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
Types of tummy tuck surgeries
A cosmetic surgeon may recommend one of the following tummy tuck surgery procedures to help give you a firmer, flatter, abdominal contour with minimal scarring:
Mini Tummy Tuck: If you’re mainly concerned about stretch marks and loose skin below your belly button, then the mini tummy tuck surgery is the ideal option. This procedure involves making one horizontal incision below your belly button, from which your surgeon then effectively tightens the loose abdominal muscles. Surplus skin is also removed to create a flat and firm abdominal wall.
Mini tummy tuck surgeries usually take a relatively shorter time and will often have a faster recovery time, along with minimal scarring. Expect a thin scar, usually a couple of inches, along with a firmer and flatter lower abdomen.
Full or Classic Tummy Tuck: This tummy tuck addresses both the upper and lower abdomen areas and will typically yield great results in removing excess fat. Your cosmetic surgeon will use either a U-shaped or horizontal incision below the belly button or the navel. Excess fat and skin are then eliminated to achieve a slim abdomen that looks natural.
The full or classic tummy tuck will typically leave a longer scar due to the extensive incisions required. However, the scar will hide below a swimsuit bottom. This type of tummy tuck benefits includes a considerably smoother, slimmer abdomen with fewer stretch marks and more comfort wearing skirts and pants.
Extended Tummy Tuck: The extended abdominoplasty is the standard tummy tuck that includes recontouring the flanks, hips, or even lateral thigh. It is quite useful for those who have experienced significant weight loss and are now dealing with excessively saggy skin on their abdomen. In most cases, the surgeon will perform liposuction around the flanks during the tummy tuck.
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.
Steps to Working Out After a Tummy Tuck
1. Listen to Your Doctor
Before you do ANY physical activity, talk to your doctor about what you should expect from exercise after an abdominoplasty surgery and how long you should wait to get started after your procedure. Your surgeon’s response will depend upon your condition prior to surgery, your personal surgical experience and how your body is recovering. If you were a marathon runner before your procedure, you will most likely return to your active lifestyle more quickly than someone who spent more time on the couch.
2. Sit Up and Get Up
Immediately following a tummy tuck procedure, even the most physically fit people may need support with seemingly simple tasks like sitting up and down. It is important to move around a bit in the first 24 hours following your abdominoplasty surgery to help promote blood circulation. But, make sure to have someone present when you first begin, because you may be unsteady. Walking after tummy tuck surgery is important; each day following your procedure, you should walk a little bit longer and a bit farther, to increase your strength and facilitate healing.
3.Perform Light Cardiovascular Activity Soon After Surgery
Should your tummy tuck require tightening the abdominal muscles, as in most cases, it usually takes about 2 weeks before you will be able to begin light cardiovascular exercise. Again, it is important to consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise after plastic surgery. Once you receive approval, you can begin with light exercise activities that raise your heart rate without directly engaging your abdominal or core muscles, such as walking, elliptical or stationary cycling. If your tummy tuck is “skin-only,” meaning only the skin is excised and tightened but no tightening of the muscles is necessary, then recovery is quicker and you will be able to return to pre–surgery exercise levels sooner.
4. Strengthen Your Upper Body and Legs, but Avoid Your Abdominals
Once you are comfortable with light cardiovascular activity, most patients can begin performing light weight lifting activities about 3 weeks after a tummy tuck procedure. These should be exercises that strengthen your arms, chest, shoulders, and legs – in addition to light cardio activities. Again, it is important to avoid heavy weight lifting during this time. You will want to avoid pull ups, power lifting, planking, sit-ups or other abdominal or lifting exercises.
5. Start Working Out Those Abs
After about 5-6 weeks following your tummy tuck procedure, and once your surgeon has given you approval, you can gradually start to expand your exercise program, including pilates and yoga. Again, a personal trainer is an invaluable resource during this time. They can coach you on form, duration, and even progression of exercises as you regain strength in your abdominal muscles. You should still avoid any heavy weight lifting or exercises that target the abdominal muscles until your physician permits it. This is because ab toning exercises after a tummy tuck only lead to stress in the region, which can adversely affect your recovery.
When can i stretch after a tummy tuck?
During the tummy tuck surgery, the plastic surgeon can suture the abdominal muscles to bring them together and create a firmer tummy. Hence, it is advised to avoid stretching during the entire recovery period or wait at least six weeks.
When can i stand straight after tummy tuck?
Usually after 1-2 weeks after tummy tuck you are able to stand straight, each patient is differently your body on its own will straighten when you are ready. Some patients take longer up to 3 weeks to fully stand straight.
Tips to standing straight after tummy tuck
During abdominoplasty the tissues are pulled tight at the waste line. It’s important to maintain a bent over, or jackknifed position when standing and when walking for the first week or so. As the tissues begin to heal, it is safe to achieve a more straight position.
