What to expect from tummy tuck surgery
During a tummy tuck, fat is removed throughout the entire abdominal contour using liposuction, excess skin and fat is removed from below the belly button to the bikini line, and the muscles of the abdomen are tightened. The goal of an abdominoplasty is to reduce excess fat and skin to achieve an abdomen that is thinner, flatter, tighter, and free of stretch marks. It is important to note that this is not a weight loss surgery, though a quantity of excess fat will typically be removed.
Your surgeon begins by performing liposuction throughout your abdomen and hips. Then an incision will be made around your belly button and just above the pubic hairline, and kept low following the natural contour of your hips. The skin and fat will then be separated from the underlying muscle. At this point, your surgeon will tighten the abdominal muscles by suturing them together (a process known as plication). Next, the skin is pulled down and excess skin and fat is removed. A new opening is then created for your navel and your surgeon may reposition your belly button, if necessary, before closing up the incisions. Our surgeons also typically perform highly specialized drainless surgery, meaning that no uncomfortable drains are needed after the procedure, easing and hastening recovery, and minimizing complications.
This procedure takes approximately 2.5 hours, but the time will vary based on the scope of tummy tuck.
After surgery, you’ll be provided a compression garment and be required to wear this garment for approximately 6 weeks. Avoid strenuous activities and exercise until your surgeon gives you the go ahead. We suggest arranging 2 weeks off work for your initial recovery and allow 3-6 months for full recovery.
Pre- & post-surgery
The info you need to plan your tummy tuck surgery.
Frequently asked questions
- What is tummy tuck recovery like?
Abdominoplasty is an outpatient procedure (in most cases) that uses general anesthesia. Post-surgery, you’ll need someone to drive you home and stay with you for the first day or two as you recover.
Our surgeons perform the procedure in a way that avoids the use of surgical drains and most sutures are hidden under the skin and will dissolve, minimizing patient discomfort. After surgery, you receive detailed instructions on how to care for your incisions, when you can shower, foods and medications to avoid, and when to wear a special compression garment.
Discomfort can be managed with prescription and over-the-counter pain medications. Most patients take about 2 weeks off work. Although you should restrict your activity for the first 1 to 2 weeks, it’s important to begin walking soon after your procedure to promote healing. You can gradually resume more activity in the subsequent weeks, with most patients returning to exercise, like yoga, spinning, weight lifting, jogging, after about 6 weeks.
- How do I know whether I need liposuction or a tummy tuck?
Both surgeries change the appearance of your abdomen, but have different functions. In a tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon removes both fat and stretched skin that results after weight loss or pregnancy. He or she also repairs damaged and stretched abdominal muscles that may be bulging outward. An abdominoplasty is not a weight loss surgery.
In liposuction, your surgeon suctions away only fat through tiny incisions. If you do not have loose skin on your abdomen and are merely struggling to lose fat in that region, liposuction may be a good choice for you. Dr. Silverman and Dr. Boyd frequently combine tummy tuck and liposuction during a single procedure to take care of both concerns at once.
- Can I get pregnant after a tummy tuck?
Although there is no physical or safety reason you can’t become pregnant and have a child after fully recovering from tummy tuck surgery, you should keep in mind that your cosmetic results might be affected and further cosmetic surgery might be required. Pregnancy may stretch the abdominal skin and muscles, just as it would with someone who has not had a tummy tuck. Everyone’s body responds to pregnancy differently, however, and many patients have enjoyed their surgical results for years before having another child. Your plastic surgeon can discuss this personal choice with you and help you come up with an option that fits into your plans.
- How long will my tummy tuck results last?
The results of your tummy tuck can last indefinitely if you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Many patients find that they feel renewed motivation to keep their bodies in great shape after abdominoplasty so they can continue to enjoy their results for many years.
- Which kind of tummy tuck is right for me?
Dr. Silverman and Dr. Boyd perform three styles of abdominoplasty: a mini tummy tuck, a full tummy tuck, and a procedure called a lower body lift or belt lipectomy that combines the tummy tuck with tissue excision from the sides and back. The full tummy tuck is the most common option and if you have loose, stretched skin, fat, and muscle laxity both above and below your belly button, this is likely the best choice for you.
During a consultation, Dr. Silverman or Dr. Boyd will evaluate your body and make a recommendation about the option that will best serve your cosmetic goals.
If your stretched tissue is only below your belly button, you may be a candidate for a mini tummy tuck, which has a shorter scar and does not address the belly button.
If you have lost a significant amount of weight and have loose skin on abdomen, flanks, backs, upper thighs, and buttocks, we offer a lower body lift, a procedure that is part of our post-weight loss body contouring options.
- Can a tummy tuck be combined with other surgery?
Yes. You can combine your tummy tuck surgery with liposuction and other body and breast surgeries. Combining procedures cuts down recovery time and helps you achieve a more convenient transformation.
This is common for post-weight loss patients, as well as for mothers who want to reverse some of the cosmetic effects of pregnancy. This procedure, often called a “mommy makeover,” can incorporate a tummy tuck with liposuction, a breast lift or augmentation, or other options simultaneously.
During your consultation, your surgeon can discuss combining procedures and recommend a treatment plan that safely addresses all your cosmetic goals.
- What will my scars look like?
This depends on the type of tummy tuck you get. For a full tummy tuck, the scar runs from hip to hip just above the pubic region. Dr. Silverman and Dr. Boyd are careful to place the incision low enough that it is hidden below the line of clothing or a swimsuit. There may also be a scar within the belly button. Dr. Silverman and Dr. Boyd use precise surgical techniques that ensure the incisions are very fine, and our team provides you with detailed aftercare instructions to help your scars heal and fade quickly. For a mini tuck, the scar is shorter, usually not reaching all the way to the hips, and there is no belly button incision. Patients who get a full body lift have more extensive scars.