If you’ve been considering getting a tummy tuck, then you may be wondering if it’s considered plastic surgery. As such, we thought it would be a good idea to help you answer some of your questions about this procedure and the recovery process so that you can decide whether or not it’s something that you’re interested in having done.
The first thing to keep in mind is that there are different types of tummy tucks available for people who want them. There are also many different reasons why someone might want one, but one of the most common reasons is because they have lost weight or gained weight and need to have their stomach tightened up again. This can be done through various procedures including liposuction, which removes fat from beneath the skin; excisional surgery which involves removing excess skin and tightening up loose muscles; or abdominoplasty which makes small incisions in order to tighten up any remaining excess skin.
You may find it hard to access the right information on the internet, so we are here to help you in the following article, providing the best and updated information on the new tummy tuck procedure, tummy tuck surgery side effects, and tummy tuck surgery cost.
Is Tummy Tuck Considered Plastic Surgery
A tummy tuck — also known as abdominoplasty — is a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve the shape and appearance of the abdomen.
During a tummy tuck, excess skin and fat are removed from the abdomen. Connective tissue in the abdomen (fascia) usually is tightened with sutures as well. The remaining skin is then repositioned to create a more toned look.
You might choose to have a tummy tuck if you have excess fat or skin around the area of your bellybutton or a weak lower abdominal wall. A tummy tuck can also boost your body image.
Why it’s done
There are a number of reasons you might have excess fat, poor elasticity of the skin or weakened connective tissue in your abdomen. These include:
- Significant changes in weight
- Abdominal surgery, such as a C-section
- Your natural body type
A tummy tuck can remove loose, excess skin and fat, and tighten weak fascia. A tummy tuck may also remove stretch marks and excess skin in the lower abdomen below the bellybutton. However, a tummy tuck won’t correct stretch marks outside of this area.
If you’ve previously had a C-section, your plastic surgeon might be able to incorporate your existing C-section scar into your tummy tuck scar.
A tummy tuck can also be done in combination with other body contouring cosmetic procedures, such as breast surgery. If you’ve had fat removed from your abdomen (liposuction), you may decide to have a tummy tuck because liposuction removes tissue just under the skin and fat but not any excess skin.
A tummy tuck isn’t for everyone. Your doctor might caution against a tummy tuck if you:
- Plan to lose a significant amount of weight
- Might consider pregnancy in the future
- Have a severe chronic condition, such as heart disease or diabetes
- Have a body mass index that’s greater than 30
- Have had a previous abdominal surgery that caused significant scar tissue
A tummy tuck poses various risks, including:
- Fluid accumulation beneath the skin (seroma). Drainage tubes left in place after surgery can help reduce the risk of excess fluid. Your doctor might also remove fluid after surgery using a needle and syringe.
- Poor wound healing. Sometimes areas along the incision line heal poorly or begin to separate. You might be given antibiotics during and after surgery to prevent an infection.
- Unexpected scarring. The incision scar from a tummy tuck is permanent, but it’s typically placed along the easily hidden bikini line. The length and visibility of the scar varies from person to person.
- Tissue damage. During a tummy tuck, fatty tissue deep within your skin in the abdominal area might get damaged or die. Smoking increases the risk of tissue damage. Depending on the size of the area, tissue might heal on its own or require a surgical touch-up procedure.
- Changes in skin sensation. During a tummy tuck, the repositioning of your abdominal tissues can affect the nerves in the abdominal area, and infrequently, in the upper thighs. You’ll likely feel some reduced sensation or numbness. This usually diminishes in the months after the procedure.
Like any other type of major surgery, a tummy tuck poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia.
How you prepare
You’ll talk to a plastic surgeon about a tummy tuck. During your first visit, your plastic surgeon will likely:
- Review your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions about current and past medical conditions. Talk about any medications you’re taking or have taken recently, as well as any surgeries you’ve had.Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications. If your desire for a tummy tuck is related to weight loss, your doctor will likely ask detailed questions about your weight gain and loss.
- Do a physical exam. To determine your treatment options, the doctor will examine your abdomen. The doctor might also take pictures of your abdomen for your medical record.
