Am I a Candidate for Tummy Tuck?

Posted March 03, 2017
Who is an ideal candidate for tummy tuck?

Tummy tuck AKA abdominoplasty is a surgery that enhances and improves the appearance of the abdomen. The surgery involves the removal of excess fat and skin from the area of the lower and middle abdomen in order to tighten muscles that are either separated or weakened. The result is a more contoured and smoother appearance to the abdomen. A tummy tuck is often combined with other surgical procedures to provide greater changes across the body. Some of the procedures that can be performed in combination with tummy tuck include:

Good Reasons for Tummy Tuck

  1. Get rid of excess skin and fat
  2. Tighten the abdominal muscles
  3. Increased self-image
  4. Get a more contoured and slender appearance
  5. Reduce the appearance of stretch marks

Bad Candidates for Tummy Tuck

  1. People who don’t have enough time to take off work for recovery
  2. Patients who are not in general good health
  3. Those who see it as a weight loss procedure
  4. Patients who plan on becoming pregnant
  5. People who are having the procedure to make someone else happy

Cost Expectations

The cost of a tummy tuck is determined by the abdominoplasty technique performed by the doctor. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a tummy tuck is $5502 as of 2015. The total price can be higher depending on the type of tummy tuck performed, anesthesia fees, the area of the country where the surgery takes place, any facility fees and if the tummy tuck is combined with another procedure.

Choosing the Type of Tummy Tuck

There are a number of tummy tuck techniques available to patients and they include:

  • Traditional Tummy Tuck – The most common form of tummy tuck surgery involves the creation of a horizontal incision just above the pubic hairline. The length of the incision is determined by the total amount of excess skin that needs to be addressed by the surgeon. The skin is dissected in an upward motion towards the rib cage. The surgeon removes the excess skin, repositions the belly button and tightens the muscles.
  • Endoscopic Tummy Tuck – Several small incisions are made by the surgeon while using an endoscope to help place the incisions. The incisions are made along the pubic bone area as well in, or near, the belly button so any scars can be easily concealed. The abdominal muscles are tightened and sutured into place.
  • Mini Tummy TuckA technique that is ideal for patients who are within 10\\\\\% of their ideal body weight. It is designed to make changes only to the abdomen area that is located below the navel. The incision length depends on the total amount of skin that needs to be removed. Once the excess fat has been removed, the abdominal muscles are tightened and the skin is stretched in a downward motion so it can be stitched into place. As opposed to a traditional tummy tuck, there is no need for the surgeon to reposition the navel when performing this technique. This technique results in less scarring for the patient.
  • Circumferential Tummy Tuck – A form of tummy tuck also known as a lower body lift. It is most often performed on patients who have undergone a large weight loss and have skin that is loose and hanging over their entire body. The incision goes all the way around the waist line of the patient in order to remove the excess fat and skin through liposuction and other surgical methods. The figure of the patient is contoured on both the front and back of the body from the ribs down to the knees. The abdominal wall muscles are tightened and the belly button is repositioned. Once the excess skin is removed, the incision is closed with sutures. The surgery scar can usually be hidden by underwear.
  • Extended Tummy Tuck – This technique is a good option for patients who want to reshape their figures after undergoing a large weight loss. The excess skin is removed from the sides of the patient in order to improve the laxity of muscles located at the hips and the flank (commonly known as “love handles”).  The incision runs through the entire length of the abdomen and then to the back of the patient’s hips. A new navel is created along with the tightening of the muscles. The incision is closed with sutures once the excess skin has been removed from the abdomen.

Risks and Complications

Patients need to be aware of the potential risks and complications of having a tummy tuck. Some of these risks and complications include:

  1. Scarring
  2. Infection
  3. Slow wound healing
  4. Hematoma
  5. Scarring
  6. Blood clots
  7. Numbness or loss of sensation
  8. Swelling

Recovery Information

The amount of time it takes a patient to recover from a tummy tuck depends on the technique performed as well as the extent of the treatment.

  • Following a traditional tummy tuck, patients will need to miss work for at least 2 weeks although it may take up to 6 weeks for proper recovery time. Patients will require help getting around during the recovery period. Moderate walking is allowed but any strenuous physical activity is discouraged. Many patients have drains placed to get rid of any post-surgery discharge and they also need to wear a compression garment for an amount of time dictated by the surgeon. Showering is not allowed for 2 or 3 days but sponge baths are allowed.
  • The recovery from an endoscopic tummy tuck involves less swelling and bleeding than the traditional method. Patients might have some discomfort but normally resume regular activities within 1 to 2 weeks.
  • The recovery from a mini tummy tuck involves some pain on the part of the patient but is not as extensive as other techniques. After a mini tummy tuck, patients can normally return to work a few days after surgery.
  • The circumferential tummy tuck recovery period is longer than other tummy tuck techniques. Patients will need to stay in the hospital for 3 or 4 nights after the surgery as well as wear drains for 1 or 2 weeks to prevent the accumulation of fluid. There will be some swelling and bruising after the surgery as well as some pain. Patients need to take slow walks to prevent blood clots from forming.  In general, it takes 2 to 4 weeks before patients can resume normal activities.
  • Patients are required to stay in the hospital at least one night after an extended tummy tuck. Drains are placed to prevent fluid from accumulating and to allow proper incision healing. Pain medication will be given to take care of any discomfort. Patients need help getting around once they return home. They cannot shower until the drains are removed. The majority of any swelling and bruising will resolve after 6 (or so) weeks. Light activity can be resumed after 2 weeks.

Tummy Tuck Results

The final results of a tummy tuck vary according to the technique performed on the patient. In general, it can take up to a year for the final results to be visible. Further weight loss or weight gain will stretch the skin and may alter the results. Patients who follow a healthy diet and exercise regularly normally see their results last for many years.



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