Excess skin in the abdominal region is a common aesthetic issue experienced by many women and men. For females, a common cause is pregnancy—during which the skin of the abdomen stretches as the baby grows, typically remaining in excess after childbirth. The amount of redundant skin can vary widely, depending on the size of the baby, the amount of weight gain during pregnancy, and the total number of pregnancies. There is also likely some genetic component, which is a specific characteristic that is inherited from ancestors.
Another cause of skin stretching which affects both women and men is weight gain. This can occur due to slowing of metabolism with aging, over-eating, lack of physical activity, genetics, or a combination of these factors. If a person loses a notable amount of weight after a significant increase, an excess of skin is usually leftover. This is particularly common among individuals who undergo bariatric surgery.
While diet and exercise unfortunately have no effect on excess skin, the good news is that most individuals can find an effective solution in the form of a tummy tuck.
Tummy Tuck Quick Facts
- Remove loose, excess skin and repair stretched or torn musculature (if indicated) for a tighter, flatter abdominal contour
- About 2–4 hours
- General anesthesia or IV sedation with local anesthesia
- Typically outpatient
- Side Effects
- Temporary bruising, soreness, and swelling
- Return to non-strenuous work: 2–3 days; all restrictions lifted: approximately 3–4 weeks; scarring: gradual fading over several months to a year or more, particularly with good scar care
- Duration of Results
- What Is a Tummy Tuck?
- Tummy Tuck Candidates
- Types of Tummy Tucks
- Tummy Tuck Procedure
- Tummy Tuck Recovery
- Tummy Tuck Scar
- Tummy Tuck Cost
- Additional Tummy Tuck FAQs
View Our Patient Videos
What Is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck—also called abdominoplasty—is a procedure that involves the surgical removal of skin and fat from the abdomen. In some cases, stretched abdominal musculature is repaired and/or tightened as needed, and fat tissue and skin in the flank and hip area may also be removed.
Tummy tuck surgery and liposuction differ in that liposuction removes only fat, while a tummy tuck removes fat and skin. The techniques for abdominoplasty have advanced over the years, and in most patients, there is a noticeable improvement—the final result is generally a tighter, flatter, more toned midsection contour.
Goals of Abdominoplasty
- Eliminate excess abdominal skin and fat
- Repair stretched and/or torn abdominal musculature (when indicated)
- Get rid of the post-pregnancy and/or post-weight loss belly “pooch”
- Reduce back strain potentially caused by the weight of redundant abdominal skin and fat
- Enable patients to confidently wear swimsuits and tight-fitting clothes once again
- Boost overall self-image and esteem
Dr. Stephen Herring, our board-certified plastic surgeon, has over three decades of experience in performing tummy tuck surgery for both women and men. By customizing treatment to meet the unique needs and goals of the individual, he has achieved an exceptionally high rate of patient satisfaction with abdominoplasty. If you are interested in a tummy tuck, Dr. Herring would be happy to personalize a plan to help you attain the look you desire—simply call or contact our practice online today.
Below are several comments Dr. Herring has heard patients give as reasons for pursuing abdominoplasty:
- “I want to flatten my abdomen.”
- “I want my stomach to look smaller in a bathing suit.”
- “I have exercised and been on a healthy diet and cannot lose the weight on my abdomen.”
- “I want to get rid of the excess skin on my stomach.”
- “I cannot wear tight clothes because my stomach sticks out too much.”
Additional considerations for tummy tuck candidacy include weight goals and smoking habits. Abdominoplasty is not a procedure for weight loss, and in the event you plan to lose a significant amount of weight in the future, it is best to postpone treatment until your weight loss goals are reached. Additionally, if you have a habit of smoking, Dr. Herring will recommend that you cease doing so at least four weeks before tummy tuck surgery (ideally with no intention of resuming), as smoking can negatively interfere with healing and increase the risk of complications.
