Abdominoplasty, more commonly referred to as tummy tuck surgery, can be one of the most rewarding procedures Reno plastic surgeon Dr. Tiffany McCormack performs at McCormack Plastic Surgery. Pregnancy and weight loss can cause the skin of the abdominal wall to become loose and may even leave permanent stretch marks behind. In addition, the abdominal wall muscles can become lax and cause the lower abdomen to appear more prominent. This condition is frequently unresponsive to exercise, dieting, or skin creams. A tummy tuck is designed to flatten and smooth the stomach for a slimmer silhouette.

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What is Abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty is a body contouring option that removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen while also tightening the underlying muscles. This can significantly minimize the appearance of a protruding abdomen and result in a sleeker abdominal profile. An incision is made low on the abdomen, near the pubic region, so any scarring can be hidden beneath underwear or a bathing suit bottom. The results from this surgery are often immediate and dramatic. A tummy tuck is also often incorporated as a key component in a Mommy Makeover, allowing mothers to regain their pre-pregnancy figure.

What Can Tummy Tuck Surgery Accomplish?

Even with a nutritious diet and regular exercise, many patients struggle to attain their physical goals. A tummy tuck can help men and women achieve a flatter abdomen and a more toned appearance by removing lax, excess skin. In some cases, liposuction may be combined with abdominoplasty to target isolated pockets of fat that are resistant to traditional means of weight loss. Ideal tummy tuck candidates are typically at or near their ideal weight, but still have areas of skin laxity or excess fat. The benefits of a tummy tuck may include:

  • Removal of excess skin and fat
  • Reparation of stretched or torn abdominal muscles
  • Flatter, smoother abdomen
  • Reduced appearance of stretch marks
  • Slimmer silhouette

Many tummy tuck candidates are patients who have lost a significant amount of weight, or women who have had one or more children. The best way to determine your candidacy for abdominoplasty is to schedule a consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon. After a physical exam, review of your medical history, and discussion of your personal goals, Dr. McCormack can recommend which body contouring procedure is best suited to your unique needs.

How Is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

Dr. McCormack can perform a full or mini abdominoplasty depending on the extent of your concerns. During a full tummy tuck, an incision is made low on the pelvis near the pubic region. The abdominal skin above the umbilicus (or navel) is lifted to allow tightening of the underlying musculature. The separated or weakened abdominal muscles are then repaired with heavy sutures, and redundant skin is removed while excess fat is extracted. This should help narrow your waistline and reduce the appearance of loose, stretched skin. The umbilicus is freed from the skin, but brought out through an additional incision. At this point, all incisions are closed and an abdominal binder/compression garment is placed over the treated area to support your new contours. The entire procedure typically takes two to four hours depending on the complexity of surgery and whether liposuction was also incorporated into your treatment plan.

Mini Tummy Tuck

For individuals with loose abdominal muscles and minimal skin excess, a “mini abdominoplasty” may be sufficient to achieve the desired outcome. This less extensive version of a tummy tuck typically results in a shorter scar. A mini abdominoplasty may be ideal for patients who wish to rejuvenate the appearance of the abdomen below the navel, while a traditional abdominoplasty can be more effective for improving the full abdomen. During the consultation process, Dr. McCormack will help you determine which version of abdominoplasty is best for your body and your health.

What Is Recovery from Abdominoplasty Like?

Drain tubes are left in place for approximately one week after surgery. Showering is permitted once the drain tubes have been removed. During your recovery, you will remain somewhat flexed at the waist and the knees to feel comfortable and to minimize tension on your incision. Heavy lifting, aerobic activity, and vigorous exercise should be avoided for six to eight weeks. Lifting should be limited to fifteen to twenty pounds during the first six weeks. Patients are encouraged to walk around as soon as it feels comfortable, as this will aid in their recovery. The abdomen feels “tight” for several weeks after surgery. Numbness is common in certain areas and may be permanent for some. The scar begins to fade two to three months later and may take one to two years to reach its final appearance. Swelling will resolve within six weeks by 75 percent, and the remainder will be gone after six months.

How Long Will a Tummy Tuck Last?

