A Tummy Tuck procedure, or Abdominoplasty, can improve the parts of the abdomen that diet and exercise alone cannot reach. In fact, 97% of Tummy Tuck patients who posted after their surgery on the popular cosmetic treatment website, RealSelf.com, said they believed the procedure was worth it.
- What is a Tummy Tuck?
- How do I know if I’m a good candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
- How much does a Tummy Tuck cost?
- How long is Tummy Tuck recovery?
- What are the benefits of a Tummy Tuck?
- What are the common concerns?
- Are non-invasive options available instead?
It’s probably fair to say that many people would admit there’s a part of their body they’d change given the opportunity.
One of the most common improvements both men and women strive for is a flatter and smoother stomach – or a refined abdominal contour as it’s sometimes referred to.
A flat belly is often considered a symbol of youthfulness, attractiveness, a healthy lifestyle and general wellbeing.
But, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, genetics, childbearing, weight fluctuations and lifestyle habits can make achieving a slim and smooth tummy feel impossible. And when we want to look and feel the best that we can, that can be frustrating.
But all is not lost. A Tummy Tuck may be an option worth considering.
Tummy Tuck is one of the top 5 surgical procedures being performed in America, increasing by 107% since 2000.
What is a Tummy Tuck?
As well as excess skin, problem lumps and bumps around the abdomen are often caused by tummy muscles that have loosened and stretched due to the aging process, lifestyle habits or childbirth.
So, when performing an abdominoplasty procedure, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boston will likely cut away sagging skin and at the same time, repair the weakened stomach muscles that lie beneath.
As the American Society of Plastic Surgeons explains, surgeons achieve this by making a horizontal incision between the pubic hairline and tummy button. Once the muscles have been tightened, the skin is pulled down, cut away and stitched to the skin below, creating a scar that is usually hidden below the bikini or shorts line.
According to webmd.com, surgery can take anywhere from one to five hours, and while it is often carried out on an outpatient basis, sometimes an overnight stay is required.
Different types of tummy tuck suit different patients. It largely depends on how much excess skin a patient has to lose.
The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery reports that a mini tummy tuck improves the lower belly with less extensive surgery than a full abdominoplasty while the full tummy tuck improves both the upper and lower abdomen.
An extended abdominoplasty (or Fleur-de-lis surgery) improves the upper and lower abdomen and flanks. This is suitable for patients who have lost a lot of weight and now have sagging skin around the front of their body. This more extensive surgery usually requires both vertical and horizontal incisions.
How do I know if I’m a good candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck might not be the right solution for everyone.
The American Society of Plastic Surgeons says a good candidate for an abdominoplasty is a non-smoking man or woman who’s physically healthy and who has stable weight. They also advise that it’s something a patient should do for themselves rather than to fit any sort of ideal image.
A suitable candidate will also be bothered by the appearance of their abdomen, which may not be what they consider a desirable shape following weight loss or pregnancy.
But there are also factors which may make the pathway to a tummy tuck a little less straightforward.
Some surgeons recommend patients complete their families before they elect to have a tummy tuck, because a pregnancy after surgery can mean a patient waves goodbye to the results they achieved from their previous operation. But the subject is up for debate and if a patient believes pregnancy may be on the horizon, it is definitely something to discuss with a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boston.
In addition, patients looking to lose fat may also need to discuss having liposuction at the same time as their abdominoplasty.
Denver surgeon, Dr Francesco Campanile, says electing to have a dual procedure can be an effective way of getting rid of stubborn fat pockets that don’t respond to diet or exercise and sculpting the waist into a shape the patient really wants.
And for women who feel their breasts have sagged as well as their abdomen after pregnancy, a “mommy makeover” – a combination of a breast lift with a tummy tuck – may be the answer.
How much does a Tummy Tuck cost?
A tummy tuck isn’t usually considered a medically-required procedure, so it’s unlikely to be covered by insurance.
There are sometimes exceptions to this.
If a patient has an apron of skin and fat that hangs over the pubic area that contributes to repeated rashes and lower back pain, they may be a suitable candidate for a panniculectomy. This is where the pannus (the excess skin and tissue from the lower abdomen) is removed in a medical procedure.
But usually, the cost for an abdominoplasty for cosmetic reasons falls to the patient, and these may vary.
