A tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) is a really common procedure with the goal being to improve the contour and shape of the abdomen. Often the abdomen really changes with age, weight loss, or pregnancy, and although diet and exercise can help, sometimes it’s not enough. Each tummy tuck involves removing excess skin and fat and also tightening up the abdominal muscles to achieve the optimal shape and contour. There are a few things however that patients can do both before and after surgery to get the best results possible:
1) Be close to your target weight: If you plan on losing a significant amount of weight, try to do so before your procedure instead of after. It will not only help in your recovery but it will likely give you a superior result as the surgeon will be able to remove more excess skin during the procedure.
2) Pregnancy and Tummy Tucks: In general, we recommend that our patients start their families and be fairly certain that they do not want to have any more pregnancies before having a tummy tuck. While you can certainly become pregnant after a tummy tuck, the pregnancy will really change the appearance of the abdomen and almost certainly require another procedure down the road.
3) Ask lots of questions: Just as not all tummy tucks are performed the same, not all surgeons performing the procedure are Board-Certified Plastic Surgeons. So in addition to looking at your surgeon’s Before and After Photos, I would recommend asking several questions not only about incision length and placement, if they plan on tightening the muscles, recovery, drains, and pain management after surgery, but also about their training, certification, and experience.
4) If you smoke, Quit!: There is no doubt that nicotine is harmful for a number of reasons, but smoking and tummy tucks don’t mix. The nicotine puts the healing process at risk, so most of us will not perform this procedure on patients who are smoking, and we require being off of all nicotine products (including the gum and patch) for at least 4-6 weeks before surgery and 4-6 weeks after.
5) Listen to your surgeon after your procedure and don’t overdo it: It’s really important to follow your surgeon’s orders for activity, lifting restrictions, and time off from work. You will have invested time and money into the procedure so it’s important to protect that investment, and that means giving your body time to heal.
These 5 simple steps are a good start, but in the end take the time to find a Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon to meet in person for a consultation– this, more than anything else, will give you the best chance at a great result!