However, this jackknifed position is critical for the first week, even when attempting to sit or lie down. The knees should be lifted, the feet and the head should maintain an elevated position whether it’s with pillows or with a recliner chair. This protects the incision and protects the abdominoplasty results.
When can i bend over after tummy tuck?
The short answer is: you can start bending over after your tummy tuck.
The long answer is: it depends on the type of tummy tuck you had, how much time has passed since your surgery, and how well you’ve healed.
If you had a traditional tummy tuck, where a surgeon removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen, you can start bending over at about six weeks post-op. If you had a mini-tuck or brachioplasty surgery (where only your lower belly is removed), it might be closer to eight weeks post-op before it’s safe to bend over without damaging your incision line or causing complications.
It’s important to remember that there are many factors that can impact how quickly or slowly healing occurs. These include: your age; the extent of your body mass index (BMI); the type and location of incisions; whether or not fat grafting was performed; if there were any complications following surgery; and if any drains were used in the healing process.
As always, check with your doctor before attempting any activity that could potentially cause harm or injury!
What to wear after tummy tuck surgery
FIRST WEEK OF RECOVERY
As your abdomen heals, you may have soreness and swelling. For comfort, continue to wear soft, comfortable, loose-fitting clothing. Some women opt for roomy dresses instead of pants and a top. It’s up to you whether you feel more comfortable in a dress.
The abdominal compression garment should be worn at all times (except while bathing). It helps minimize swelling and promote optimal wound healing and scarring. Dr. LoVerme will let you know how long to wear your compression garment. Some patients are advised to wear the garment (or a similar Spanx garment) for up to six weeks or longer.
After you have healed from surgery and the swelling has completely resolved, you will probably find that your wardrobe fits differently — namely, that pants and shorts are looser around your smaller abdomen. Most people go down a size or two (or more). You may opt to have your existing clothing altered by a tailor to perfect the fit, or you may treat yourself to a shopping spree for new options.
Even if you still wear the same size after surgery, your clothing should fit and flatter you better. You shouldn’t have a “muffin top” or a “spare tire” around your waist that hangs over jeans or pants. Your waist should look leaner and flatter, allowing you to try styles you never thought possible.
Some patients opt to accentuate their newly sculpted waist by adding stylish belts. A wrap dress is a classic piece that hugs a woman’s curves after tummy tuck. Skinny jeans and shorts are also more flattering with a firmer and leaner waist.
Gaining Weight After a Tummy Tuck
Patients may gain weight after their tummy tuck for a variety of reasons. By understanding how weight gain happens in the first place, you can do a better job of avoiding these pitfalls.
The most common culprit of unwanted weight gain is simply unhealthy lifestyle choices. Eating high-calorie foods while living a sedentary lifestyle can cause you to gain weight quickly. If you want to maintain a slim, lean figure, there’s no replacement for a balanced diet and regular exercise. No matter how many plastic surgery procedures you decide to undergo, establishing healthy habits is the best way to look and feel your best.
Your hormone levels fluctuate throughout the course of your life, starting first in puberty. They can also change depending on your diet, genetics, or age. If your hormones are unbalanced, your body may gain weight at a dramatic rate. If exercise and healthy eating aren’t enough to correct the problem, try talking to a doctor to see if you can be tested for a hormonal condition.
Stress puts pressure on nearly every part of your body and nervous system. It often causes people to eat more and sleep less—two things that both contribute to weight gain. Stress can also cause hormonal issues like the ones mentioned above. If you’re going through a tough patch, try activities such as exercise or journaling to help put your system back in alignment.
Post-Surgery Water Retention
Surgery puts a lot of strain on the body as it attempts to recover and heal. Sometimes water is retained in the spaces between your organs, leading to a bloated appearance. Swollen hands and feet can be a sign that you need more time to naturally process these fluids. Try to stay active and carefully follow any post-op instructions given by your doctor.
Which tummy tuck is right for me?
If you’re looking to get a tummy tuck, you’ve probably seen that there are a lot of options out there. The first thing to consider is whether you want to have a full abdominoplasty or a mini-tummy tuck. A full abdominoplasty involves removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen and tightening muscles.
If you’re looking to have more than just skin tightening, but also some muscle tightening, then this might be the procedure for you. On the other hand, if you’re not interested in muscle tightening but would like some extra skin removal, then a mini-tummy tuck might be right for you.
Another factor to consider when deciding whether to go with a mini-tummy tuck or full abdominoplasty is how many incisions will be required to do the surgery.
If your doctor recommends that one or two small incisions are all that’s needed, then you may want to choose this option as it will be much less painful and scarring afterward than if he requires more incisions (though there is no guarantee that multiple incisions are always necessary).
When will my stomach feel normal after tummy tuck?
Let’s be honest…A tummy tuck is a big operation and you can expect it to take a couple of months before you get back to normal. There are many types of tummy tucks, and the recovery time can vary depending on the extent of the surgery.
