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Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

body7Abdominoplasty, also known as a “tummy tuck,” flattens and contours the abdomen and waist. The number of tummy tucks performed in the United States has increased dramatically in the last 20 years. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), there were approximately 160,000 tummy tucks performed in 2020 compared to 60,000 operations in 2000. A tummy tuck can be performed by itself or combined with other procedures as part of a “Mommy Makeover.” Common procedures combined with abdominoplasty include breast augmentation, breast lift, and liposuction.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

The goal of the abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is to treat excess skin and fat by tightening and flattening the abdomen. In addition, liposuction is often combined with abdominoplasty to improve the sculpting and contouring of the figure. The end result is a more aesthetic abdomen with regards to tone, shape, and figure. All this is performed using the shortest scar possible to achieve the desired goal. The scar can be carefully placed to be easily concealed with fashionable clothing or swim wear.

Patients with only mild concerns may be a candidate for a mini-abdominoplasty. A “mini” procedure utilizes a shorter scar, often only slightly longer than an existing caesarian section scar. A mini tummy tuck is most appropriate for patients with excess skin and fat confined to the lower abdomen (below the belly button). A mini-abdominoplasty is often combined with liposuction or muscle tightening, if necessary, to optimally contour the abdomen.

Stretch marks that are low on the abdomen can also be treated during a tummy tuck. Because stretch marks represent fractures or breaks in the deep layer of the skin, there is no other treatment besides removal. During your consultation, one of our fellowship-trained plastic surgeons — Dr. Jerome Liu or Dr. Tom Liu — will review all of these aspects of abdominoplasty with you.

What Can a Tummy Tuck Accomplish?

The tummy can change significantly over time as the skin and muscles of the abdomen get stretched out and relax, especially with pregnancy, aging, and weight fluctuations. These events can challenge even the most athletic and fit individuals. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) can address the excess fat, loose skin, and weakened muscle tone that can occur over time. During a tummy tuck, the excess skin and fat are treated and, in patients that require it, the muscles are tightened. Abdominoplasty is not a substitute for weight loss – rather, it complements a balanced diet and exercise program.

Women who have a tummy tuck often struggle to improve one or more of the following:

  • Excess or loose abdominal skin
  • Stretch marks
  • Pockets or deposits of fat that won’t go away
  • Soft tummy
  • Laxity/weakness of abdomen following pregnancy (rectus diastasis)
  • Loss or blunting of waistline or figure
  • Combination of excess/loose skin and fat

Despite a healthy lifestyle, patients are often concerned about the appearance of their stomach even after working out and dieting. Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) can address all of these issues and improve the contour, shape, and figure of the body. The reason why surgery can enhance what diet and exercise cannot is because the surgery addresses underlying anatomic and physiologic changes that occur with time, which are not under a patient’s control.

Is a Tummy Tuck Right for Me?

If you’re bothered by any of the concerns listed above and would like to have a flatter or slimmer abdomen, a tummy tuck can be very transformative. The procedure is usually most successful for women and men who are:

  • At a stable weight
  • Non-smokers
  • Healthy enough to undergo surgery and recovery
  • Able to maintain realistic expectations for the potential results

By perusing our tummy tuck before-and-after photos, you can gain an idea of whether the results in our patient gallery align with what you hope to achieve for the outcome. If your desires are consistent with the results depicted, you may benefit greatly from a tummy tuck. A consultation with a plastic surgeon is always necessary to confirm your candidacy for a tummy tuck, as well as to learn about alternative or complementary treatment options that may help you reach your cosmetic goals. 

Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction

Abdominoplasty involves removing excess skin and fat, as well as strengthening weakened or separated abdominal muscles. This creates a smoother and firmer abdomen. If you’re bothered by hanging or stretched skin in the abdomen, a tummy tuck may be a more effective procedure to remove excess tissue when compared to liposuction. The procedure can be beneficial for women who have had children or for any patient who has undergone major weight loss.

Liposuction is a common adjunct combined with abdominoplasty, but does not remove excess skin on its own. Therefore, patients sometimes request liposuction when they really require a tummy tuck to achieve their goals. Liposuction is the removal of excess fat in specific areas of the body to improve body contour. While this procedure is noted for eradicating excess fat, it does not address loose skin or abdominal muscle separation. Liposuction is best for removing deposits of fat in patients with excellent skin tone and elasticity. If there is a significant amount of loose skin, such as following weight loss and multiple pregnancies, liposuction alone is usually not enough to deliver an ideal result. 

What to Expect During Your Tummy Tuck Consultation

Your initial consultation will take approximately 60 minutes. During this time, Dr. Liu will take a thorough medical history, help you with the decision making process, and answer all of your questions. The goal of the consultation is for you to obtain all the information you need to make an informed decision regarding abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) and the alternatives and adjuncts to the operation. If you have questions about combining this procedure with another procedure, Dr. Liu will discuss this at your consultation as well.

