Many people struggle to get the flat and toned stomach that they desire. There are many exercises, such as Pilates and crunches, that are designed to tone core muscles, but these are often ineffective, in particular after pregnancy, and they cannot address excess loose skin or pockets of stubborn fat. A tummy tuck is a plastic surgery procedure that can create a flatter and narrower waistline by addressing these core causes.
What Is a Tummy Tuck?
Also known as an abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck is a procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen. The surgeon also tightens muscles that have been stretched during pregnancy or periods of weight gain. While all abdominoplasties have the same end goal, there are several different types:
Full Tummy Tuck – This is the classic tummy tuck procedure, in which the incision is made from hip to hip. The skin is detached from muscle and fascia so the muscles can be tightened. Liposuction may be performed to remove excess fat. The extra skin is then excised and the remaining skin reattached to form a smooth, firm stomach.
Extended Tummy Tuck – An extended abdominoplasty is similar to a full tummy tuck but has a larger scope and longer incisions. This procedure is intended for people with extra fat and tissue from flank to flank.
Mini Tummy Tuck – A mini tummy tuck is for people with extra skin and lax muscles centered in their lower abdominal region. In this surgery, the plastic surgeon will make a shorter incision (typically there is no incision around the belly button) and address the excess skin, fat and muscle laxity of the lower abdomen.
Which procedure is best for you? According to Seattle plastic surgeon, Dr. Shahram Salemy, the answer to this question depends on your unique body type and what kind of stressors have caused you to need a tummy tuck. For example, people who have gained and then lost a great deal of weight often have loose skin on their hips and thus may have better results from an extended abdominoplasty. On the other hand, people who merely have a little extra skin from pregnancy or age may be able to have good results with a full or mini tummy tuck.
What to Look for in a Plastic Surgeon
The most important part of getting the flat and firm stomach that you desire is finding the right plastic surgeon. You will depend on your plastic surgeon to give you accurate information and recommendations as well as performing the procedure itself. Here are a few qualifications that Dr. Salemy recommends that you look for in a physician performing your tummy tuck:
Board certification – The American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS) gives board certification to physicians who have the education and training to safely and correctly perform plastic surgeries such as abdominoplasty. The ABPS is recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS).
Experience – Review the surgeon’s personal experience with abdominoplasties, especially with the particular technique that will be performed. Look at information including the number of tummy tucks performed last year, the types of tummy tucks performed as well as before and after photos to get an idea of their skill level. By reviewing the before and after photos, you will also be able to see how the results align with your personal aesthetic goal.
Approach – Understanding a plastic surgeon’s approach in getting to your desired outcome is important. An approach that focuses on shared decision-making in plastic surgery where both the surgeon and the patient determine together how to achieve optimal results is key. Discussion of what’s possible based on a patient’s anatomy should also be talked about.
Questions to Ask a Plastic Surgeon
Here is a checklist of questions to ask during your consultation in selecting the right plastic surgeon to ensure a positive experience in reaching your personal aesthetic goals:
The Surgeon’s Personal Experience:
- Are you a board certified plastic surgeon? Do you have hospital privileges?
- How much experience do you have with abdominoplasties? How many did you perform last year?
- How frequently do your patients develop complications? What type of complications are most common? What is your treatment plan for complications?
- Will a reoperation ever be necessary?
Tummy Tuck Procedure:
- What technique do you recommend for my body?
- Am I a good candidate for a tummy tuck procedure?
- How will my anatomy impact the outcome I desire?
- What are the risks of this procedure?
- How should I prepare for my tummy tuck?
- Are there any lifestyle changes that I need to make before the surgery?
Post Operation and Recovery:
- What can I expect in my recovery?
- How long will I experience pain? What kind of medications will I need post operation?
- How much time will I need to take off work?
- What kind of physical activities am I not allowed to do and for how long? When will I be able to resume normal physical activities and exercising?
- What kind of signs should I be on the lookout for regarding potential complications?