Has significant weight loss or pregnancy left you with loose skin? If you’re looking for a way to restore your waistline and your confidence, a tummy tuck – also known as abdominoplasty – could be the solution you’ve been looking for. This popular procedure removes excess skin and gives you the toned, flat stomach you desire. But what exactly is a tummy tuck, and is it right for you? This guide will tell you what to expect before, during and after tummy tuck surgery.
Before Surgery: Deciding if it is Right for You
Understanding the procedure and what it can accomplish for you are essential first steps.
- Who makes an ideal candidate for the procedure?
While a tummy tuck can be a great procedure for many, it’s not suitable for everyone. Ideal candidates are often people who are in reasonably good health and at or near their goal weight before surgery. Many of Dr. Tepper’s tummy tuck patients are moms in their forties or fifties looking to restore their pre-pregnancy look.
- How can you find the right surgeon for your tummy tuck surgery?
It’s important to do your research when choosing a surgeon. Look for a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in tummy tuck surgery, like Dr. Tepper. Check their credentials and review before-and-after photos of his work. Then, schedule a consultation with Dr. Tepper to discuss your goals and concerns. Good communication between patient and surgeon is key to getting your desired results.
- How much does the procedure typically cost? Does insurance cover it?
The cost of a tummy tuck varies by surgeon and geographic region, with an average cost ranging between $10,000 and $15,000. There may be additional costs such as concurrent liposuction, breast enhancement or lifting, or an overnight facility stay. Insurance usually does not cover this procedure.
- How can you prepare for a tummy tuck?
Preparation for a tummy tuck can include adopting a healthier diet, achieving a stable weight and reducing alcohol consumption. Smoking is a deal-breaker so if you’re a smoker, you would need to stop smoking for 3 months. Dr. Tepper will provide you with specific instructions based on your specific health needs before surgery.
You’ll need to arrange for someone to drive you home after the surgery and assist you for the first several days of your recovery.
During Surgery: How it Works and What to Expect
Let’s look closer at how a tummy tuck works and what you can expect during surgery.
- What happens during tummy tuck surgery?
Before the surgery starts, you’ll be given general anesthesia to ensure you’re completely asleep and won’t feel any pain during the procedure. Once you’re comfortably asleep, Dr. Tepper will make an incision from hip to hip, usually about where the top of your bikini bottoms lie. Dr. Tepper will tighten your abdominal muscles using a series of sutures. This helps to give a firmer and more toned appearance to the area and cinch the waistline. Dr. Tepper then removes extra skin and fat from your tummy. Once all the necessary adjustments are done, Dr. Tepper closes up the incision using stitches before you’re taken to recovery.
- What happens to the belly button during surgery?
The belly button is actually connected to the abdominal muscles underneath the skin. To make sure it stays in the right spot, a small cut is made around the belly button. Then, after the skin is tightened, a hole is carefully made so that the belly button pokes through the skin in about the same place as it was before the surgery.
After Surgery: Recovery and Results
This is what you can expect post-operation.
- How long is the recovery period?
Recovery from tummy tuck surgery can take several weeks. During week one, patients often have discomfort and tightness, which can be managed with medication. You will wear a surgical binder continuously to reduce swelling, and some patients have drains in place to remove excess fluid from the surgical site. Your focus during this time should be on getting plenty of rest and healing.
During week two, many patients start to feel better and can move around more comfortably. Some patients can return to work and light daily activities, but they should still take it easy. By week four, most patients are able to resume most of their usual activities. It is advisable to wait six weeks before resuming more strenuous activities, such as Pilates or tennis. Since every patient’s recovery timeline is different, it is important to follow the instructions for your specific case.
- What sort of scarring can you expect afterward?
The scars will be visible for several months after the surgery but are often thin and easily covered by most forms of clothing.
- What kind of results can you expect after the procedure?
It’s important to have realistic expectations. While a tummy tuck can remove excess skin and fat and tighten the abdominal muscles, it is not a weight loss procedure nor a substitute for a healthy lifestyle. For many patients, a tummy tuck surgery can provide a smoother, more toned abdominal area that significantly enhances their self-image and confidence.