During your consultation, Dr. Herring will discuss all variables that factor into determining proper candidacy, helping you make the most informed decision about your suitability for abdominoplasty and the timing of your care.
“Experience was wonderful. Surgery went well, no complications at all. Recovery was great. Dr. Herring and staff are all very accommodating. Would recommend to anyone.”
Are There Different Types of Tummy Tucks?
There are many variations of tummy tuck operations, but each generally fits into one of two types of procedures: a full tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck. The definition of these two surgical procedures may vary some from surgeon to surgeon, but the general concepts are the same.
- Full Tummy Tuck – The full tummy tuck is a bigger procedure, and it removes the most fat and skin. This type of abdominoplasty is usually done for patients who have excess skin and fat both above and below the belly button.
- Mini Tummy Tuck – The mini tummy tuck is usually performed for patients who have excess fat and skin that is limited to below the belly button. This is a less extensive operation than the full tummy tuck.
At the time of your in-person consultation with Dr. Herring, the difference between the two procedures will be explained in greater detail in relation to your specific situation.
What Does the Tummy Tuck Procedure Entail?
The abdominoplasty procedure varies from patient to patient depending upon the unique needs and cosmetic desires of the individual. For some, there is redundant tissue only in the lower abdomen below the belly button. In these patients, a mini abdominoplasty may be an option. In others, redundant tissue is found both above and below the belly button, which necessitates a full abdominoplasty.
The design and position of the abdominoplasty incision is typically determined based on the patient’s preference. While a more linear (straight) incision is chosen by some patients, most select a curvilinear (curved) abdominoplasty incision shaped like a smile. The curvilinear incision is designed so that bathing suits cut high on the sides will usually conceal the scars. The full abdominoplasty procedure also has a circular incision around the umbilicus (belly button). This incision places the belly button to be in the same position after surgery, and also allows Dr. Herring to remove any sagging.
Anesthesia used for abdominoplasty can be “general” or a combination type of anesthesia. The anesthesia preferred by Dr. Herring for tummy tucks is very similar to the anesthesia that is used for liposuction, which is a combination of sedation and local anesthesia together—which provides a number of advantages for the patient that can be discussed during your consultation.
What Is Recovery After Tummy Tuck Surgery Like?
The recovery period after abdominoplasty is usually brief and does not generally interfere too greatly with daily living activities. The day after surgery, patients are often able to begin most non-strenuous activities, and there should be a gradual return to maximum activity over the course of a few weeks—especially for patients that engage in regular aerobic activity, such as jogging.
You may experience some initial soreness, bruising, and swelling throughout the treatment region, though these side effects are temporary and should resolve with time. Significant pain is rare following tummy tuck surgery, but any postoperative discomfort is typically well controlled by oral pain medicine.
Follow-up appointments allow Dr. Herring to observe the scar healing, and in some patients, non-surgical treatment of the scar after the procedure can improve the final result. The continued improvements in appearance after abdominoplasty will be seen for months, but an immediate enhancement is usually visible the day following surgery. Dr. Herring provides follow-up appointments for his patients as a courtesy without any fee.
Will I Have a Tummy Tuck Scar?
Scars are an inevitable aspect of every tummy tuck surgery due to the need for incisions. That said, the main incision for abdominoplasty can usually be concealed underneath most articles of clothing—including many underwear and bikini varieties. If an umbilical incision is also required during surgery, Dr. Herring makes every effort to ensure it remains camouflaged by the belly button itself.
Following treatment, Dr. Herring will provide instructions for how to properly care for your scar as it heals, and you will likely notice that it fades to some degree as it matures over time. In some instances, he may even recommend non-surgical scar treatments to help further diminish the visibility of tummy tuck scarring.
Ultimately, it is important to note virtually every patient reports that the physical and psychological benefits of tummy tuck surgery are entirely worth any scars from treatment.
How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?