Tummy tuck recovery stages
Below, you’ll find a handy timeline for what to expect after tummy tuck surgery. Again, keep in mind the extent of your surgery can vary. For example, a mini tummy tuck is far less invasive than an extended Sculpt tummy tuck, which means a shorter recovery time. Your mileage may vary.
Now that we’ve said that, let’s dive into a typical tummy tuck recovery timeline that you may find useful as you prepare for tummy tuck surgery:
Week 1: This is no doubt the most difficult part of tummy tuck recovery. Tummy tuck pain, swelling and even bruising are common.You may even regret having a tummy tuck. Don’t worry – these feelings are normal and this, too, shall pass.
You’ll be walking bent over at this point, and will be spending most of your time resting from the comfort of your bed or sofa. Walking every day is vital to recovery. Even just a few minutes every few hours can help.
Driving is off limits for the first 2-3 weeks.
At the 7 day mark, you will come in for a follow-up appointment. Dr. Beldholm will change the PICO dressings. Click here to learn the benefits of PICO negative pressure dressings.
Week 2: The worst is behind you. You’ll still have some discomfort, but it will decrease day by day. Swelling is still prevalent. Numbness in the lower abdomen is also normal. Your tummy still feels tender, so you will likely still need help around the house from friends, family members or an aid. By day 10, most patients will start walking upright. You’re doing great. Hang in there!
Week 3: Congrats! Most patients are allowed to start driving after a tummy tuck at 2 to 3 weeks. Now that you can drive, it frees you up to have a lot more independence. You’ll still need assistance carrying heavy groceries, etc. at this point, though. By now, you should be feeling a lot better overall.
Swelling, discomfort and bruising will decrease greatly by this stage.
The lower tummy will most likely still be numb and feel a bit “alien” for the time being. That’s because the sensory nerves in the skin were damaged during surgery (this is normal, after all, you just had surgery). Feeling will return eventually. Numbness usually subsides within 3 months as the nerves repair themselves.
Week 4: Most patients return to work around 4 weeks post-op. Returning to work signals how far you have made it in recovery. It also helps patients feel good knowing they are back in a familiar routine, so you will start to feel more “normal” again.
Week 5-8: Each day is easier and easier. You will be amazed at how far you have come in such a short time. The worst of the swelling will start going away 1 to 2 months after surgery. Most patients can resume a full exercise routine at the 8-week mark.
Exercising after tummy tuck is beneficial. It not only shows how far you have come physically, but exercise can also improve your tummy tuck results by keeping you fit and healthy. You’ll also be able to handle lifting heavy objects like groceries without assistance, which makes life easier.
Week 9: You’ve made it to the 3-month mark. This is when most of Dr. Beldholm’s patients say they really start feeling “back to normal”. Some swelling will still be present, but it will be substantially less than it was a few weeks ago. There shouldn’t be any pain or discomfort at this stage and you will be completely independent. The scars will still be red at this stage. It can take a long time for surgical scars to mature.
In the weeks and months that follow, you will notice swelling reduce even more. As the swelling settles, your tummy tuck results will become more visible. It’s amazing to see the transformation that takes place.
Remember, just a few months ago you had a totally different body with loose skin and unwanted fat that made you feel pretty low. Clothes will fit better now, and you will start feeling more like yourself as you get used to your beautiful, flat tummy.
How long until I see the results of a tummy tuck?
Getting a tummy tuck is a big landmark in many patients’ lives. It is no wonder that they feel both excited and anxious to see the results of surgery. After all, it took a lot of time and effort finding the right surgeon, taking time off work, arranging rides to doctor appointments, etc. Not to mention, the cost of tummy tuck surgery.
After all that, of course patients wish they could see results right away. The truth is, you will see a noticeable improvement immediately after surgery. That unwanted loose skin and fat will finally be gone for good. But — and this is a BIG “but” — it takes a while to see the final results because of the swelling after surgery.
In Doctor Bernard’s experience, 12 to 18 months is how long it takes to see the final results of tummy tuck surgery. However, you will feel “normal” again by the 3-month mark.
Tummy tuck scar fading is usually what takes the longest. (Hint: If you want to fade tummy tuck scars faster, try Laser Genesis to reduce scar redness.)
Is a tummy tuck covered by insurance?
Although there are certainly medical and functional benefits to be gained through a tummy tuck, the procedure is not typically covered by insurance. Some related procedures, such as the panniculectomy – which is used to remove the excess skin of the pannus after weight loss – may be covered by insurance in certain cases.
Can I combine a tummy tuck with other procedures?
Yes! Many patients choose to combine their tummy tuck with additional procedures in order to maximize the results of their transformation as well as to cut down on expensive surgical fees in the long run. After weight loss patients may choose to have a tummy tuck, arm lift (brachioplasty), and thigh lift all performed simultaneously, for instance.
Another example of a combined procedure is the mommy makeover, which can be highly beneficial for women who have had children – and even those who haven’t. Some of the procedures most commonly combined with a tummy tuck as part of a mommy makeover include breast augmentation, breast lift, and Brazilian butt lift (BBL).