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Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)

Abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck" is a surgical procedure that is designed to treat:

  • Excess skin
  • Excess fat tissue
  • Muscle bulging in the abdomen due to:
    • Genetics
    • Pregnancy
    • Weight fluctuation

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Is a Tummy Tuck Right for Me?

While typically an aesthetic enhancement, an abdominoplasty can be performed as part of a panniculectomy (removal of excess skin from the lower abdomen) after massive weight loss surgery. Working with other surgical specialists, this procedure can be done in conjunction with a gynecological procedure, such as a hysterectomy, or with a urologic or general surgical procedure.

Types of Tummy Tuck Procedures

There are two types of tummy tucks: full and partial.

During a full abdominoplasty, the doctor will make a horizontal or curved incision just below the waistline. The goal of the full abdominoplasty is to remove excess skin across the whole abdomen.

A partial abdominoplasty involves the removal of excess skin in the navel area, or around the belly button.

Before the Procedure

Your plastic surgeon will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your abdominal area including a detailed history of:

  • Pregnancy
  • Previous abdominal surgeries
  • Weight loss or weight gain

Some of the specific instructions you'll receive about preparing for surgery include:

  • Medications to avoid
  • Proper washing techniques
  • Restrictions regarding eating and drinking the night before surgery
  • Smoking cessation
  • When to take your prescribed medications

Procedure Details

You and your plastic surgeon will discuss the concerns you have about your current abdominal shape and your goals regarding the abdominoplasty procedure. There are different variations of procedures that include short or long incisions, and differences in areas of muscle tightening. Liposuction of the abdominal wall or in the hip and flank regions may be appropriate for some patients.

Your surgeon will decide which procedure is best based on your goals and anatomic issues. The approximate location of the incisions and scars will be outlined directly on your skin or on a diagram.

Finally, your surgeon will perform a careful evaluation of your overall health as well as issues that could cause complications, such as:

  • Bleeding tendencies
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Blood pressure
  • History of adverse scar formation after previous surgeries

Types of Anesthesia for a Tummy Tuck

An abdominoplasty usually is performed under general anesthesia, however, certain types of lower abdominoplasties or “mini' abdominoplasties can be performed under local anesthesia with the use of intravenous sedation.

Where Do I Go to Have Surgery?

An abdominoplasty is usually done in a hospital as outpatient surgery, and you must be driven to and from the hospital by a friend or family member. Your surgeon may want you to stay one night in the hospital to recover with the help of skilled nurses.

Tummy Tuck Recovery

In most cases, you may experience pain for 24 to 72 hours. Swelling can occur in the abdominal wall tissue but this usually resolves within a month of surgery.

You will be encouraged to get out of bed the night of surgery and should be able to walk slowly by the next day. Most patients can go out in public within three to five days. Patients are generally asked to take at least one week off from work, but those who have highly physical jobs may require more time off.

Suction drains are routinely used following abdominoplasty procedures to help ensure wounds from the surgery heal properly. These drains are simple to care for, and patients will be given instructions at the time of discharge.

You may be instructed to use an elastic abdominal binder to keep the area comfortable with gentle pressure. Vigorous physical activity is limited for four weeks following surgery.

Anticipated Results

Abdominoplasty usually produces a rejuvenated, more youthful and attractive abdominal shape.

Tummy Tuck Risks and Safety

An abdominoplasty typically enhances the appearance of your abdomen but is considered major surgery. You should think carefully about your expectations and talk with your plastic surgeon about your goals of the procedure. In addition to the risks associated with anesthesia, complications may include:

  • Asymmetry of the abdomen
  • Hematomas (localized bleeding outside of a blood vessel)
  • Scarring
  • Seromas (collections of fluid beneath the abdominal skin)

Not every person is a good candidate for this procedure, and your risks may be greater or different than those of other patients. Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to the surgery.

Insurance and Financing

Health insurance rarely covers the cost of elective medical procedures. Call 1-877-639-9688 to discuss alternative payment options with UPMC experts.

Patient Experiences and Stories

UPMC experts have extensive experience performing plastic surgery services like tummy tucks. Read about how our experts helped Eric improve his health and regain his confidence.