The cost of tummy tuck surgery at Dr. Herring’s practice usually starts at approximately $6,200, which includes the doctor’s fee, charges for anesthesia, surgical facility expenses, and prescription medicines. This highly competitive pricing is made possible by our on-site, accredited surgery center, which allows Dr. Herring to perform treatment with reduced fees, greater privacy, and improved convenience in comparison to a hospital—all while upholding the same quality and safety standards.
To obtain a custom price quote for abdominoplasty, you will need to schedule a consultation with Dr. Herring. During this meeting, he can perform a thorough assessment of your needs and goals, formulate a personalized treatment plan that can yield the best results, and break down all expenses associated with your care. In the event cost is an issue, we do offer plastic surgery financing, which can break the overall cost of treatment into affordable monthly payments fit for virtually any budget. Should you choose to pursue this route, a knowledgeable member of our team will be happy to help get you started on the application process after your consultation.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Tummy Tuck
Is tummy tuck surgery a substitute for proper diet and exercise?
No. In order to get the best result after tummy tuck surgery, proper diet and exercise are necessary. It is important for patients to maintain a stable weight after tummy tuck to get the best outcome.
Is a tummy tuck safe?
As with all types of surgery, risks for tummy tuck can be divided into two categories. One is the risk associated with anesthesia. For anesthesia techniques that involve the use of intravenous drugs, some plastic surgeons work with trained anesthesia professionals. By doing this, the tummy tuck procedure is the only focus of the plastic surgeon, and the anesthesia aspects are performed by the anesthesia professional. As with any surgery, there are always risks with anesthesia, but the risks are considered small in healthy patients. The second type of risk associated with abdominoplasty is related to the surgery itself, and these general risks are present with all types of surgery. In addition, there are specific risks related to the tummy tuck. Dr. Herring will answer your question about the risks for tummy tuck at your personal consultation.
Can other surgeries be combined with a tummy tuck?
What is the best source for information regarding tummy tuck surgery?
In general, the best source for information on tummy tuck surgery is a personal consultation with a qualified plastic surgeon. The more information you get about abdominoplasty the better, but it is important to get accurate information. Plastic surgeons that are trained to perform tummy tuck surgery can give you accurate, up-to-date information, but more importantly, relate that information to your specific situation.
Who should perform my tummy tuck consultation?
Your tummy tuck consultation should be done by a board-certified plastic surgeon that is trained to perform this procedure. General information can be obtained from many different healthcare providers, but only the plastic surgeon is formally trained to actually perform the procedure.
How much time should my plastic surgeon spend with me for my consultation?
Your plastic surgeon should spend as much time as needed to answer your questions regarding tummy tuck surgery. If you have more questions after the consultation, then an appointment for additional consultation(s) can be scheduled.
What is informed consent for tummy tuck surgery?
Informed consent for tummy tuck is a process whereby a patient becomes knowledgeable about a procedure so that he or she can make an informed decision. The informed decision process is a shared responsibility of the plastic surgeon and the patient. The plastic surgeon should provide written materials to you, and after reading the materials, answer your questions. If more materials are desired regarding tummy tuck, you can request them from Dr. Herring. The extra information might include peer review articles (articles in scientific journals), diagrams, images, and scientific textbooks about plastic surgery. You should be comfortable that you understand the procedure, and most importantly, understand your specific situation. It is very important that you understand your specific situation because that is a primary determinant of your final outcome with tummy tuck surgery.
How does the process work to get a tummy tuck?
The first step is to make an appointment and come in for a personal consultation. After the consultation and the informed consent process, a surgery date is scheduled, which can typically be as soon as one to two weeks after the initial consultation. The decision to get a tummy tuck is considered elective for most patients, which means that the surgery is not necessary. One advantage of elective surgery, including tummy tuck, is that you can take as much time as you desire to make a decision.
Will I be awake or asleep when I get my tummy tuck?
