Questions to ask before getting a tummy tuck

If you’re a Mom body shaming yourself about your midriff in swimsuits or lingerie because of post-pregnancy bulging or loose skin, tummy tuck surgery is a proven solution.   The procedure removes stretched skin, tightens and flattens your core, and if well done, narrows your waist.  Surgery can’t replace the benefits of healthy eating and regular fitness challenges, but diet and exercise alone won’t reverse some pregnancy effects.  For many women, surgery is the only way, and results last a lifetime.  Also known as abdominoplasty, tummy tuck surgery reduces thickness of the belly fat layer, tightens loose or hanging skin, and defines surface contours for a more youthful feminine appearance.

Like many surgical procedures, tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is heavily “operator dependent.” Results depend on the operating surgeon rather than a consistent technology that can be applied by anyone.   Surgery is based on science, but remains an art.  When the procedure is cosmetic, YOU’RE the subject, so you need a masterpiece.  The first step toward the abdomen of your girlfriends’ collective envy is to know what you want, to research plastic surgeons, and to have realistic expectations.  Here’s a primer on some things you should ask:

  1. Know your plastic surgeon’s qualifications?

Formal training in abdominoplasty is within the specialty of plastic surgery.  However, many non-plastic surgeons perform some variation of tummy tuck without formal training or certification.  As obvious as it sounds, verify that your surgeon is a Diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery at abplasticsurgery.org.  In addition, your surgeon’s membership in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons demonstrates commitment to high standards of performance and professionalism. These qualifications imply that your surgeon has the education, experience, and background to perform a successful abdominoplasty.  Also, call the medical staff office of your local hospital to be sure your surgeon has privileges to perform tummy tuck.  Hospitals check and confirm surgeon training, certification, and ability before granting privileges.

  1. How many tummy tucks have you performed?

Abdominoplasty is a specialized cosmetic surgery, and your surgeon should regularly perform the procedure.  Even if your surgeon has extensive experience, look at his or her portfolio of unretouched “before and after” photos of previous tummy tuck patients.  Do you like the results?  If your belly were the one in the “before” photo, would you be pleased with the result in the “after” photo?  The surgeon’s gallery of tummy tucks helps you know what to expect from that doctor for your own result.  

  1. Where will the surgery take place?

Most cosmetic surgery is not performed in a hospital, but rather an office-based or freestanding outpatient center.  Accredited facilities maintain the highest standards for quality of staff, for safety, and for sterility.   Once you know where the surgery will take place, you can research the center to ensure it is accredited by AAAASF (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities) or another agency with high standards.

 

  1. Is a tummy tuck right for me?

If you are within 20% of your ideal body weight and have excess fat and skin over your belly from pregnancies, aging, or weight fluctuations, a tummy tuck may be indicated for your quality of life. You should be in general good health and a non-smoker for at least four weeks prior to surgery.  It’s preferable that future pregnancies aren’t planned.   If you’ve lost weight recently, your weight should remain stable for a minimum of six months prior to the surgery.  Women are not the only ideal candidates for tummy tuck surgery—men may be good candidates if they’ve experienced significant weight loss.

  1. What happens during the tummy tuck procedure?

3-D animated video explaining tummy tuck is HERE.   Abdominoplasty typically involves 3-4 hours under general anesthesia for complete muscular relaxation and waist tightening.  A C-section type opening is extended toward the sides, abdominal skin is lifted, connective tissue above and below the belly button is tightened, excess stomach skin and fat are removed, the abdominal surface is contoured, and remaining skin and fat are secured to the abdominal wall to prepare for healing.  At the end of tummy tuck, an aesthetic appearing belly button is restored.

  1. What is the recovery period like?

After tummy tuck, silicone rubber drainage tubes emerge from beneath bandages and a snugly applied elastic abdominal binder.  You’ll return to your surgeon for dressing changes, drain removal, and other follow-up care. For two to four weeks, physical activity is limited and analgesics (medication to control pain) are helpful. Four to eight weeks after tummy tuck, exercise is gradually resumed.  Recovery is a progressive process that varies among women.  Your body will let you know by comfort level what you’re able to do and when, so be sensitive to your body’s messages of discomfort and pain, usually a sign to moderate activity. 

  1. What are the risks and possible complications?

Although tummy tuck is a safe procedure, an uncomplicated course cannot be guaranteed in advance.  Your surgeon will review the risks, and preventive measures to avoid complications.  Be frank with your surgeon about your medical history, and if you’re concerned about the chance of a specific problem, ask questions until you understand what to expect.  An uncommon but serious complication of abdominoplasty is the formation of blood clots in deep veins of the pelvis or legs.  Leg swelling, extreme anxiety, chest pain, or difficulty breathing after surgery should prompt an immediate phone call to your surgeon.  

  1. Will the results change over time?

During weeks to months after tummy tuck, swelling slowly dissipates.  The abdomen becomes flatter, more mobile, less uncomfortable, and more naturally attractive.  Scar at the belly button and above your pubic area gradually fades, and skin ripples smooth.  Stretch marks may remain, but are often less prominent because of the smoother tighter skin surface.  Results of a tummy tuck are permanent unless you gain a considerable amount of weight in the years afterward.

 

  1. Can I get pregnant after a tummy tuck?

YES, you can, and tummy tuck will not interfere with growth of the baby.  However, your abdominal wall and skin may stretch again to some degree.

  1. How much does a tummy tuck cost?

The cost of tummy tuck surgery depends on your surgeon, your geographic location, your body, and what variation of tummy tuck is performed.  Including anesthesia, surgery center fees, post-surgical garments, and overhead expenses, expect to pay $7500 – $12,500.  Adding liposuction, breast augmentation, breast lift, and/or other procedures increase the cost.  In general however, the investment is a good one because there’s no depreciation and you’ll enjoy body confidence daily for years.  Medical insurance does not cover cosmetic surgery but may cover post-pregnancy hernia repair that is often performed at the same time as tummy tuck.  Financing and payment plans are flexible and available at most plastic surgery offices.  

Get the tight tummy of your dreams at Feel Beautiful, San Diego

If you want the life change of post-pregnancy abdominal tightening and flattening, a tummy tuck might be a good choice. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Steve Laverson at Feel Beautiful San Diego Cosmetic Clinic, call at (858) 295-4001.

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