Tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a major surgical procedure designed to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen, and tighten the abdominal wall muscles. The procedure usually results in a flatter, tighter abdominal area where fitted clothing and bathing suits can be worn with confidence.
While a full tummy tuck tightens and recontours the entire abdomen (from the pubic line to the bra line), a mini abdominoplasty focuses only on the lower abdomen—mainly improving the area between the pubic line and belly button. Since a mini tummy tuck is a less extensive surgery than a full tummy tuck, recovery time is generally shorter, and the procedure usually leaves a smaller scar.
Candidates for a standard abdominoplasty are men and women who are healthy, but bothered by loose skin, stretched abdominal muscles, and excess fat affecting the appearance of the midsection both above and below the belly button.
The procedure is most commonly performed on women who, after multiple pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point they can return to normal naturally. Patients who plan future pregnancies or significant weight loss should typically postpone surgery.
Tummy tuck and liposuction are both surgical procedures that can provide very effective results for patients who would like to recontour the abdominal area; however, there are several distinctions between these two techniques. Liposuction is capable of removing excess fat that has developed in pockets surrounding the abdomen. If excess fat pockets are the primary source of the concern, liposuction may be all that’s required to achieve satisfactory results. However, liposuction cannot effectively remove or tighten loose, excess skin. A tummy tuck is typically recommended in cases where the aesthetic concerns are due in large part to a collection of excess skin in the abdomen, as well as abdominal muscles that have become stretched and/or torn. Tummy tuck surgery can resolve these conditions by removing the extra skin, tightening the muscles, and redraping the remaining skin to provide significantly improved abdominal contours.
For patients who are affected by a collection of excess skin and fat in the abdominal region, a combination of tummy tuck surgery and liposuction may be recommended to achieve the best possible results. Dr. Matas will talk with you about your options once he has examined you during the initial consultation and help you determine the best solution for your goals.
At your initial consultation, board-certified plastic surgeon James Matas, MD will discuss your goals and motivations for surgery, along with assessing your physical and emotional health and reviewing information you provide about previous surgeries and pregnancies, past and current medical conditions, as well as nutritional supplements, herbal remedies and pharmaceutical medications you take.
Dr. Matas will examine your abdominal region, assessing the amount of fat and loose skin you have. He will explain factors that may affect the outcome, along with the risks and benefits of the procedure.
Depending on your specific needs, goals and overall health, Dr. Matas may require you to take certain steps before surgery, including guidelines on eating, drinking, smoking and taking certain medications and vitamins. When necessary, he may ask you to lose weight before the procedure is performed to obtain best results.
First, an incision is made which extends from hip bone to hip bone and is just above the pubic area. An additional incision is made around the navel. Then, the skin and accompanying fat is lifted to access the muscles of the abdominal wall, which run from pubic hairline to just below the bra line. These muscles are brought together and tightened by permanent sutures. The skin, with attached fat, is stretched down and removed. The navel is then repositioned and stitched into place. Finally, the incisions are brought together with several layers of sutures and surgical tapes.
In a “mini” tummy tuck, the skin is separated between the incision line and the navel. The skin and accompanying fat is stretched down, excess skin is removed and then stitched into place.
Abdominoplasty surgery usually takes three to four hours to complete, and is performed under general anesthesia. An overnight stay is necessary, with our specially-trained registered nurse responsible for your care until you are discharged the following morning.
For the first few days, your abdominal muscles will be extremely tight, with swelling, pain and discomfort, and you may find it difficult to stand up straight during this time. Over the first week, all support staples and sutures will be removed from your abdomen. You will be wearing an abdominal binder for support during the next few weeks.
Over several weeks, our licensed massage therapist will use a special massage technique to reduce your swelling and increase your mobility.
In two weeks, you can usually go back to light work. After several weeks, bruising and swelling will subside and you may gradually increase your activity and exercise. Vigorous exercise is to be avoided for six to eight weeks.
Usually extending from hip to hip, scars are an inevitable aspect of tummy tuck surgery; however, certain steps can be taken to help conceal their appearance and minimize their prominence over time. During surgery, Dr. Matas is careful to place the incision for abdominoplasty in a position that can be hidden under most clothing and bathing suits. In addition, your post-operative “patient care kit” will include a silicone-based scar reducer with SPF 30 that is highly effective when used as directed.
In the initial months following surgery, your scars will likely appear red, but the tissue should lighten in color and flatten within the first year. It is important to protect your scars from the sun and tanning beds for at least one year to prevent them from darkening.
After abdominoplasty, your abdomen will be flatter and tighter. You’ll be thrilled during your first shopping trip to find you fit into clothing and bathing suits you’ve had trouble wearing before! And the results of abdominoplasty are typically permanent if you do not gain an excessive amount of weight in the future.
“Dr. Matas, Thank you once again for all your help and kindness. I also want to reiterate how professional your staff was. You nurse stayed in touch with me and kept me informed at all times; calling me on Sundays and after hours, such as on the night of my surgery. I am sure it is a part of her job description; however, truly dependable and efficient employees are a rarity these days! You are not only a prodigious and an adroit doctor, but you are simply the best!”
While it is possible for many women to have a normal pregnancy after they have had tummy tuck surgery, Dr. Matas recommends waiting to undergo the procedure until they have decided their families are complete. The reason for this is mainly due to the fact that tummy tuck surgery can often reverse the physical effects that pregnancy can cause in the abdominal area. If a patient becomes pregnant after abdominoplasty has been performed, the underlying muscles can become stretched or torn again and excess skin may develop, essentially necessitating a secondary tummy tuck procedure to effectively address the concerns. To avoid this possibility, Dr. Matas typically advises patients to wait until after they no longer plan to have children in the future so that outcomes will not be compromised.
There is currently no non-surgical procedure available that can effectively address all of the concerns that can be improved with tummy tuck surgery. While a number of claims have been made purporting to offer exercises, garments (such as the Tummy Tuck Belt®), or other methods of achieving results that are similar to abdominoplasty, these options are simply not capable of removing excess skin or repairing stretched and torn abdominal muscles. A tummy tuck is specifically designed to restore the muscles and pull them taut while surgically removing inelastic skin. The remaining skin is then tightened and the abdomen recontoured, which can provide a particular kind of result that no other non-surgical approach can achieve.
The approximate price range for a tummy tuck is $8,000 to $10,000 at our Orlando practice; however, the exact cost of your abdominoplasty may be different based on the unique details of your surgical plan. For every tummy tuck, Dr. Matas must consider a variety of factors, including:
If you would like to know more about how much your tummy tuck procedure would cost, we encourage you to take advantage of our free cost analysis option or schedule a one-on-one consultation with Dr. Matas. After your consultation, a knowledgeable member of our office team can discuss payment arrangements and financing options with you. Qualified applicants may choose to use CareCredit®, a third-party lender, for loan options and flexible installment plans that can make paying for treatment more convenient and affordable.
If you are considering a tummy tuck or another type of body contouring surgery and want to find out if you are a good candidate, please contact our practice.