- Discuss your expectations. Explain why you want a tummy tuck, and what you’re hoping for in terms of appearance after the procedure. Make sure you understand the benefits and risks of the procedure, including scarring. Keep in mind that previous abdominal surgery might limit your results.
Before a tummy tuck you might also need to:
- Stop smoking. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. In addition, smoking increases the risk of tissue damage. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking before surgery and during recovery.
- Avoid certain medications. You’ll likely need to avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
- Maintain a stable weight. Ideally, you’ll maintain a stable weight for at least 12 months before having a tummy tuck. If you’re severely overweight, your doctor will recommend that you lose weight before the procedure. Significant weight loss after the procedure can diminish your results.
- Arrange for help during recovery. Make plans for someone to drive you home after you leave the hospital and stay with you for at least the first night of your recovery at home.
What you can expect
A tummy tuck is done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility. During a tummy tuck, you’ll be under general anesthesia — which makes you completely unconscious and unable to feel pain. In some cases, you might be given a pain-relieving medication and be moderately sedated (partially asleep).
Before the procedure
There are a number of different procedures for a tummy tuck, depending on your goals and the extent of change you would like to see. During the typical tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon makes incisions to remove most of the skin and fat between your bellybutton and pubic hair in a horizontal oval or elliptical shape. Connective tissue (fascia) that lies over the abdominal muscles is then tightened with permanent sutures.
The amount of excess skin removed and the type of procedure you have will determine the shape and length of the incision. The incision above the pubic hair will be stitched together and will leave a scar that falls along the natural crease within the bikini line.
Your plastic surgeon will also reposition the skin around your bellybutton. Your bellybutton will be brought out through a small incision and sutured in its normal position.
During the procedure you might be given an antibiotic to prevent infection.
The procedure typically takes about two to three hours.
After the procedure
After a tummy tuck, your abdominal incision and bellybutton will likely be covered with surgical dressing. Small tubes might be placed along the incision site to drain any excess blood or fluid.
Members of your health care team will help you walk as early as the first day after a tummy tuck to help prevent the formation of blood clots.
You’ll likely be given pain medication. It’s normal to have swelling in the surgical area.
Drains might be left in place for several days after surgery. Your doctor or another member of your health care team will show you how to empty and care for your drains. You might need to continue taking an antibiotic as long as the drains are in place.
Your surgeon might also prescribe a blood-thinning medication for a short time after your tummy tuck.
You’ll wear a supportive abdominal garment (abdominal binder) for about six weeks after your tummy tuck. This helps prevent fluid buildup and provides abdominal support while you heal. Your doctor will explain how to care for your scar.
For the first six weeks after a tummy tuck, you’ll need to be careful when moving around. You’ll also need to avoid positions that strain your incision line — such as quickly bending at the waist — to prevent the reopening of the wound.
You’ll need to schedule regular follow-up visits. Ask your doctor how often you need to be seen.
By removing excess skin and fat and strengthening your abdominal wall, a tummy tuck can give your abdomen a more toned and slimmer appearance.
Tummy tuck results are usually long lasting if you maintain a stable weight.
The New Tummy Tuck Procedure
- An extended tummy tuck is similar to a abdominoplasty, but the procedure also targets fat on the flanks and lower back.
- The incision wraps from the low pelvis to the lower back.
- Extended tummy tucks are generally considered safe. As with all surgeries, there are risks involved.
- Risks include swelling, fluid accumulation, reaction to anesthesia, and numbness after surgery.
- Tummy tucks are an in-hospital procedure where patients are put under anesthesia.
- If the procedure is elective, as most are, it will not be covered by insurance.
- It’s important to find a trained, board-certified plastic surgeon whose work you trust.
- The cost for a tummy tuck varies widely based on where you live, the procedure itself, and the size of the area.
- It will usually fall between $4,000 and $18,000.
- Extended tummy tucks are very effective with studies reporting that the majority of those who elect to have this procedure are satisfied by the results.
What is an extended tummy tuck?
An extended tummy tuck is very similar to a regular tummy tuck — sometimes called an abdominoplasty — but instead of just reducing excess skin and fat on the stomach, it also targets the flank area, or love handles, between the waist and hips. In some cases, an extended tummy tuck will also target excess skin on the lateral thigh.
The ideal candidates for an extended tummy tuck include people who have lost a lot of weight and have excess skin, and those who want to slim the appearance of their stomach and flanks.
