What Is Tummy Tuck Surgery?

A tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery designed for patients who are unhappy with the appearance of their abdomen. These patients struggle with one or more of the following issues:

  • Loose or sagging abdominal skin after pregnancy or weight loss
  • A protruding belly caused by separated abdominal muscles (a condition known as diastasis recti)
  • Stubborn abdominal fat that hasn’t responded to diet and exercise

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, tummy tucks were in the top 5 most popular cosmetic procedures in 2017. Their popularity skyrocketed between 2000 and 2014 and has continued to rise steadily ever since.

As techniques and technology have improved, these procedures have become increasingly safer and more effective. A modern tummy tuck performed by an experienced board-certified plastic surgeon is a straightforward procedure with just a few weeks of downtime and a scar that is typically easily hidden.

The Benefits of Tummy Tuck Surgery

Cosmetic Benefits of Abdominoplasty

Tummy tucks can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen, particularly when abdominal liposuction is used during the surgery. After pregnancy, for example, a woman’s body may not return to its former state due to the trauma of childbirth. Sometimes, even exercise and diet will not tighten the skin or the muscle. The same can happen after drastic weight loss, such as when someone loses 100 pounds or more — the stretched skin in the area may remain even after much of the abdominal fat has diminished.

Medical Benefits of Abdominoplasty

Additionally, there may be medical benefits associated with abdominoplasty. Several studies have shown that patients with stress urinary incontinence (SUI), a bladder control problem common in postpartum women, can benefit from tummy tucks.

These procedures can also help to improve abdominal tone and promote better posture. A tummy tuck surgically tightens the muscles that flatten the abdomen. Weak abdominal muscles often are associated with lordosis, an incorrect curvature of the spine. Abdominoplasty patients often find that their posture has improved significantly because their abdominal muscles can better support their spine. This results in improved posture and, in turn, often relieves certain kinds of back pain.

What Types of Tummy Tucks Are Available?

Depending on each patient’s needs, there are several approaches to tummy tucks that vary in procedure and results, including:

  • Mini tummy tuck
  • Full (traditional) tummy tuck
  • Extended (circumferential) tummy tuck
  • Fleur-de-lis tummy tuck

The mini tummy tuck, for example, is a smaller procedure that focuses only on the lower belly. An extended tummy tuck (also called a circumferential abdominoplasty or lower body lift) can address excess skin and fat around the hips. A fleur-de-lis tummy tuck focuses on removing large amounts of skin from the entire abdomen. This type of abdominoplasty is beneficial for massive weight loss patients who have skin that camouflages their now smaller body shape.

What Happens During My Tummy Tuck Consultation?

At the Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Centers of El Paso, one of our expert surgeons, Dr. Jabor, Dr. Reynolds or Dr. Aburto, will meet with you to help determine which tummy tuck approach will be best for you. They can also help you understand other treatments that might make sense for you, including different body sculpting techniques or other surgeries that you can combine with your tummy tuck. Many of our patients, for example, choose to undergo liposuction or buttock augmentation for a balanced body transformation.

Schedule your consultation with us today to learn more about your options for a tummy tuck in El Paso.

The Abdominoplasty Procedure

No matter which type of tummy tuck is right for you, the procedure will consist of a few main steps. First, you will be given general anesthesia to ensure you are sleeping and comfortable throughout the procedure. Then, your surgeon will make a precise incision according to your technique.

Where Are the Incisions Made for a Tummy Tuck?

Traditional Tummy Tuck Incision

In a traditional tummy tuck — the most common type — the incision will extend between your hip bones, approximately where your lower belly meets your pubic area.

Mini Tummy Tuck Incision

A mini tummy tuck will use an incision in the same location as a traditional tummy tuck, but it is generally shorter.

Extended Tummy Tuck Incision

An extended tummy tuck will also use the incision above the pubic area, but it extends around the hips and onto the lower back. This is known as a circumferential incision because it goes around the circumference of your body.

