You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Abs are made in the kitchen.” But sometimes diet and exercise aren’t enough to get exactly what you want in your midsection. Bodies also change over time thanks to:
- Normal aging
- Prior surgeries
- Fluctuations in weight
Even people within a healthy weight range can develop a midsection that protrudes or is loose and sagging. If you’re unhappy with how your body has changed over time and want to feel better once and for all, a tummy tuck might be your solution.
Tummy Tuck: An Overview
Tummy tuck surgery (abdominoplasty) removes excess skin and fat from your midsection. In most cases, it restores weakened or separated abdominal muscles to create a slimmer, more toned middle.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Tummy Tuck procedure, check out our before-and-after gallery here.
Before & After
Who’s Eligible for a Tummy Tuck?
According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, you’re a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery if:
- You are physically healthy and at a stable weight.
- You have realistic expectations.
- You don’t smoke.
- You are bothered by the appearance of your abdomen.
If you’ve already lost a great deal of weight or were pregnant, you might have unwanted stretch marks. A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks unless they’re located on the excess skin that’s removed during surgery.
If you’re planning on becoming pregnant, you may want to wait until after you’ve had children for a tummy tuck. Results can be lost due to major fluctuations in weight.
Tummy Tuck Techniques
There are a few types of tummy tuck surgery, each with its own benefits.
Classic (“Full”) Tummy Tuck
This addresses your upper and lower abdomen, using a horizontal or U-shaped incision above the pubic mound. A second incision goes around the navel if you have excess skin above your belly button.
Extended (“Around the World”) Tummy Tuck
This tummy tuck procedure addresses excess, sagging skin around your midsection. It involves a longer incision than the classic tummy tuck because it removes “hanging skin from the front (upper and lower abdomen) and the flanks, as well as tightens the abdominal wall” (American Board of Cosmetic Surgery).
Mini Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck involves only one incision. The American Board of Cosmetic Surgery (ABCS) suggests the mini tummy tuck technique if you’re “bothered by a ‘pooch’ or loose skin and stretch marks below the belly button.” The surgery itself is shorter than a full tummy tuck, and the recovery quicker.
Learn more about mini tummy tucks here.
The Difference Between a Tummy Tuck and Liposuction
Both liposuction and a tummy tuck remove excess fat and require a plastic surgeon and anesthesia to complete. But that’s where the similarities end. Liposuction suctions out small fat deposits from any part of your body you choose. A tummy tuck focuses on your midsection. Dr. Ver Halen sews together the muscles in your abdominal wall and trims excess skin to get you a flat, contoured stomach. Liposuction often takes multiple procedures to achieve the results you want, while a tummy tuck trims your midsection with just one three-hour surgery.
Does a Tummy Tuck Cause Scars?
Because tummy tuck surgery requires an incision to remove excess fat and skin, scarring occurs. The extent of the scar depends on the type of tummy tuck Dr. Ver Halen recommends for you.
- Classic and extended tummy tucks – Horizontal scar from hip to hip
- Mini tummy tuck – Horizontal scar a few inches long
With proper post-op scar care, tummy tuck scars generally fade well. They are also typically easily hidden beneath a swimsuit bottom.
Tummy Tuck: The Consultation
Dr. Ver Halen is an experienced, Board-certified plastic surgeon with your best interest and care at heart. During your one-on-one tummy tuck consultation with him, he’ll go over the following:
- Your desired outcome and expectations
- Medical history, as well as any current medical conditions
- Current use of prescription drugs, dietary supplements, alcohol, tobacco and/or recreational drugs
- The use of anesthesia during tummy tuck surgery and any potential risks of the procedure
After a thorough discussion, Dr. Ver Halen will offer his professional recommendation based on your unique needs.
He or one of his medical associates will take photographs of your midsection. These images will help you visualize how tummy tuck surgery can change your body and drastically improve your overall shape.
Tummy Tuck: The Procedure
Tummy tuck surgery with Dr. Ver Halen takes place at our Colleyville office or at our surgery center in Plano. In preparation for surgery, you may be asked to stop taking certain medications. Smokers will be asked to stop smoking one month before surgery to minimize risks.
Expect the procedure to last several hours, especially if liposuction or muscle tightening is required.
The general procedure for a tummy tuck goes like this:
Step 1: Anesthesia is administered either locally, intravenously, or generally. Dr. Ver Halen will discuss the best option for you.
Step 2: Dr. Ver Halen makes a horizontal incision along your pubic mound to remove excess fat and skin and repair weakened abdominal muscles.
Step 3: If necessary, a second incision will go around your belly button to remove excess skin from your upper abdomen. Dr. Ver Halen then creates a new opening for your belly button.
Step 4: The incisions are closed with sutures, skin adhesives, or clips. In many cases, surgical drains are not used.
Tummy Tuck: Post-Surgery Care & Recovery
Dr. Ver Halen may recommend an overnight hospital stay, or he may clear you to leave that same day. Even with an outpatient tummy tuck, expect to stay put for a few hours after surgery.
Since tummy tuck surgery involves your abdominal muscles, you will be uncomfortable for the first week or so. Some patients have a small tube placed under the skin to drain excess blood and fluid. Dr. Ver Halen and his team will instruct you on how to clean the area. Be sure to ask any questions you have about the post-op experience, as everyone’s recovery process is different.
Within a couple weeks, you can resume driving, cooking, and other routine activities. Most people can return to work in two to four weeks, especially if you have a desk job. Mini-tummy-tuck patients usually return in closer to four days. If your job is more strenuous, plan to take a full month off. Avoid lifting anything over 25 pounds too soon after surgery, as this can compromise your incisions and prolong recovery.
It’s important that you continue to care for your health after your tummy tuck, as the results can be greatly diminished if you experience significant fluctuations in weight post-surgery. For this reason, people who are planning to lose substantial weight or women who are considering pregnancy should postpone tummy tuck surgery.
Tummy Tuck Risks
The decision to have plastic surgery is one only you can make. After speaking with Dr. Ver Halen, you decide if his recommendation will achieve your desired results. Before the procedure, we’ll ask you to sign consent forms to make sure you fully understand the tummy tuck procedure and its risks.
Tummy tuck risks include:
- Anesthesia complications
- Possibility of revision surgery
- Accumulating fluid
- Poor wound healing
- Numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- Skin loss
- Discolored skin and/or prolonged swelling
- Unfavorable scarring
- Recurring looseness of skin
- Death of fatty tissue (fat necrosis)
- Pain that persists
These risks and others will be fully discussed during your consultation and prior to consent. Dr. Ver Halen is happy to take all the time you need to address your questions and any concerns you have.
How to Pay for Tummy Tuck Surgery
Dr. Ver Halen accepts several payment options, including healthcare credit cards issued by Synchrony Bank (CareCredit®) and Comenity® Capital Bank (Alphaeon Credit®). You may also choose a secured loan from United Medical Credit or Enhance Patient Finance. United Medical Credit is suitable for prime and subprime lenders and has multiple plan options and flexible terms.
You can also pay by:
- Credit card
- Cashier’s check
- In-house financing
- Other types of loans
Losing weight or going through life’s natural changes shouldn’t leave you feeling uncomfortable in your own skin. At Ver Halen Aesthetics and Plastic Surgery, we’re happy to help you get the body of your dreams. Book your consultation today to discuss what’s best for you!