COSMETIC TOWN JOURNAL

Tummy Tucks

Phil Haeck, MD

January 31, 2017



There are many people who have weight loss as one of the major goals in their life.  Succeeding at losing the weight is a great feeling.  Unfortunately, there is sometimes a downside to weight loss involving excessive skin and fat remaining on the body.  One of the main solutions to this problem is having tummy tuck surgery.

 

WHAT EXACTLY IS A TUMMY TUCK?

Abdominoplasty, better known as tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgery procedure.  The procedure makes the abdomen firmer, as well as thinner, so the muscle of the abdominal wall will be tighter.  There are three main kinds of tummy tuck procedures:

  • Full abdominoplasty – The most common type involves changes in the abdomen most likely caused by pregnancy. Patients generally try to lose weight but they can't reestablish what their abdomen looked like before pregnancy.  Most likely their rectus muscles have split apart and they have stretch marks.

An incision is made from hip to hip that goes through the groin and the pubic area. The muscles are stitched back together and the extra skin fat is taken out in one piece. It's typically all across the lower abdomen.

  • A mini-abdominoplasty AKA a mini tummy tuck – Where extra skin is taken out of the bottom of the abdomen. No work is done on the muscles.
  • A panniculectomy – Needed when patients have massive weight loss, generally 100-150 pounds. The skin in their abdomen is hanging off and down towards their knees. This tummy tuck takes off the excess skin and leaves an incision that goes from hip to hip.

Having listed the main tummy tucks, there are still variations of the procedure. There’s a circumferential tummy tuck that goes all the way around. It takes off loose skin from the back while also lifting the buttocks and taking out additional skin.

There are also variations of where patients get their scars. For example, if a patient has major surgery that leaves a scar going up and down the middle of their abdomen and leaves extra skin it would be easier to take the skin out in the middle. Patients will get a new scar, but will have tighter skin and repaired muscles.

 

WHO IS, OR ISN'T, AN IDEAL PROCEDURE CANDIDATE?

The ideal candidate is a woman who’s had one or two pregnancies and is not going to have another one.  She’s close to her ideal weight but still has loose skin around her abdomen. Due to the pregnancy, the effect on the rectus muscles has her feeling she can't reestablish her old figure with diet and exercise.

There are others that might benefit from a tummy tuck.  People who are overweight or obese sometimes hope a tummy tuck will make them thinner.   

There are those who have stretch marks from their pregnancy but don't have enough loose skin to get all of the stretch marks out. It's difficult for them to have work done except a possible mini-abdominoplasty.

Finally, this procedure is difficult for patients who smoke cigarettes or use nicotine to heal properly.  The incision sometimes doesn't heal correctly and might reopen after surgery.

 

HOW MUCH DOES A TUMMY TUCK COST?

The cost runs anywhere from $9,000-$14,000 for a tummy tuck.  The cost depends on the extent of the procedure, how long the operation is due to hourly charges for the operating room, and hourly charges for anesthesia.

 

LIMITATIONS OR SIDE EFFECTS AFTER THE TUMMY TUCK?

The limitations for this procedure are based on the recovery.  Patients can't vigorously use the rectus muscles afterwards because those muscles are stitched back together again. They can do cardio as soon as a month out but they can't do anything vigorous with their abdominal muscles for at least three months.

The risks associated with the tummy tuck are heavy scarring that's out of control and needs to be adjusted. There's going to be some permanent loss of feeling in the abdomen just above the scar.  There could be bleeding afterwards with blood accumulation under the skin and over the muscle.

Deep venous thrombosis, which is a blood clot in the veins may occur in the the venous system in the lower extremity (usually the calves). This complication is a little higher in tummy tucks than other abdominal surgery. If that blood clot breaks off and goes to the lungs, the result is death.

 

HOW LONG IS THE RECOVERY TIME?

Working women will likely feel comfortable going back to work after two weeks.  Most people are off pain medication after the first week.  At four weeks, they can return to cardio.

 

CONCLUSION

Tummy tuck procedures are the extra help that patients may need to reach their ideal weight goal. This procedure removes extra fat and skin helping achieve the flat tummy, people dream of. Keep in mind that tummy tucks are usually a last resort and the first thing one should try is to lose weight by diet and exercise.

 

Written by Cosmetic Town Editorial Team based on an exclusive interview provided by Dr. Phil Haeck in Seattle, WA.

Article Last Updated on January 31, 2017

Phil Haeck, MD

January 31, 2017

Before After
Tummy Tuck
This patient received a tummy tuck procedure to enhance her body contour.
Before After
Tummy Tuck
This patient received a tummy tuck procedure to enhance her body contour.
Before After
Tummy Tuck
This patient received a tummy tuck procedure to enhance her body contour.