Tummy Tuck: What to Consider Before Undergoing the Knife

One of the most popular (and fastest growing) cosmetic surgery procedures among baby boomers is abdominoplasty, better known as a tummy tuck. Tummy tuck surgery can instantly tighten and tone the mid-section, overcoming negative effects of pregnancy and weight loss like excess skin, fat, and loose abdominal muscles. But is tummy tuck surgery a good idea for everyone? The following is a brief overview of the surgery, along with some things to think about before moving ahead with the treatment.

Why a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery completely reshapes the abdominal area; tightening the rectus muscle of the abdomen while slimming the obliques (side muscles).

A tummy tuck starts with a simple incision made to the lower abdomen (low waist) and varies in length depending on the needs of the patient. A second incision is then made to free the belly button (navel) from any abdominal tissue. A surgeon can then tighten muscles and remove excess skin before re-draping the abdominal area back into place and securing the belly button.

The final result is a dramatically flatter and toned stomach.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Tummy Tuck Surgery?

It’s important to have a good understanding of your abdominal issues to determine if a tummy tuck can deliver your ideal result. Do you just have excess mid-section fat? Or do you have problems with excess skin (usually the outcome of significant weight loss) or muscle-related issues (usually a result of pregnancy).

If your issues stem from excess skin or lax abdominal muscles (often diagnosed by your surgeon) you may be a good candidate for a tummy tuck. However, if your issues are strictly centered on fat (i.e. you do not have excess skin and have a somewhat toned muscles) you will probably be better off considering liposuction, especially if the fatty area is resistant to diet and exercise.

Five Questions to Ask Yourself

When discussing the tummy tuck procedure with prospective patients, I regularly bring up five points:

  • Can you reach and maintain a healthy weight for several months? To maintain your look after a tummy tuck surgery it will be important to live a healthy lifestyle and avoid any significant weight gain.
  • Are you done having children? This one is important question for mothers as pregnancy can undo some of the benefits of a tummy tuck.
  • Are you ok with having a permanent scar from the surgery? There is significant permanent scarring in the incision area. However the scar is usually near the pubic hair line so it can be hidden in a swimsuit or underwear.
  • Can you clear your schedule for 4-6 weeks for recovery? There is a lengthy recovery period for tummy tuck surgery, usually about four to six weeks. You’ll be wearing a compression garment for the first four weeks to support your tummy while it is healing.
  • Do you accept the risks? Tummy tuck surgery carries higher risks compared to other cosmetic procedures. It is vital for you to understand these risks and be counseled by a plastic surgeon.

The most important step in determining if a tummy tuck is right for you is to get a consultation from a plastic surgeon.

About the author

Chuma Chike-Obi, MD practices plastic surgery at Austin based Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery. Dr. Chike-Obi has published numerous articles in plastic surgery and his work has been presented at a variety of professional meetings nationally and internationally since 2007, including the International Society of Craniofacial Surgery Biennial International Congress, American Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting, American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery Annual Meeting, and Texas Society of Plastic Surgeons Annual Meeting.


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