Fleur-de-Lis Tummy Tuck Incision

The incision for the fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty involves the incision above the pubic area as well, and it also uses a vertical incision from the pubic area up to the bottom of your rib cage. This technique allows for maximum skin removal.

How Are the Abdominal Tissues Addressed?

The incision gives your plastic surgeon access to the muscles and tissues of your abdomen for making the following corrections:

Reducing Fat

With this access, your surgeon can excise excess abdominal fat and reduce body fat with liposuction if needed.

Tightening Muscles

Your plastic surgeon will bring separated muscles back together and tighten the muscle layer with internal sutures.

Smoothing and Tightening Skin

Your skin will then be pulled down so it is smooth and taut over your abdomen, and the loose skin (and usually stretch marks) will be removed from the lower abdomen.

Creating a New Belly Button Opening

If an incision was created around your belly button, a new opening will be made in the skin that now covers it. The edges of the opening will be stitched around the belly button to create a natural-looking navel.

Closing Your Incisions

Once the underlying tissues have been smoothed and repositioned, your surgeon will suture your skin back into place along the initial incision to leave you with a flatter belly and sculpted waistline.

What to Expect During Tummy Tuck Recovery

After a short wait in our recovery room, you’ll be released to return home and begin the healing process. Since you’ll be woozy from your anesthesia, you’ll need a trusted friend or family member — preferably someone who will be home with you during your recovery — to pick you up and bring you home.

Dr. Jabor, Dr. Reynolds or Dr. Aburto will give you and your designated responsible party a variety of recovery supplies and information, such as:

  • Written instructions, tips and suggestions
  • Extra wound dressings
  • Pain medications or a written prescription
  • Emergency contact phone numbers
  • The date of your first follow-up appointment

How to Prepare for Tummy Tuck Recovery

It’s a good idea to prepare your home for your recovery prior to your surgery. Create a relaxing place where you can sleep or rest comfortably; stock up on healthy, easy-to-eat foods; enlist someone to watch over small children or pets and make sure you have someone to help you get around for at least the first few days.

How Long Is Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Most of our tummy tuck patients take three to four weeks away from work and most daily responsibilities. You’ll feel swollen and somewhat sore during this period, and it’s best to keep your abdomen at rest as much as possible.

Around six weeks after your surgery, you’ll be able to resume light exercise. Between two and three months post-op, Dr. Jabor, Dr. Reynolds or Dr. Aburto will likely clear you for all regular activities.

It can take up to six months for all residual swelling to resolve and for your scar to begin to settle, though you’ll be feeling back to normal and noticing the difference in your appearance well before this.

What Results Can I Expect After Abdominoplasty?

After your tummy tuck, you can expect a slimmer, more toned abdomen with smooth, tight skin. Your abdominal muscles will be stronger, which may improve your posture and alleviate back pain.

How Long After a Tummy Tuck Do You See Results?

Patients often see what their tummy tuck results look like after about eight weeks. This is because most swelling and bruising will be gone by that point, which will allow your more slender, contoured abdomen to show. However, some minor swelling may persist for several months, after which you will see your full abdominoplasty results.

Are Tummy Tuck Results Permanent?

Yes, the results of abdominoplasty are considered generally permanent. Your skin and fat removed during surgery cannot come back, and your repaired muscles will remain tight due to the internal sutures. However, weight gain or a subsequent pregnancy could force your muscles and skin stretch again, and the fat cells that remain in your abdomen can increase in size if you gain weight.

To maintain the best tummy tuck results, we recommend leading a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a nutritious diet.

Will I Have a Scar After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Since this is a plastic surgery procedure that requires incisions, scarring is inevitable. Luckily, abdominoplasty leaves behind a largely unnoticeable scar that can usually be hidden by undergarments or swimsuits and fades significantly over time. The vast majority of tummy tuck patients find that the scar is well worth their overall results — a waist and abdomen they can once again be proud to bare.

