Are You a Good Candidate For a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is generally recommended if you have loose muscles or skin. If your only concern is stubborn pockets of fat, then liposuction may be a better option. In some cases, liposuction and tummy tuck can be performed together for more comprehensive results; for example, a combination procedure may be recommended if you want to flatten your stomach in conjunction with getting rid of “love handles” or a bra bulge.
Abdominoplasty procedures can have amazing results for the right candidate. However, not everyone is a good candidate for surgery. The best candidate for a tummy tuck is someone who:
- Is in good health
- Is near their ideal weight or moderately overweight (not obese)
- Has large fat deposits and loose abdominal skin and/or muscles
- Is not a smoker
Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should postpone a tummy tuck until they have reached their goal weight. Women planning future pregnancies should also wait, as the vertical muscles tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy. In rare cases, scars from a prior abdominal surgery may prevent you from having a tummy tuck.
The ideal candidate also has realistic expectations for their results. While one’s body contour can be greatly improved after a tummy tuck, you should not expect this procedure to bring back your youth or provide you with a perfect figure. In addition, you should be aware that a tummy tuck results in a permanent long scar along the bikini line.
How is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?
A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure usually done under general anesthesia. An incision is made just above the pubic hairline, and curves into the region of the hip bone. The length of the incision varies depending on the amount of skin to be removed. A small incision is also made around the belly button to free it from the surrounding skin for final positioning.
The skin flap is then elevated, the underlying abdominal muscles are tightened, and excess lower abdominal skin is excised. The position of the navel remains unchanged. For optimal contouring, liposuction may also be performed.
Since a tummy tuck is a complex surgery, it is essential to choose a plastic surgeon who is:
- Board certified
- Well-versed in body contouring surgery
- Has good reviews and a before-and-after gallery
Tummy Tuck vs. Full Body Lift
If your main area of concern is the abdomen, a tummy tuck is likely all you need. However, if your concerns extend to your hips, back, and thighs, then you may benefit from a full body lift, which is also called a belt lipectomy. A full body lift tightens the skin and removes excess fat from the stomach, back, lateral thighs, and buttocks, resulting in a more extensive contour improvement than a tummy tuck alone can provide. Like a tummy tuck, a full body lift can also be combined with liposuction for even better results.
Drain-Free Tummy Tuck
Dr. Bottger offers “drain-free” abdominoplasty for most patients. This technique involves the use of progressive tension sutures, which eliminate the space under the abdominal skin flap and reduce the tension on the closure site. Eliminating drains minimizes post-operative pain, increases patient mobility after surgery, and avoids the significant hassle of taking care of drain canisters, which require periodic evacuation. Plus, a drain site can be an access point for bacteria which could potentially lead to infection.
What are the Risks of Abdominoplasty?
While the abdominoplasty procedure is considered very safe as long as it is performed by a well-qualified surgeon, there are inherent risks that go along with any surgical procedure. It’s important to be well informed of the risks before deciding to undergo elective surgery.
Abdominoplasty risks can include:
- Unfavorable scarring
- Excess bleeding or hematoma
- Changes in skin sensation
- Contour irregularities
- Healing delays
- Fluid accumulation under the skin
- Pulmonary complications
Dr. Bottger will discuss all potential complications with you in detail during your consultation. Remember that although significant complications can occur, they are uncommon. However, if you are a smoker, your risk of potential problems during the healing period greatly increases. You should quit smoking for at least a month prior to surgery in order to decrease these risks.
What is Recovery From a Tummy Tuck Like?
Abdominoplasty is an involved and complex surgical procedure, and may require an overnight stay in the hospital. In some cases, it can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Dr. Bottger will let you know beforehand whether you can expect a stay in the hospital or not.
Following your surgery, you should refrain from any strenuous activity and take it easy at home. You can usually shower after 48 hours, and resume light exercise and work within two weeks. It’s vital to follow all of Dr. Bottger’s post-op care instructions in order to heal properly.
There is usually some pain after a tummy tuck, but Dr. Bottger will prescribe pain medications for you to help make recovery tolerable. Your abdominal skin may be numb, but sensation should return over the next few months.
Full recovery from abdominoplasty takes a few months, but most patients are able to return to work and their everyday activities within just a few weeks. Aerobic exercise and weight lifting can usually be resumed after six to eight weeks.
How Long Will a Tummy Tuck Last?
After having a tummy tuck, your figure will be slimmer with a flatter stomach and tighter skin. Most patients lose several inches around their waist. However, in order to maintain these results, we recommend embarking upon a healthy lifestyle change. Poor eating and exercise habits will put inches right back on, ruining your good results.
In order to keep your new figure, you should:
- Avoid excessive weight gain by eating a healthy diet
- Incorporate exercise into your daily routine
- Drink lots of water (not soda or other sugary drinks) to stay hydrated
- Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
As long as you maintain healthy habits, your tummy tuck results should last indefinitely. Weight gain, pregnancy, and further sagging skin due to age are the main factors that could necessitate a second tummy tuck procedure.
Can You Get Pregnant After a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck should not affect your ability to become pregnant. However, we recommend waiting to have a tummy tuck until you are finished having children, perhaps incorporating the procedure into a Mommy Makeover. While it is possible to have another child after a tummy tuck with no risk to you or the baby, the chances are high that the results you obtained from your tummy tuck may be compromised.
If you happen to get pregnant after having a tummy tuck, the best way to preserve your results is to avoid large weight gains during pregnancy. While this is not always easy, it is a worthwhile pursuit, as you would be able to preserve your tummy tuck results as much as possible while doing your overall health a favor.