Pre-Operative Information

Approximately 2 weeks prior to surgery, you will have a pre-operative appointment. At this time, you will sign the surgical consent, have photos taken, and receive an information packet. The pre-operative packet includes detailed instructions for before and after surgery. DO NOT shave for 48 hours before surgery. It is important to avoid aspirin, ibuprofen, and other blood thinning medications for at least two weeks before surgery. Also, do not eat or drink anything after midnight on the evening prior to surgery.

How is the Abdominoplasty Procedure Performed?

The procedure takes approximately two to three hours, depending on the patient, and is performed under general anesthesia by an anesthesiologist. Having an anesthesiologist present allows Dr. Liu to concentrate on attaining the best cosmetic result possible instead of dividing his attention between the operation and monitoring the vital signs of the patient.

The incision for an abdominoplasty is placed very low on the tummy. If there is a caesarian section scar, this is addressed during the operation. The incision is placed low enough to be concealed by fashionable clothing or swim wear. We ask that you bring your favorite clothing to your appointment so that we can demonstrate the anticipated scar placement. All incisions are closed meticulously with multiple layers to achieve the best possible result.

Mini Tummy Tuck

A more abbreviated form of the tummy tuck procedure is also available for patients who may not require a full abdominoplasty to achieve their goals. Commonly known as a “mini tummy tuck,” the procedure is designed to address excess skin and weakened musculature; however, the incision utilized is shorter than a standard abdominoplasty. A mini tummy tuck is generally intended for individuals with more mild to moderate concerns primarily in the lower abdomen, and our plastic surgeons will help determine whether this technique is able to successfully achieve your goals. 

What is Recovery From a Tummy Tuck Like?

Patients are encouraged to walk the evening of surgery to prevent blood clots. The recovery period lasts 1 – 2 weeks to resume normal daily activity. Strenuous activity or heavy lifting is to be avoided for 3-4 weeks if the abdominal muscles are tightened with gradual increase thereafter. Combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise, the results of an abdominoplasty or mini-abdominoplasty are long lasting.

How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?

A tummy tuck generally costs between $13,500 and $15,000 depending on the details of your unique treatment plan. This range includes the sum of all surgical fees, such as expenses for the anesthesia, operating facility, post-operative care, and other related costs. You can be confident that our office will be able to provide you with a personalized quote after your needs and goals are assessed in a consultation. Factors that may affect your total cost estimate include:

  • The type of tummy tuck performed
  • The surgical technique utilized
  • The complexity of your procedure

While insurance companies do not provide coverage for cosmetic surgery, patients may make their tummy tuck more affordable with our plastic surgery financing options. Our practice accepts patient financing from CareCredit®, ALPHAEON Credit, and Prosper® Healthcare Lending, which are all highly reputable healthcare lenders widely utilized for aesthetic treatments and procedures. Once approved, qualified patients can choose from an array of low- to no-interest payment plans to find the best arrangement for their budgetary concerns. Please call our office if you have any questions about the cost of a tummy tuck or our accepted payment methods.

Better late then never writing my review.
Last October i came in for a tummy tuck. I was at the point where i gained up to 250 after high school and loosing over 100 pounds altogether left me with unwanted skin. I was very nervous when i came even speaking to Beth over the phone. I am the type of person who is very uncomfortable with my skin and showing my excess skin to anyone who I wasn’t comfortable with. When i arrived i felt very warm and welcomed. Everyone greeted me warm, friendly and made me feel comfortable. When it was time to schedule for my pre-op appointment i became nervous, i didn’t want to do it anymore and i had so many thoughts running through my mind. Was this right for me. That day when i came i had brought my mom in with me and by the time i went to take photos i made her leave. I was embarrassed even for the doctor to sit there and look at me and to take photos. By the end of all this and going through my tummy tuck, i realized it was all me inside. I was the one afraid and these people have done nothing but made me feel comfortable and answered my calls, emails whenever i needed help or had concerns. They are the most professional people I’ve met from a plastic surgeon and to this day as i go into 5 months post op, Beth still continues to help me achieve greater success and help me with any new treatments and surgeries that I may like. I would definitely welcome anyone who is looking for a cosmetic surgery to come here. They do an amazing job! they don’t judge you and respect you for who you are and understand that no one is perfect, but they help you achieve greater results 🙂 I go back next month for my 6th month follow up and i cannot wait!

Jessica Clayton

March 18, 2016

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Are There Alternatives to a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck can be a great option to contour the abdomen, but other procedures at Silicon Valley Institute for Aesthetics may be able to address your concerns more effectively. Our plastic surgeons also offer a comprehensive body lift, which is performed after weight loss surgery, to eliminate excess skin around the upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. Abdominoplasty can be incorporated into an all-encompassing lower body lift, or performed alone depending on your areas of concern. These post-bariatric body contouring procedures can get rid of loose skin and tissue left behind after massive weight loss. Similar to a Mommy Makeover, your treatment plan can be personalized according to which regions exhibit loose, hanging skin. 

