Once you have had kids or lost a significant amount of weight your belly just isn’t ever the same again. You may have loose skin and stretch marks or a belly that still looks like you might be expecting. Abdominoplasty, also called a tummy tuck, may be the right procedure for you. Abdominoplasty is a body contouring procedure that removes excess lower abdominal skin, tightens your abdominal muscles and restores your figure. The slimmer and more svelte appearance will leave you looking fabulous in clothes and on the beach.
The Best Candidates
- Have loose abdominal skin from pregnancies or weight loss
- Are motivated to maintain a healthy lifestyle with diet and exercise
- Do not have a history of blood clotting problems such as DVT or PE
- Have maintained a stable weight for 4-6 months (within 10 pounds)
- Want the self-confidence to wear body conscious clothing
- Are not taking blood thinners or using nicotine products
- Are satisfied with weight prior to body contouring surgery
A tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure and is not designed as a weight loss operation. If you would like to lose a few pounds or tone up a bit before undergoing surgery please let us know – at Restore SD Plastic Surgery we can provide referrals for nutrition guidance, medical weight loss, and personal trainers.
The tummy tuck is a very powerful and durable body contouring procedure. Most patients benefit from liposuction to maximize their results. Depending on your goals and starting point you may benefit from a limited scar – the mini-abdominoplasty – or if you have lost a great deal of weight, other more extended body contouring procedures. If you have lost a great deal of weight, the you might benefit from a fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty that removes even more skin via an additional vertical incision. Other options include a lower body lift which addresses your torso from all angles. Advances in surgical technique and technology continue to improve the results that are possible with body contouring surgery. In many cases, your procedure can be performed without the need for postoperative drains.
Every individual has a unique body type that may affect final placement of the incisions and your Restore SD surgeon will discuss your goals to arrive at the surgical plan that optimizes your results.
Abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia in an accredited surgery center or hospital setting. The surgery usually takes 2-3 hours to perform. During surgery, an incision is made across the lower abdomen from approximately hip bone to hip bone and around your belly button. The incision is planned low to allow coverage with your undergarments or a bikini bottom. The excess lower abdominal skin is removed and your rectus muscles (the six-pack muscles) are tightened. The remaining skin of your abdomen is carefully re-draped and your belly button is brought out through a small incision. After drain placement, your incision is meticulously closed in layers and surgical glue is applied. You will be placed in a post-operative compression garment before awakening and being taken to recovery.
After surgery is completed you will be able to go home with a responsible adult who should ideally be able to stay with you during recovery. You will need this friend or loved one to remain with you for a few days – you may need an extra set of hands for longer if you have very young children. You will wear a compression garment for 4-6 weeks after surgery and will see your surgeon for follow up frequently in the first several weeks after surgery. Your comfort during the recovery process is important to us and you will have pain medication, a muscle relaxant, and a stool softener prescribed. These will augment the long acting pain medication, Exparel, that will be injected at the time of surgery and lasts for up to 72 hours post-surgery. Prepare for some soreness that should resolve steadily over the first week or two after surgery. You will be restricted from lifting anything heavier than your purse for the first few weeks. You can shower the first day after surgery but cannot swim in the ocean or the pool or soak in a tub for 2 weeks after surgery. Most patients continue to make a steady recovery and you should be able to resume your usual activities within 6 weeks of their abdominoplasty.
We can arrange for you to hire a private nurse to assist you in the first few days after surgery. Our Restore SD Plastic Surgery office is conveniently located near a 5-star hotel. We are happy for you to spend a few days recovering in proximity to our office in beautiful La Jolla if this enhances your recovery.
Abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure and you should allow enough time to recover – so plan early! Do not plan to fly or travel by car more than an hour or two at a time for the first few weeks after surgery. During the recovery period, you will have follow-up with your Restore SD surgeon and will be guided back to your usual activities. Most complications occur from getting too active too early, so select a surgical date that allows an appropriate amount of time to heal and gradually return to your more vigorous activities. View Gallery
The Combined Procedures
Abdominoplasty is a powerful and durable body contouring operation and can be safely combined with several other procedures to include liposuction, breast augmentation, breast lift, gluteal fat grafting, or breast reduction surgery. Facial rejuvenation procedures can also be done at the same time in certain cases. Your Restore SD surgeon will discuss combinations of procedures that can be safely performed together while optimizing your result. We utilize the SAFELipo technique and feel this is the best and safest way of combining liposuction with tummy tuck when indicated.
- What happens at my tummy tuck consultation?
When you arrive at Restore SD Plastic Surgery to discuss a possible tummy tuck, your Restore SD surgeon will perform a detailed examination as well as review your medical history and any medications you are taking. At your consultation, you will have photos taken with our Vectra 3D imaging system and discuss treatment areas and options while viewing your photos series. With our state of the art Canfield software, potential surgical results can be viewed and adjustments can be made, helping you to visualize possible outcomes.
- Why should I choose Restore SD Plastic Surgery for my tummy tuck?
The surgeons at Restore SD Plastic Surgery have over a decade of experience with cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Drs. Douglas and Gallus are both board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgeons and active members of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. In addition to being fully credentialed, we take the time to listen to your goals and partner with you to develop the best and safest surgical plan that will optimize your results and leave you looking and feeling your best.
- Why is tummy tuck surgery for me?