According to a bankrate.com report, the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery puts the price tag between $4,000 and $18,000. The Tummy Tuck cost depends on the exact procedure involved, the surgeon’s geographic location and their level of expertise and certification. To check out the procedure price ranges for different areas, please click here.
As a guide, realself.com reports that the average cost of a tummy tuck is $8225, but the final price tag may be higher. Some fees don’t include anaesthesia, operating room facility costs or other related expenses.
The best way to determine the final cost is to discuss options with a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boston and factor in all of the charges related to a particular plan. Only then can a patient calculate what they can afford from earnings and savings. They may also consider options like using their credit card, taking out a loan or using a patient financing plan like CareCredit.
How long is Tummy Tuck recovery?
Recovery for each patient is an individual journey but there are some common factors.
Some surgeons will place drains in the stomach to remove any excess fluid that accumulates during healing and patients may also be sent home with a compression garment to reduce swelling.
Patients may need assistance at home for the first few days while they recover with pain medication and rest but recovery itself will take several weeks.
Harvard-trained Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon, Dr Mark Markarian, says on RealSelf.com, “Typically patients should be resuming normal activity at about two weeks and exercise at about 6 weeks barring no complications”.
What are the benefits of a Tummy Tuck?
A Tummy Tuck can achieve a smoother contour that exercise and diet would be unlikely to achieve. Clothes will fit better and provide the patient with a huge confidence boost. In fact, some patients on realself.com have reported they’ve “got their body back after 20 years”, and described the surgery as “life changing” and “totally worth it”.
It may also be possible to smooth scars and help reduce stretch marks with a tummy tuck. Board-certified surgeon, Dr Pekarev in Texas, says, “in many cases… changes in the skin brought on by rapid weight gain and loss after pregnancy can be removed with careful surgical planning”.
However, the aesthetic improvements each patient experiences will be individual to them. And this is where the consultation comes in.
Dr Mark Markarian is a strong believer in personalizing every procedure. And, he recommends, patients should see plenty of Tummy Tuck before and after pictures of patients who have a similar appearance to themselves to more accurately predict their surgical outcome.
There’s also good news if you’re hoping for a lower number on the scales. While it shouldn’t be relied upon to resolve long standing weight loss issues, the American Society of Plastic Surgeons reports that many subjects in a post-abdominoplasty study sustained long-lasting weight loss after the procedure.
And as an added bonus, realself.com reports that patients may see improvements in back pain and urinary incontinence, including after child bearing, because strength and stability are restored to the abdominal and pelvic region after surgery.
What are the common concerns?
As with many cosmetic procedures, a tummy tuck is major surgery with a long recovery. While many patients feel better within weeks, full healing can take up to a year.
And it doesn’t come without complications which include anaesthesia risks, bleeding and infection. These can increase when a tummy tuck is combined with other plastic surgery procedures or if a patient is obese.
It’s also not a cheap option for achieving a youthful midriff – and as we’ve already looked at – insurance is unlikely to cover it.
Are non-invasive options available instead?
There may be alternative routes to a flatter belly depending on what a patient is looking to achieve.
Healthline.com reports that liposuction may be a good fit if a patient is looking to remove small fat deposits. This will reduce bulges and improve the contour. It won’t, however, do anything about removing saggy skin or tightening the abdominal muscles.
There’s also non-surgical fat reduction to consider. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery has produced a guide to minimally invasive treatments that break down fat cells to achieve a gradual, modest fat loss without surgery. Read more about the options here.
While we hope this article provides a broad overview of abdominoplasty, it shouldn’t be considered as advice.
The best way to discover the right route for you is to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boston for an individual assessment.
They will discuss with you the goals that you have in mind and the results that can realistically be achieved from surgery. They will also outline the full cost for you so you will know how much to budget, and how much time you’re likely to need in recovery.
Booking a no-obligation consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon in Boston may be the key to bringing you closer to the smoother and flatter belly you’ve been dreaming of – be it through surgery, liposuction or a non-invasive method.
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Though the content of this blog has been carefully prepared, the author of this content is not a medical doctor and the content has not been reviewed by a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon.
Unless specifically stated, patients referred to in this blog have not received Tummy Tuck procedure by Dr Mark Markarian. This blog does not endorse the work of any doctors or surgeons mentioned. Stories relating to patients’ personal experiences of Tummy Tuck procedure should be treated as anecdotal only.
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