While non-surgical procedures will never achieve the same quality of results as a tummy tuck, BodyTite® by InMode offers a minimally invasive option to provide some improvement to the abdomen. Often combined with liposuction, BodyTite® can tighten loose tissue and reduce fat on the abdomen by emitting radiofrequency (RF) energy above and below the skin, thereby destroying fat cells and stimulating collagen production. Although the results will not compare to a surgical tummy tuck, BodyTite® can allow patients to achieve temporary enhancement without surgery, downtime, or anesthesia. The best candidates for BodyTite® are typically near their ideal weight and have relatively good skin tone. 

Additional Tummy Tuck FAQs

What’s better for me – a tummy tuck, liposuction, or CoolSculpting®?

Before undergoing a body transformation, it is important to consider all options available. For patients who consider their abdominal area their target area for a body makeover, there are several procedures available to them. For those that don’t want the downtime of surgery, CoolSculpting® can be an excellent non-invasive option. The CoolSculpting® procedure uses controlled cooling to target fat in typical “problem areas” of the body. Because CoolSculpting® is a non-invasive procedure, there is no downtime, no anesthesia, and no incisions or scarring. This type of procedure is great for patients with isolated areas of pinchable fat in areas often stubborn to diet and exercise, such as the abdomen, back rolls, flanks, inner and outer thigh, and under the chin to name a few.

Determining which procedure is right for you depends on your anatomy and overall goals. At a consultation appointment, the board-certified plastic surgeons at Silicon Valley Institute for Aesthetics and designated staff can help you decide which procedure is best for you!

Are there different options for anesthesia for a tummy tuck?

When considering a tummy tuck, it is important to understand the type of anesthesia being used and its safety. The board-certified plastic surgeons at Silicon Institute for Aesthetics have perfected their technique of working with the anesthesiologist to perform the surgery under a “twilight” type of light anesthesia. This technique minimizes the risks to the patient while allowing excellent pain control and rapid recovery. We also give patients a pain pump to provide continued local anesthetic after surgery to minimize the need for pain medication. Most patients use very few pain pills and can quickly resume non-strenuous activities. This results in higher safety and a superior surgical experience and recovery.

What will my scars look like?

Tummy tuck scars are placed low on the abdomen, just above the pubic area, similar to where a cesarean section scar would be. Although a traditional tummy tuck scar typically extends from hip to hip, Dr. Jerome Liu and Dr. Tom Liu will use the shortest incision necessary, so the length of your scar depends on your unique treatment plan. Regardless of the technique used for your abdominoplasty, the resulting scar can usually be concealed by most underwear and swimsuit varieties. Immediately after the procedure, your scar may appear red, but the scar will gradually fade over time. To encourage proper healing, aftercare instructions provided by your surgeon should be followed carefully.

When can I return to my daily activities?

All tummy tuck patients are required to walk around immediately after surgery and every day thereafter. Walking is one of the most important components of the healing process and prevents many of the complications of surgery. However, no strenuous activity or chores are allowed during the recovery period. Most patients will need to take a week off of their regular routine in order to heal. Following that time, low-impact activities may be resumed, but vigorous exercise and other strenuous activities should be avoided for approximately 3-4 weeks. Each patient heals at a different rate, and recommended recovery times can vary based on your individual treatment plan, so personalized aftercare instructions can be provided to you prior to surgery.

Can I still have children after a tummy tuck?

Dr. Jerome Liu and Dr. Tom Liu advise patients to wait until they are done building their family before considering a tummy tuck—however, abdominoplasty should not affect one’s ability to have a successful pregnancy later in life. In the event that you become pregnant after your initial tummy tuck, you may experience some changes that affect the outcome of your surgery. Some women are not bothered by these changes, but a revisional surgery can be performed to restore your original abdominoplasty results, if desired.

When will I see the final result?

Complete healing takes six weeks, although subtle changes can be seen for up to one year. Bruising fades quickly, and the majority of the swelling and inflammation resolves in a few months. If you wish to see results by a specific time, such as a wedding or other major event, we generally advise scheduling your surgery for at least two months prior to the occasion you are preparing for.

How long do results last?

Following surgery, if a healthy lifestyle and stable weight is maintained, the results of your tummy tuck should not be affected and can be long-lasting. However, significant weight change and/or pregnancy can often alter your initial outcome. If you wish to address these changes, a secondary surgery can be scheduled at a later date to reestablish your previous contour.

Can tummy tuck be combined with other procedures?

Yes; abdominoplasty is frequently combined with breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction, and/or other procedures for a comprehensive Mommy Makeover, or with other body contouring procedures such as an arm lift for individuals seeking to address loose skin after major weight loss. Depending on your specific concerns, Dr. Jerome Liu or Dr. Tom Liu can create a customized treatment plan that addresses your unique needs and aesthetic goals.

Contact Silicon Valley Institute for Aesthetics

Whatever the reason, abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) can lead to significant aesthetic and personal benefits for the right candidate by enhancing the waistline and sculpting the shape of the body. To find out if abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is right for you, please make an appointment with Dr. Jerome Liu or Dr. Tom Liu.

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*Individual Results May Vary
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