw is extensively experienced with tummy tuck procedures and will work diligently to minimize the residual scars. Also, the scars from abdominoplasty are typically able to be concealed under clothing (even swimwear). In addition, tummy tuck scars often fade over time to a certain degree. For many patients, the significant aesthetic benefits acquired by tummy tuck surgery are well worth the scarring that results from the procedure.
With consistent attention paid to maintaining good dietary and lifestyle habits, tummy tuck surgery results can last many years into the future. It’s important to drink plenty of water and to minimize intake of drinks that are high in sugar. Reducing or eliminating alcohol consumption, exercising regularly, and adhering to a healthy diet regimen are all effective steps toward keeping your new abdominal contours for as long as possible.
Technically, it is possible for many women to have a normal pregnancy following tummy tuck surgery; however, Dr. Shaw typically advises patients to wait until their families are complete before undergoing this procedure. This is due to the fact that a pregnancy can reverse some of the benefits afforded by tummy tuck surgery since the abdominal muscles will likely become stretched. Excess skin may also accumulate in the abdominal region. To address these concerns, a secondary tummy tuck surgery may be necessary. For these reasons, Dr. Shaw usually recommends that patients have tummy tuck surgery after their final pregnancy so that results can be maintained.
Here at Shaw Plastic Surgery, the cost of a full tummy tuck surgery typically starts at about $5,700 for the surgery, anesthesia, and use of the operating facility. With that in mind, the total price of this procedure can vary among patients since the treatment is customized based on individual needs and goals. The overall cost of tummy tuck surgery will include the surgeon’s fee, anesthesia and operating facility fees, the complexity of the treatment, whether liposuction or other treatments are also being performed in conjunction with abdominoplasty, and other expenses associated with the procedure. Our practice firmly believes in providing patients with a total cost estimate at the very beginning that reflects all fees related to the treatment process. Once your treatment plan is created, a member of our staff will calculate the overall price estimate and go over all of the details with you. We are happy to answer any questions regarding the many payment methods we accept, and we can talk with you about plastic surgery financing options available through CareCredit®. This reputable lending firm offers a variety of monthly payment plans that can help qualified applicants pay for tummy tuck surgery in a way that is most convenient for their budgetary needs.
In terms of potential non-surgical tummy tuck alternatives, there are no options available that can produce results that are similar to what a surgical abdominoplasty can achieve. Numerous advertisements and articles may contend that a certain product or device, diet regimen, or exercise can help individuals obtain aesthetic outcomes that rival those that result from tummy tuck surgery; however, this is simply not possible. A tummy tuck surgically removes lax, inelastic skin and pulls the abdominal muscles taut (when necessary), which can address concerns that are typically characterized by undesired contours due to a protruding abdomen and/or loose, overhanging skin in the abdominal region. Surgical intervention is typically the only way to effectively resolve these concerns and address what cannot be improved through diet and exercise alone.
With this in mind, some individuals who want to improve abdominal aesthetics may have specific concerns that may benefit from an alternative surgical procedure if a tummy tuck is not necessary to achieve their goals. In some cases, the patient’s abdominal concerns may be primarily due to a collection of excess fat rather than loose skin. For these patients, liposuction alone may be all that is required to provide the desired results. Dr. Shaw will examine you during the initial consultation and talk with you about the treatments that can be most beneficial for your unique needs.
Do you have questions about tummy tuck surgery? The team at Shaw Plastic Surgery can help. Please contact our practice today for more information, or to schedule a consultation.