The tummy tuck is not performed with the patient awake by the majority of plastic surgeons certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The patient typically has two types of anesthesia to get a tummy tuck. First, the patient is given intravenous sedation by a formally trained anesthesia professional. Second, the patient is given local anesthesia (similar to the medicine the dentist uses) to numb the area. The combination of these two techniques allows the tummy tuck procedure to be performed with great patient comfort and a high safety margin. Patients typically have no memory of the procedure, and the area of surgery is still numb when they wake up.
Are the muscles of the abdomen tightened during the tummy tuck procedure?
The muscles of the abdomen can be moved during the tummy tuck if it is indicated. To be exact, the muscles are usually not tightened during the tummy tuck. Muscle tissue is very fragile and difficult to repair or move by itself. In order to move the muscles, the tough wrapping (fascia) of the muscles is repaired. In order for the facia to be tightened, however, it must be loose before the repair. The fascia can be loose as a result of pregnancy, loss of weight, or just from the aging process. If the fascia is tight before the tummy tuck procedure, the tightening procedure can actually add serious risk to the procedure. Whether tightening the fascia during the tummy tuck is appropriate or not can usually (but not always) be determined at the personal consultation.
What are the incision options for tummy tuck surgery?
There are three general considerations for incisions with tummy tuck. The first consideration is the height of the incision. While it is desirable in most patients to have the incision as low as possible, there are limitations as to how low it can be placed. The height of the incision on the abdomen for tummy tuck can vary based on the specific situation of the patient, and to some degree, the desires of the patient. The height of the incision, in part, determines the general location of the final scar.
The second consideration is the shape of the incision. The incision for tummy abdominoplasty can be designed in curvilinear (curved) shape, or it can be straight. Because many modern bathing suits are cut high on the outside of the thigh, many patients choose a curved incision design. This incision is shaped like a smile so that it is higher the closer it gets to the thigh. In this manner, the final scar will be inside or almost inside most modern bathing suits. On the other hand, some patients will choose a straight incision for tummy tuck surgery. The straight incision design is sometimes chosen by patients that like to wear “hip hugger” style pants. By making the incision straight, the final scar could be inside low cut pants.
The third consideration is the length of the incision. The length of the scar is kept as short as possible in the tummy tuck; however, the amount of tissue removed is a primary determinant of scar length. In most patients, the incision (and, therefore, the final scar) is shorter in the mini tummy tuck than in the full tummy tuck.
Dr. Herring will discuss the options for incision height, shape and length at the time of your personal consultation.
Can a hernia be repaired at the time of a tummy tuck?
Yes. Small hernias can be repaired at the time (combined surgery) of a tummy tuck. Some plastic surgeons prefer to stage the procedures if there is a large hernia. Staging means that the large hernia would be repaired first by a general surgeon, and the tummy tuck would be done at a separate and later time by your plastic surgeon. There are advantages and disadvantages to combined or staged surgery, and Dr. Herring will discuss these options at the time of the personal consultation.
Are drains used with a tummy tuck?
Yes. Drains are commonly used in conjunction with a tummy tuck. The drains for abdominoplasty serve two purposes—one obvious and the other not so obvious. The first and obvious purpose is to remove excess drainage from the area of surgery. Without a drain, excess drainage may have to be removed by a different method. The second, and not so obvious, purpose of the drain is to allow the plastic surgeon to monitor the area of surgery. By looking at the drainage, the plastic surgeon can get a very good idea of the postoperative condition. The drain is usually removed in a short period of time after tummy tuck surgery. The decision to remove the drain is based in part on the rate of drainage, and when the rate becomes low, it is removed.
When can I go back to work after tummy tuck surgery?
Most patients go back to work within 48 to 72 hours after abdominoplasty, as long as the work does not require extreme physical exertion. In three to four weeks, most patients can increase their activity level to approximately the pre-operative level.
Book Your Consultation
To learn more about tummy tuck surgery, or if you would like to find out if this procedure is right for your particular aesthetic needs and goals, please don’t hesitate to contact our practice today. We are more than happy to help you achieve the look you desire!