A tummy tuck is generally an outpatient cosmetic surgery procedure. Some of our patients stay overnight in our recovery area, as do our facelift patients. It removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen and tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall. The result is a flatter, tighter abdominal profile.
A flat stomach is important to a physically fit appearance. However, a healthy diet and regular abdominal workouts cannot always eliminate excess fat and loose, sagging skin in the abdominal area, and there is no exercise to eliminate stretch marks from pregnancy or weight loss/gain cycles. If you are bothered by the appearance of your tummy, a tummy tuck, called abdominoplasty, may be a good choice for you.
For a non-surgical tummy tuck alternative, visit our ThermiTight page.
Good Candidates for a Tummy Tuck or Abdominoplasty
A tummy tuck is best suited for men and women who are in good health, close to their ideal weight, and who desire a more sculpted look to the abdomen. It is especially effective for patients with stretch marks and loose muscles in the belly, such as those who have experienced pregnancy and/or weight loss. It is an excellent procedure for those who have undergone massive weight loss, i.e., in the range of 100 lb. or more, as a result of weight-loss (bariatric) surgery.
Best results are obtained by:
- A healthy adult within 30% of his or her ideal weight
- An individual with stretch marks and sagging skin
- A non-smoker
- An individual with realistic expectations
It’s wise to understand that a tummy tuck is not a weight-loss method. Although this will eliminate skin and tissues, it is not a true weight loss surgery, yielding only a 1-2 lb. weight loss at best. Unfortunately, fat and skin don’t weigh very much! Patients who are closest to their normal body weight have the best results. If you have very loose skin and/or stretch marks, a tummy tuck will eliminate these problems. Dr. Berman will discuss all the options at your private consultation in his Boca Raton plastic surgery practice.
What to Expect from Your Abdominoplasty Consultation
Your private consultation with Boca Raton plastic surgeon Dr. Jonathan Berman is the first step for every patient considering a tummy tuck in South Florida. During this meeting, Dr. Berman will assess your physical and emotional health and discuss your specific cosmetic goals for the surgery.
You should arrive at your Tummy Tuck consultation prepared to provide information about:
- previous surgical procedures.
- past and present medical conditions.
- medications you are taking, including herbal remedies or nutritional supplements.
When examining your abdomen, Dr. Berman will evaluate:
- the quality of your abdominal skin.
- the location of any existing scars.
- the amount and location of any excess fat.
- the status of any underlying fat.
Dr. Berman may suggest other treatments to better meet your appearance goals. For example, some patients may benefit from liposuction alone or a limited type of abdominoplasty, such as a mini tummy tuck.
Reasons to Delay a Tummy Tuck
If you plan to become pregnant or to lose a significant amount of weight, you should discuss these plans with Dr. Berman, as undergoing a tummy tuck and then becoming pregnant can undo all your results. In a similar manner, losing a great deal of weight after a tummy tuck can leave you with sagging skin.
Scars from previous abdominal surgeries may limit the results of an abdominoplasty. However, in some cases, an existing scar can be used for the new incision, as is often the case for women with Cesarean section scars. Often, scars are removed during the tummy tuck surgery, including those from appendectomies and hernia repair.
How A Tummy Tuck is Performed
All cosmetic surgery procedures, including abdominoplasty are performed in the accredited ambulatory surgical facility in our Boca Raton plastic surgery suite. The operating room is accredited by the American Academy of Ambulatory Surgical Facilities, an external review association that inspects office-based operating rooms to assure the highest standards of safety. Because Dr. Berman has chosen the most experienced surgical scrub techs and surgical and recovery room nurses to assist him, you can rest assured that you will have the safest surgery possible. Dr. Berman only uses board certified anesthesiologists, rather than working with anesthesia nurses, to give his patients the highest quality anesthetic experience. With our certification, experienced staff and over 20 years of experience in plastic surgery, Dr. Berman’s patients may be safer in our operating room as in a hospital setting, because we don’t have the exposure to hospital-based bacteria. Additionally, our Boca Raton plastic surgery patients enjoy a much more personalized experience. This level of skill and comfort is hard to find but our patients are worth it! And PS: We have a -0- infection rate!
After marking the patient, general anesthesia is instituted by our board certified anesthesiologist. Incisions are then made in the lower abdomen just above the pubic bone. The skin and tissues are then undermined up to the rib cage, after which extra fat and skin are removed. The abdominal muscles are sutured to provide strength, and the skin and tissues are brought back down to the pubic bone area. Extra skin and fat are removed and absorbable sutures are placed to close the incision. Two temporary drains will also be inserted to keep the tummy flat during healing. A special surgical garment is then put on the patient, who is then transferred to the recovery area, to remain for a couple hours or until he or she is feeling ready to go home to recover, unless the patient elects to stay overnight and return the next day, as do our facelift surgery patients.
Recovery From A Tummy Tuck
Most of our tummy tuck patients find that they are most comfortable sitting in a recliner and even sleeping in one for the first 3-5 nights. All straining, bending and lifting must be avoided for the first several weeks. This includes lifting children, heavy groceries and exercise, other than walking. Dr. Berman encourages his patients to walk for exercise, which promotes circulation and speeds healing.
You will wear the compression garment 24 hours a day, removing it only to shower, for the first several days. You will be instructed to empty the drainage tubes and record the amount of fluid that has been removed. It’s important that you keep accurate records, as Dr. Berman will know when to remove the tubes based on the diminution of fluid. In most patients, the drainage tubes are in for 3-4 days.
Although everyone heals at a different rate, you can expect that your recovery will follow this general time line:
Within the first week
- you will see Dr. Berman 2-3 times
- drainage tubes are removed.
- bruising and swelling will reach its peak.
After several weeks
- you will no longer need to wear the support garment.
- you will increase your activity and exercise
- you can play tennis and/or job at 6 weeks
- you may return to non-strenuous work (typically within 2 weeks).
- bruising and swelling will continue to subside and you’ll begin to see your results.
After a few months
- you’ll see a truer picture of the final result of your surgery.
- feelings of numbness or tightness will disappear. Your incision line may begin to fade from its reddish color (full fading may take a year or so).
- in the months following surgery, it’s important to treat your healing skin with extra care – that means avoiding sun exposure and not wearing black or other dark colors when you are outdoors. Heat absorbed by dark colored clothing can actually burn your healing skin and complicate recovery.
Quite soon after surgery, you will see a noticeable difference in the shape of your body. Most people find that their firmer, flatter abdomen boosts their confidence and makes them feel more comfortable in clothing. In particular, women find that they are one to two clothing sizes smaller, and men often lose 1-3″ from the waist.
As the months pass, your incision line will continue to fade; however, it’s important to realize that your scar will be permanently visible. Many patients view the permanent scar as a small trade-off for their firmer, sleeker appearance.
Abdominoplasty produces long-lasting results. Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight, you can expect to retain your new shape for many years. Over time, gravity and aging may cause your skin to loosen somewhat. If this occurs, Dr. Berman can recommend treatments to restore a more youthful abdominal contour.