Am I a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
Good candidates for a tummy tuck usually identify with all of the following:
- 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 a BMI of 30 or less (you can calculate your BMI online)
- 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 their weight prior to body contouring surgery
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus will determine whether or not you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck on an individual basis during your consultation, since pre-surgical health depends on many factors. “Tummy tuck” sounds cute, but it is a major surgical procedure and not to be considered lightly. Dr. Gallus will discuss your options and partner with you to develop the best and safest surgical plan to maximize your results.
A tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure; it 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. Dr. Gallus will be happy to provide referrals for nutrition guidance, medical weight loss, and personal trainers.
What happens during abdominoplasty surgery?
Pregnancy and aging can really do a number on your abdomen. A tummy tuck restores the natural anatomic alignment of the muscles, removes extra skin, and removes some lower abdominal stretch marks.
During surgery, an incision is made across the lower abdomen from approximately hip bone to hip bone, placed low enough that you will be able to easily hide it with your undergarments or a bikini bottom. An additional small incision is made around your belly button. Through your incisions, your rectus muscles (the six-pack muscles) are tightened, and the excess lower abdominal skin is removed. The remaining skin of your abdomen is carefully re-draped and your belly button is brought out through a small incision.
For some patients, we place a drain in the incision to promote healing after surgery. (In many cases, your procedure can be performed without the need for postoperative drains.) Your incision is meticulously closed in layers, and surgical glue is applied. You will be placed in a post-operative compression garment before you wake up and move to recovery.
Your tummy tuck procedure options
Advances in surgical technique and technology continue to improve the results that are possible with body contouring surgery, and many patients decide to either combine procedures or choose a somewhat different procedure after meeting with us in a consultation.
For most of our tummy tuck patients, we combine liposuction with a tummy tuck to remove unwanted fat and maximize their results (this technique has been used for many years and is considered to be safe.) Dr. Gallus utilizes the SAFELipo technique, which she feels is the safest way of combining liposuction with tummy tuck.
In addition to a traditional tummy tuck technique, Dr. Gallus offers a mini tummy tuck (also called a limited scar tummy tuck or mini-abdominoplasty), which may be sufficient to reach certain patients’ goals.
Alternatively, if you have lost a great deal of weight, you may desire other more extended body contouring procedures. After weight loss, many patients benefit from a fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty that removes even more skin via an additional vertical incision. Another option after weight loss is a lower body lift, which addresses your torso from all angles.
Every individual has a unique body type that may affect your surgical plan and the final placement of your incisions. We will work closely with you before surgery to ensure we create a surgical plan that is tailored to your lifestyle, your body, and your desired results.
Combining tummy tuck with additional procedures
To meet your body contouring goals, abdominoplasty may be safely combined with several other contouring procedures, including liposuction, breast augmentation, breast lift, gluteal fat grafting (Brazilian butt lift, or BBL), breast reduction surgery, or gynecomastia surgery (male breast reduction). After pregnancy in particular, it is common to combine a tummy tuck with a breast augmentation, breast lift, and/or liposuction—this procedure combination is called a mommy makeover. In certain cases, facial rejuvenation procedures can also be performed at the same time as a tummy tuck, including facelift and/or neck lift, eyelid lift, and brow lift.
During your consultation, Dr. Gallus will review your complete medical history and discuss procedures combinations that can be safely performed together to optimize your results.
Recovery after a tummy tuck
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. Abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure, and planning ahead is the best way to ensure you allow yourself enough time to recover. Here is what you can expect during recovery from tummy tuck surgery:
- You will need help from a friend or loved one. After surgery is completed, you will be able to go home with a responsible adult. They should remain with you for a few days as you recover. If you have very young children, you will likely need an extra set of hands for a longer period of time.
- You will experience some soreness. Your comfort during the recovery process is important to us, and you will have pain medication, a muscle relaxant, and a stool softener prescribed. Prepare for some soreness in your abdomen that should resolve steadily over the first week or two after surgery.
- You will wear a compression garment. To improve results and promote healing, you will need to wear your compression garment for 4-6 weeks after surgery.
- You will have some restrictions for about 6 weeks. 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 you cannot swim in the ocean or the pool or soak in a tub for 2 weeks after surgery. You will also need to avoid flying or traveling by car more than an hour or two at a time for the first few 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 your abdominoplasty.
- Dr. Gallus will be there for you every step of the way. During the first several weeks of your recovery period, Dr. Gallus will see you frequently for follow-up visits, and she will guide you back to your usual activities gradually.
To enhance your peace of mind during recovery, we can arrange for you to hire a private nurse to assist you in the first few days after surgery. Or, some patients may choose to spend a few days recovering in proximity to our office in beautiful La Jolla; our Restore SD Plastic Surgery office is conveniently located near a 5-star hotel.
Choose board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus for your tummy tuck in San Diego
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Katerina Gallus holds over 15 years of experience as a cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon. Her priority is taking 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. To schedule your personal consultation, call our office at 858-224-2281 or reach out online.
Tummy Tuck FAQ
Tummy Tuck Recovery
In this episode of Carpools and Cannulas, Dr. Gallus and Dr. Greer discuss everything tummy tuck surgery, including who is a good candidate, procedure combinations, and recovery.