By surgically correcting the abdominal skin and musculature, a tummy tuck usually allows long-term results without the need for retreatment. Furthermore, the procedure can provide lifetime enhancement for patients who maintain a stable weight with minimal fluctuation. Unfortunately, significant weight gain after the procedure may alter the outcome of abdominoplasty by re-stretching the skin and transforming the shape of your new contours. Pregnancy after tummy tuck surgery can also change the quality of your skin, so Dr. McCormack advises pursuing abdominoplasty only after plans for having children are complete. For many patients, living a relatively healthy and active lifestyle is enough to preserve tummy tuck results for decades to come.

How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?

Each tummy tuck procedure is customized to meet the unique needs of the patient. As a result, there is no fixed price for the procedure. There are many factors that may impact the final cost of tummy tuck surgery, including the volume of excess tissue removed, whether liposuction is combined with abdominoplasty, fees associated with the operating facility and anesthesia, the experience of the plastic surgeon, and the geographic location of the practice. At the end of your initial consultation, Dr. McCormack will be able to provide you with an accurate quote for your custom-tailored tummy tuck before the start of any treatment. To accommodate the diverse needs of our patients, our practice accepts a multitude of payment methods and qualifying patients may take advantage of our numerous financing options, such as CareCredit®, Prosper HealthCare Lending, and ALPHAEON® CREDIT. These highly reputable healthcare finance providers can offer monthly installment plans with low- to no-interest rates to suit your budgetary concerns.

Will I Have Visible Tummy Tuck Scars?

Prospective tummy tuck patients often wonder how noticeable or prominent their scars will be after surgery. Most abdominoplasties are performed with an incision that spans from one hip to the other. However, Dr. McCormack typically places this incision very low on the abdomen, well below the waist. Women often find that the scar is easily concealed by their underwear or a bikini bottom. Prospective patients may also bring a favorite swimsuit or pair of underwear to their initial consultation so Dr. McCormack can factor in the location of the waistline when planning the procedure. She will also provide detailed post-operative scar care instructions to all patients to further minimize the appearance of scarring once the healing process is complete.

Is a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Possible?

While there are many exercise trends that claim to reproduce the outcome of abdominoplasty, achieving tummy tuck results without surgery is not possible. While natural remedies like dieting and exercise can certainly slim your figure through weight loss, no amount of abdominal workouts can resolve the tissue laxity that a tummy tuck is designed to address. This is also true of contour-shaping products like the Tummy Tuck Belt®, which refers to an abdominal binder that claims to non-surgically recreate tummy tuck results—even when the belt is not being worn. In truth, belts and girdles may smooth the abdomen while the product is in use; however, there is no scientific evidence or clinical support to lend credibility to the notion that the Tummy Tuck Belt® is able to tighten a hanging abdomen for the long-term.

A tummy tuck can create a powerful improvement in one’s abdominal contour because the procedure is designed to surgically repair stretched skin and musculature. Although non-surgical technologies cannot exactly replicate tummy tuck results, reshaping the abdomen without invasiveness is still possible with CoolSculpting® and BodyTite®—two med spa treatments that can reduce fat and improve skin tone, respectively. Dr. McCormack or our med spa professionals can discuss the best treatment option for your needs and goals during a consultation if non-surgical enhancement is desired.

Additional Abdominoplasty FAQs

What are seromas after tummy tuck surgery?

A seroma is a collection of fluid (called “serum”) that can accumulate under the skin, resulting in a visible lump or bump near a patient’s incision site(s). Seromas are very common after procedures like a tummy tuck, wherein a large amount of tissue is removed or disrupted. In reducing the possibility of a seroma, Dr. McCormack places drains after tummy tuck surgery to mitigate fluid buildup and help prevent a seroma from developing.

Should a seroma form after your surgery, long-term or serious complications from this fluid buildup are very rare. In some cases, the fluid reabsorbs over the following weeks and the seroma may resolve on its own. However, medical treatment may be necessary if you’re experiencing the symptoms of an infection—this can be a sign that a seroma has devolved into an abscess and usually warrants attention from a doctor.

Will a tummy tuck get rid of stretch marks?

The possibility of stretch mark removal generally varies from patient to patient based on where the stretch marks are located and the type of tummy tuck performed. Dr. McCormack can inform you of what can be accomplished during your consultation. If your stretch marks are found below the navel on the expanse of excess skin planned for removal, abdominoplasty may be able to reduce or completely eliminate the appearance of your stretch marks.