Tummy Tuck FAQs

Who is a good candidate for a mini tummy tuck?

If you have a very small amount of skin excess and stretched muscles localized below your belly button, you may qualify for this less extensive procedure. Unfortunately, most patients need the maximal amount of skin removed for the best improvement.

Who is a good candidate for an extended tummy tuck?

An extended tummy tuck can address loose skin and excess fat around the entire midsection, not just the abdomen. If you have lost a significant amount of weight or had multiple pregnancies or multiple births (twins, triplets, etc.), an extended tummy tuck might be right for you. However, if you haven’t experienced weight fluctuations or pregnancy and have these concerns, you may still qualify for an extended/circumferential tummy tuck.

Are tummy tucks only for women?

No, some men are good candidates for tummy tucks, especially if they have achieved significant weight loss. The same procedure and principles apply.

Will a tummy tuck remove my stretch marks?

Many abdominoplasty patients have stretch marks (striae) on their midsection from their skin stretching in this area. Luckily, most of these indented streaks appear on the lower abdomen, where loose skin and extra fat tend to accumulate. These stretch marks will be eliminated if they are on the excess skin your plastic surgeon removes during surgery. Stretch marks on the upper abdomen will be repositioned lower and may appear less noticeable after the skin is tightened.

If you have bothersome stretch marks left after your tummy tuck, we offer laser treatments that can reduce their appearance.

How much weight can I lose with a tummy tuck?

A typical abdominoplasty can remove several pounds of unwanted skin and stomach fat. However, it’s important to remember that weight loss is not the goal of this procedure but, rather, a secondary and minor benefit. Tummy tuck surgery is intended for removing excess abdominal tissue and tightening the muscles for a flatter, more toned midsection, not for weight loss.

What weight should I be at for a tummy tuck?

Patients who are at or close to a healthy weight achieve the best tummy tuck results, but patients who are satisfied at a heavier weight can still undergo the procedure. If you lose weight before your procedure, you should maintain your weight for at least six months before undergoing abdominoplasty to allow your tissues to stabilize.

Can I get the same results as a tummy tuck from diet and exercise?

While a healthy diet and exercise regimen can certainly improve the appearance of your abdomen, there are some issues only tummy tuck surgery can address. Separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti) can be corrected to a degree with abdominal exercises, but even after working diligently, some muscle separation may remain that gives you a belly pooch. When it comes to dieting to reduce fat, you can’t spot reduce fat from your abdomen. So even after reaching your goal weight, you may be left with stubborn belly fat. Loose skin is the hardest to address with a healthy lifestyle, and abdominoplasty is usually needed to eliminate it.

Can a tummy tuck be covered by insurance?

When a tummy tuck is medically necessary, it may be covered by insurance. To be deemed medically necessary, it must be needed to treat a certain condition, disease or injury. For example, if your excess skin causes irritation like rashes, the skin removal portion of your procedure may be covered by insurance.

In most cases, a tummy tuck is considered an elective cosmetic surgery, and insurance will not cover the cost.

What happens if a woman has a tummy tuck and then gets pregnant?

She should be able to have the child without any fear of harm to herself or her child. However, the overall results of the tummy tuck may be diminished after the pregnancy.

Contact the Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Centers of El Paso

At Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Center of El Paso, we go above and beyond in order to provide the best patient care, and our tummy tuck clients are certainly no exception. Our board-certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Jabor, and Dr. Aburto perform many abdominoplasties each year and always stay up to date on the latest techniques to keep you safe and satisfied. Our entire team is highly experienced and trained to ensure that you have the best possible outcome, from our customer service to our providers.

If you are interested in a tummy tuck in El Paso, Texas, contact the Cosmetic Surgery and Laser Centers of El Paso today. We will help you schedule your personalized, one-on-one consultation to get started.

Call our West El Paso location at 915-543-5600, or our Eastside office at 915-855-7800.

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