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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 since the year 2000. There were approximately 120,000 performed in 2008, compared with 60,000 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.

Why People Choose Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

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 removed 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 complain of 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 that surgery can enhance what diet and exercise cannot is because the surgery addresses underlying anatomic and physiologic changes that occur with time and are not under the patient’s control.

About Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

The goal of the abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is to remove excess skin and fat and tighten and flatten 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 complaints may be a candidate for a mini-abdominoplasty. A “mini” utilizes a shorter scar, often only slightly longer than an existing caesarian section scar. 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.

Liposuction is a common adjunct combined with abdominoplasty. Sometimes, patients request liposuction when they really need a tummy tuck. 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. Stretch marks that are low on the abdomen can be removed 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, Dr. Liu will review all of these aspects of abdominoplasty with you.

The Consult

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.


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.

About the Operation

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 removed 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.


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.

Contact Liu Plastic Surgery

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.

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. An abdominoplasty (also known as a tummy tuck) involves removing excess skin and fat, as well as strengthening weakened, separated abdominal muscles, creating a smoother and firmer abdomen. This procedure is great for women who have had children or patients who have had major weight loss. Liposuction is the removal of excess fat in specific areas of the body to improve body contour. While this procedure removes excess fat, it does not address loose skin or abdominal muscle separation. For those that don’t want the downtime of surgery, CoolSculpting® is a great non-invasive option. The CoolSculpting® procedure uses controlled cooling to eliminate 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 Liu Plastic Surgery 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 surgical procedure, it is important to understand which mode of anesthesia is safest to achieve the desired aesthetic result. For tummy tucks, the standard method for patients is general anesthesia. However, not all general anesthesia is created equal. To make patients feel most comfortable and to offer the quickest recovery, the board-certified plastic surgeons at Liu Plastic Surgery use epidural-assisted general anesthesia for their tummy tuck patients. Epidural-assisted general anesthesia is a method in which the majority of the anesthesia is delivered through the epidural which is supplemented by a light general anesthetic. This form of “light” general anesthesia allows patients to have a quicker recovery with less of the side effects of “traditional” general anesthesia. The board-certified plastic surgeons at Liu Plastic Surgery have specialized their technique to provide their patients with the best experience and results.

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Out of Town Patients

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