Is weight gain after a tummy tuck still possible?

Yes, a tummy tuck does not alter your ability to gain weight after the procedure. While it’s true that certain fat cells are extracted permanently during surgery, your remaining fat cells can still enlarge or shrink with an oscillating weight. Therefore, additional weight distributed in and around the abdomen is still possible. Dr. McCormack encourages regular exercise after abdominoplasty to help maintain your abdominal shape.

Will pregnancy after tummy tuck surgery affect my results?

Pregnancy after abdominoplasty can result in some of the most dramatic changes to your new body contours. Not only does pregnancy weaken and stretch the abdominal musculature once more, but skin laxity may also increase as excess fat accumulates. Combined, these factors can diminish the outcome of your initial procedure.

What’s the difference between liposuction and a tummy tuck?

Both body contouring procedures can improve the abdominal shape, but a tummy tuck and liposuction are designed to address different aesthetic concerns. Liposuction can sculpt the body by removing stubborn fat, but this technique is not capable of tightening the skin. In contrast, abdominoplasty is intended to smooth the skin and repair the abdominal muscles more so than to remove excess fat. Therefore, liposuction is generally reserved for individuals who desire selective fat removal alone—although this procedure can easily be incorporated into a tummy tuck for patients who seek comprehensive enhancement.

Is a plus-size tummy tuck possible?

Yes, a tummy tuck can provide good results for plus-sized patients and Dr. McCormack will help you assess the best approach to attain your goals. Although a consultation is necessary to definitively determine whether a tummy tuck can achieve your desired results, the procedure is generally most successful when patients are at or near their ideal weight. The risks involved with every surgical procedure — such as infection, blood clotting, and complications from anesthesia — are also typically lower when patients are at a healthy weight for their age, height, and body frame.

Can a tummy tuck get rid of a C-section scar?

In many cases, abdominoplasty can remove or minimize the scar left from cesarean surgery. Depending on the shape, size, and location of your scar, a tummy tuck may also be performed through your original C-section incision to help you avoid further scarring. Dr. McCormack will let you know whether this is possible after your consultation, where she will be able to show you the best incision placement for your tummy tuck procedure. It’s important to remember that while a scar from tummy tuck surgery is inevitable, the incision is typically made low enough to conceal any scarring with underwear or a bikini bottom.

What are the benefits of a tummy tuck versus a panniculectomy?

A panniculectomy is another procedure designed to remove excess skin and fat in the abdomen, often to help patients alleviate rashes, inflammation, and chafing caused by loose skin. However, unlike a tummy tuck, a panniculectomy does not repair the abdominal muscles. Tightening the underlying muscles after they have been stretched/weakened can have the effect of flattening a bulging midsection, which is an objective that’s not always possible with a panniculectomy. In this way, a tummy tuck may be able to provide more dramatic results than a panniculectomy.

How long will it take to recover from a tummy tuck?

While most patients will be able to return to their normal routines (except for exercise and strenuous activity) two to three weeks after their procedure, it can take approximately six weeks before the majority of healing is completed. Some residual swelling after a tummy tuck can last as long as six months to one year after surgery. Dr. McCormack will instruct you to wear an abdominal binder for a few weeks, which will help swelling subside and work to shape your new contours. Closely following all of Dr. McCormack’s aftercare instructions can maximize the body’s healing process and accelerate your recovery.

Is a tummy tuck safe?

Yes, abdominoplasty’s reputation as a safe and effective body contouring surgery is supported by both clinical results and decades of scientific research. Essential to your overall safety and satisfaction, however, is your candidacy for the procedure and the experience of your plastic surgeon. At our practice, a tummy tuck is one of the top procedures performed by Dr. McCormack. She is extensively trained in the various abdominoplasty techniques that achieve the most successful outcomes, and will fully inform you whether a tummy tuck (or another treatment option) is the most optimal solution to resolve your concerns. Dr. McCormack and our team take great pride in providing Reno patients with the skill and advanced training of a board-certified plastic surgeon who frequently performs abdominoplasty.

Questions? Our team is happy to speak with you about any concerns you may have. For more information about a tummy tuck, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. McCormack, please contact our practice today.

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