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Plastic Surgery Center Blog

What is a tummy tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, removes excess fat and skin and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer. The procedure is a common one and can benefit men and women who are bothered by a protruding abdomen.

A flat and well-toned abdomen is something many of us strive for through exercise and weight-control. Sometimes these methods cannot achieve our goals.

Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include:

  • Aging

  • Heredity

  • Pregnancy

  • Prior surgery

  • Significant fluctuations in weight

For those who have experienced a massive weight loss, their only alternative to lose overhanging skin is surgery. Many patients combine their tummy tuck with other cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation or breast reduction surgery.

The Procedure

There are three basic techniques used to flatten a protuberant abdomen. The best technique for you will depend largely on your goals and your specific problem.

Liposuction alone can produce a thin abdominal wall for some. If your laxity and excess skin is below your navel, a mini tummy tuck may be right for you. For those with severe laxity of their abdominal muscle or excessive skin, a full tummy tuck may be their only solution.

A tummy tuck is usually performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia with the patient asleep, or with spinal anesthesia.

Regardless of which procedure you have, your incisions are closed with small sutures. Small drains may also be inserted to eliminate fluid buildup. Snug elastic bandages are then applied to the area.


Most patients experience some numbness in the area of their abdomen, which may last as long as a year. Any pain or discomfort that follows surgery can be controlled with oral medication. If drains are used, they may remain in place for three to seven days until discharge fluids decrease. Sutures will be removed in 1-2 weeks; however, your bandages may remain a little longer. A special abdominal support garment is often necessary for several weeks. There will be some scarring that will fade significantly over time. During your recovery you must refrain from any strenuous activity or lifting. Most patients are back to work within one to three weeks depending on the degree of surgery. Your surgeon will decide when you can resume normal activities.

*Keep in mind that while a tummy tuck will enhance your figure and your self-confidence, it’s not likely to change your life or the way people treat you. During your private consultation with your surgeon, you should explain your goals and expectations of the surgery. Your surgeon will assess the nature of your abdomen, your expectations and explain the probable outcome of your procedure.

What tummy tuck surgery can't do

A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program.

Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies would be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.

A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised.

If you have wondered if you could benefit from a tummy tuck, call our office to arrange a private consultation with Dr. Russell Stokes (Board Certified-American Board of Plastic Surgery) at 1-855-294-BODY (2639) or to learn more visit our website

Results can be quite dramatic, and patients love their slimmer, trimmer figures and flatter abdomens!

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