An abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that aims to achieve a flatter, smoother abdomen for those with excess abdominal skin and fat. During the procedure, this excess skin and fat are removed, and the abdominal muscles are tightened, resulting in a sleeker tummy. Pregnancy and substantial weight loss are two reasons that people commonly end up with loose abdominal skin. The best candidate for a tummy tuck is someone who does not smoke, is not planning to have any more children, and is in good physical condition and at a stable weight. If you are considering tummy tuck surgery, here are a few things you should know.
- A tummy tuck is not a weight-loss procedure
Most patients lose a few pounds during their tummy tucks because of the weight of the excess skin that is removed. However, this is a procedure for someone who is already at their ideal weight. It’s a mistake to view tummy tuck surgery as a weight-loss procedure; it is essentially more of a contouring procedure. Also, realize that while your tummy tuck will not directly affect the appearance of your stretch marks, it will most likely move or lower them, or possibly remove them if they are confined to the lower abdomen.
- Insurance probably won’t cover it
Most of the time, a tummy tuck is considered an elective procedure and is not covered by insurance – and it isn’t cheap. There may be certain situations where an insurance company will cover part of the cost of a tummy tuck that’s required for a medical reason such as hernia repair or because the reason for the excess skin is massive weight loss (thereby solving another medical problem), but this is rare. Most patients will need to save and budget for the cost of their surgery itself as well as prescription medications and medical supplies.
- Your Dallas plastic surgeon may also recommend liposuction
Surgeons often recommend receiving liposuction in conjunction with your tummy tuck. Liposuction allows the surgeon to perform more finely-tuned sculpting at the waist, giving you the svelte, curvy appearance, you want. During a tummy tuck, the skin on your abdomen is pulled straight down, sometimes creating unnatural-looking bulges or a lack of definition. Liposuction can be used to correct these problems for a more pleasing result. Do keep in mind that this is a separate procedure that comes with its own cost and recovery time – but most patients find that the results are worth it.
- You will need help at home for a while
Most patients who have a tummy tuck or a mommy makeover can return home the same day. However, you will need someone around who can help you out for a few days to a week. During recovery, it will be difficult to change position or stand up; you’ll also need help with food preparation, bathing, dressing, and all the normal daily activities you usually do on your own. You also won’t be able to lift anything over 10 pounds for several weeks, which is a special consideration for mothers of little children.
- You will have a scar
There are different types of tummy tuck scars. The location and size of yours depend on the type of surgery you need; your Dallas plastic surgeon can tell you what to expect. Patients who have a traditional procedure will have a scar that stretches from hip to hip, usually low enough to be hidden below the bikini line. As your belly button is relocated, there will also be a small scar around it. In some cases, a patient needs only a small amount of skin removed, so a mini tummy tuck may be an option. If so, the scar will be smaller, a little longer than a scar from a C-section. Patients who need a tummy tuck after weight loss surgery or other significant weight loss may have a large scar that resembles an upside-down T.
- It will be hard to stand up straight for a few days
Because your abdominal muscles are tightened and the skin is pulled taut during a tummy tuck or mommy makeover, you’ll likely find it impossible to stand up straight for a period of days or even weeks. This issue will also affect your sleep; many patients find it most comfortable to sleep in a recliner or with pillows to prop up the legs and back to allow you to relax. It’s typically during the second week after surgery that most patients can lie flat comfortably.
- The benefits are more than just cosmetic
Appearance is the most common reason that people choose tummy tuck procedures. However, looking good in your clothes is far from the only benefit. Some patients find that their tummy tuck helps with urinary incontinence as well as their core support and strength, which can improve problems such as bloating and back pain.
Your tummy tuck and recovery experience may be a physical and emotional roller coaster but rest assured that most patients find within weeks that they would do it all over again. When your clothes fit better, and you’re enjoying the confidence that comes with loving the way you look, it will all be worth it.