Tummy tuck sounds cute, but is a major surgical procedure and not to be considered lightly. Pregnancy and aging can really do a number on your abdomen, and a tummy tuck restores the natural anatomic alignment of the muscles as well as removes the extra skin and lower abdominal stretch marks. Although non-invasive body contouring is effective in the right patient, no other procedure can remove the excess skin. The incisions will vary a little from person to person since everyone is built and proportioned a bit differently. Your Restore SD surgeon will discuss your options and partner with you to develop the best and safest surgical plan to maximize your results.
- How do I choose a surgeon?
It is important to ask if your surgeon is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. As Board Certified plastic surgeons at Restore SD, we have years of training and expertise in body contouring surgery that cannot be imitated by short courses and alternative certifications. Ensure that your surgeon is proficient in body contouring surgery and capable of handling any complications that may arise. The American Board of Plastic Surgery is one of 23 members of the American Board of Medical Specialties. These specialties represent the traditional core of fully trained specialists. Alternative boards have cropped up over the last several years to lend legitimacy to incompletely trained or poorly trained practitioners. Accept nothing less than a surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and who is a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS).
- How much time off work should I take after tummy tuck surgery?
Depending on your profession, you should expect to take a few to several weeks off from work. You will not be able to lift anything heavier than 10 lbs. or perform strenuous activities for 2 weeks following surgery. Patients cannot drive while taking narcotic pain medication and should plan to have a friend or family member drive them to and from appointments during the early recovery period.
- How do I minimize post-operative scarring after tummy tuck surgery?
Unfortunately, scarless surgery does not yet exist. Your Restore SD surgeons will educate you about scar management postoperatively. A surgical scar will take 9-12 months to fully mature. Your scar will go through changes during the healing process and your Restore SD team will help you manage this part of your recovery. This can consist of sun avoidance, scar massage, scar cream, and fractionated laser treatments.
- What should I do to prepare for tummy tuck surgery?
If you have close friends or relatives who have had a tummy tuck – start there! A personal story of their journey may guide you to questions to ask your surgeon, and having someone with a shared experience is invaluable. Educate yourself by reading our procedure page and viewing our educational videos. Other sources of information include RealSelf and WebMD. And remember to wear a button down front opening shirt on the day of surgery so that your post-operative experience does not include wrestling a shirt over your head!
- I am a smoker – can I have a tummy tuck?
At Restore SD Plastic surgery, we pride ourselves in delivering safe, consistent, and reproducible results. Smoking tobacco or using any nicotine products has adverse effects on wound healing. Your risk of tissue loss, infection, and prolonged incision healing are much higher if you use nicotine. We recommend a nicotine free period of 8 weeks prior to surgery and at a minimum 4 weeks post operatively. We have a simple urinary nicotine test that we complete in the office to help you on your journey to a safe and gratifying surgical experience with us.
- I have Diabetes – what do I need to know about having a tummy tuck?
If you have diabetes it is important to work with your medical team to maintain an ideal HbA1C. Diabetes can increase your risk for prolonged wound healing and certain types of infections. Surgery can be safely performed but requires a coordinated effort from patients, surgeons, and medical doctors to attain outstanding results. There are some instances where your Restore SD surgeon may want to postpone surgery until your diabetes is under better control.
- How soon can I travel after having a tummy tuck?
Having surgery means a commitment to an appropriate recovery. We recommend scheduling your surgery at a time that allows enough time to recover and gradually return to your normal activities. Flying, driving long distances, or leaving the immediate area are not recommended until you have been cleared by your surgeon. If you have specific travel needs or require advice for emergency travel soon after a procedure, please let us know and we will be glad to discuss the details with you.
- How much weight will I lose after a tummy tuck?
Tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure and is not a weight loss procedure. Taking off excess skin and fat can lighten the number on the scale, but that is generally a modest 1-3 pounds. The best results are seen when you have surgery at a healthy weight and are already committed to a healthy diet and a regular exercise program.
- What happens to my belly button?
Great question! Your belly button stays right where it is. The upper abdominal skin is pulled tight and after the excess skin is removed and the initial closure started, a small hole is cut in the middle of the abdominal skin and your belly button is brought out through the opening and inset with absorbable sutures. If you have a belly button hernia, that can be fixed at the same time as tummy tuck surgery.
- Will I need drains?
Maybe. Advances in techniques over the last few years now allow many patients to enjoy a drain-free recovery. Each surgery is unique and your Restore SD surgeon wants the best and safest outcome for you. We try our very best to do this surgery without drains, but don’t hesitate to use them if it is the best and safest course of action to optimize your result and safety. If liposuction is a significant part of your body contouring procedure, then drains are more likely to be used.
- What about liposuction at the same time as tummy tuck surgery?
Liposuction and tummy tuck are often combined to yield a dramatic result. We utilize the SAFELipo™ technique that maximizes results and safety. The hips, flanks, and thighs are the most common areas treated at the same time as tummy tuck surgery.
- What if I get pregnant after a tummy tuck?
Many full-term normal pregnancies have been reported after tummy tuck surgery. If you become pregnant after having a tummy tuck, please let your OB/GYN know and contact us with any questions or concerns. Pregnancy may stretch out your muscles and skin again, and touch-up surgery after pregnancy may be desirable to get back to your ideal look.
Dr. Trent Douglas and Dr. Katerina Gallus discuss tummy tuck surgery including the best candidates, combined procedures, and recovery.
Dr. Katerina Gallus and Dr. Trent Douglas discuss recovery from tummy tuck surgery.