How much does an extended tummy tuck cost?
The cost of an extended tummy will vary depending on the surgeon, the volume of fat, and the size of the area. The price range for a tummy tuck generally falls between $4,000 and $18,000.
In 2019, the average cost of a tummy tuck (not extended) was $6,092 according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Because there is more involved in an extended tummy tuck, the cost will likely be more. In addition, this cost is only for the procedure and does not take into account anesthesia, operating room facilities, or other related expenses.
Because tummy tucks are usually done for aesthetic reasons only, the procedure will not be covered by insurance. In some cases, a tummy tuck may relieve back pain and incontinence. You will also likely have to take several days off from work for recovery.
How does an extended tummy tuck work?
Extended tummy tucks work by removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen and repairing any muscles that have become loosened or torn. Through an incision above the pubic hairline that wraps around to the lower back, skin and fat are removed from the stomach and flank area. The skin is laid flat, and the belly button is reattached, giving the skin a smoother, flatter appearance.
In a 2012 study Trusted Source of 25 individuals who underwent extended tummy tuck surgery, all 25 were “extremely satisfied” with the results.
Procedure for extended tummy tuck
- During an extended tummy tuck, the surgeon will typically make an incision between your hip bones, low in the pubic area. If you’re having a tummy tuck after a C-section, they may reopen the same scar.
- Any muscles that have been separated, such as from pregnancy, will be sewn together so they appear taut. Full tummy tucks can fix diastasis recti, which is a splitting of the abdominal muscles.
- The belly button will be cut away, and liposuction may be performed if there is extra fat.
- Excess skin is removed from the tummy and flank area, and the skin will be pulled taut.
- Finally, the belly button is sutured in its original place, unless you and your surgeon decide to change its shape.
Targeted areas for extended tummy tuck
Extended tummy tucks target the upper and lower stomach, waist, flanks, and sometimes the uppermost lateral portion of the thigh.
Are there any risks or side effects?
As with all surgery, there are some risks and side effects associated with extended tummy tucks. One study found that 8.5 percent Trusted Source of people who underwent tummy tuck surgery were re-administered into the hospital because of some kind of complication. These complications and side effects may include:
- numbness after surgery, which is typically temporary
- excess fluid or blood pooling in the belly
- swelling and redness
- internal organ puncture — while rare, could be caused by cannula (a tube that removes excess fluids from the body) penetrating too deeply and potentially puncturing an organ
What to expect after an extended tummy tuck
Your surgeon or nurse should brief you on what to expect after surgery including:
- what activities to avoid and how long
- if and when you can consume alcohol and certain medications or supplements
- how long to wear your compression garment
- how to manage your drainage tubes, if your surgeon uses them
- when to schedule a follow-up appointment
You will be able to see some results immediately, though your abdominal area will be swollen and bandaged. For the first few weeks, you will likely be advised to rest at an angle and avoid strenuous activity or lifting heavy things.
Around the 2- to 3-month mark, most of the swelling will likely have gone down, though you may still see some scarring, which should lighten over time. After 6 months to a year, you will see the full results, which should be permanent unless you gain weight quickly or have a pregnancy.
Before and after pictures
It’s helpful to see photos from people who have had extended tummy tucks when deciding if the procedure is right for you. Check out before and after photos below:
Before your extended tummy tuck, you’ll likely need to get a blood panel to make sure you’re in good health. You will also want to meet with your surgeon to discuss what to expect. Also, you will need to arrange a ride home.
You may also be told to:
- stop smoking
- limit alcohol
- stop taking anti-inflammatory drugs (like aspirin) and certain herbal supplements, which could potentially worsen bleeding or prevent proper clotting
Extended tummy tuck vs. traditional tummy tuck
An extended tummy tuck and a traditional tummy tuck are very similar procedures. The main difference is that an extended tummy tuck addresses the flanks, also known as love handles, between the waist and hip. Because of the additional procedure, an extended tummy tuck is often more expensive, takes longer to complete, and may require a longer recovery time post-surgery.
How to find a provider
An extended tummy tuck should only be performed by a board-certified plastic surgeon. You can use the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ Find a Surgeon Tool tool to find a list of board-certified plastic surgeons near you.