If you can keep your pregnancy weight gain to a minimum, you may only need a mini-tummy tuck in order to regain the results of your original procedure.
Can a Tummy Tuck Get Rid of Stretch Marks?
Stretch marks are an unwanted, yet very common, side effect of pregnancy and there are very few effective ways to remove them. Some lasers can help to reduce their appearance, but can’t get rid of them entirely.
Luckily, a tummy tuck can in fact remove stretch marks, as long as those stretch marks are located below the navel. Unfortunately, stretch marks above the navel will not be completely removed; however, they will be transferred to a much lower position on the abdomen that is easier to hide with underwear or a bikini bottom.
What Will My Tummy Tuck Scars Look Like?
Abdominoplasty scars generally appear low on the pubis and extend from hip to hip. While a visible scar from tummy tuck surgery is inevitable, it should be easily hidden beneath underwear or a bikini bottom. The scar can also fade to some extent over time, especially if you properly care for your incision as it heals. Dr. Bottger will advise you on the best wound-care techniques when he provides recovery instructions after surgery.
Is a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Possible?
Many patients wonder about the possibility of a minimally invasive tummy tuck alternative that can achieve comparable results to a surgical procedure. Although there are some non-surgical treatments that can remove unwanted fat in the abdomen, a tummy tuck remains the only effective procedure to remove excess skin and tighten separated abdominal muscles. These concerns are typically why patients develop a protruding or hanging abdomen, with a tummy tuck considered a powerful solution to flatten and slim the abdominal profile and achieve an enhanced body contour.
How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?
The cost of a tummy tuck varies depending on the extent of the procedure you need, whether you will need to stay overnight in the hospital or not, and fees for the anesthesia, surgeon, etc. The region you live in also plays a part in the cost, as does the skill and expertise of the plastic surgeon you choose.
At our practice, the typical price for a tummy tuck starts at $11,800, depending on variations in anatomy and the length of the case. This figure includes expenses pertaining to operating room fees, anesthesia fees, and Dr. Bottger’s fees.
It is dangerous to let cost dissuade you from choosing the best surgeon possible for your procedure. Some patients choose to cut costs by visiting cheap surgeons in Mexico or other foreign countries, and they very often come to regret it. Severe complications and even death have resulted from improperly performed tummy tuck procedures in other countries. Even here in America, if a surgeon’s prices seem too good to be true, it’s likely because they are inexperienced or even unqualified.
Dr. Bottger accepts plastic surgery financing plans for qualified patients who would like to make their tummy tuck procedure more affordable. Our practice works with CareCredit®, a trusted healthcare lending institution that offers many low- to no-interest payment plans to accommodate virtually any budget. Dr. Bottger knows that abdominoplasty can be an expense, but he also knows how rewarding the results can be. It’s our goal to help you look and feel your best. During your initial consultation, Dr. Bottger will break down the fees of your abdominoplasty procedure and let you know exactly how much it will cost, as well as what financing plans are available for you.
Tummy Tuck FAQ
How safe is a tummy tuck?
If you are a good candidate for abdominoplasty and are under the care of an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon, a tummy tuck can be a very safe cosmetic procedure. With any elective surgery, it is critical to your health and appearance to enlist a plastic surgeon with extensive experience, a professional background, and training that has been vetted thoroughly by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Dr. Bottger will fully review your medical history to ensure you are a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery, and then explain the risks and benefits of the procedure so you can make an informed and thoughtful decision about your care.
What can I eat after tummy tuck surgery?
Recovery plays an essential role in your final results and, while healing from surgery will take some patience, adhering to a well-balanced diet after the procedure can help accelerate the recovery process. It’s best to eat foods that are abundant in protein, such as fish, beans, and eggs. Vitamin-rich foods such as eggs, fruit, and leafy greens are also beneficial to fighting infection. In general, avoid salty and sugary foods to prevent bloating, and stay away from tobacco products and alcohol in order to promote a smooth recovery process.
What is seroma after tummy tuck surgery?
A seroma is an accumulation of fluid under the surface of the skin, often presenting as a swollen lump that may or may not be tender when touched. Seromas can develop after extensive surgery, or even after minor procedures, when a large amount of tissue is removed or disrupted. They may also form if you have a past history of seromas. In many cases, small seromas don’t require medical treatment and will resolve on their own when the fluid is reabsorbed by the body over the following weeks or months. However, if you begin to feel the symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, or a rapid heart rate, the seroma may have evolved into an abscess and require medical attention. Be sure to seek emergency medical help if you start to notice white or very bloody drainage coming from the seroma (seroma drainage should be clear or only slightly bloody), redness, or progressive pain.
How can I reduce swelling after a tummy tuck?
Swelling can last for months after a tummy tuck, but this is a very normal reaction to your body healing after surgery. Wearing your compression garments for the amount of time prescribed by Dr. Bottger, as well as closely following his instructions on post-operative care, can help minimize swelling until it resolves naturally. Additionally, avoiding salty foods and getting plenty of rest often decreases the amount of potential swelling that can occur.
How long do I need to wear compression garments after a tummy tuck?
While this timeframe may vary depending on the extent of concerns addressed in your unique procedure, you should generally wear the compression garments provided for at least four to six weeks after surgery. Dr. Bottger will provide more specific instructions in person on how long you should wear your abdominal binder or compression garment with regard to your personal tummy tuck surgery.
What’s the difference between liposuction and tummy tuck surgery?
Liposuction and abdominoplasty are two very distinctive body contouring procedures. Either technique can help you gain a leaner and more sculpted look in the abdomen, but the best treatment option for you will depend on which anatomical factors comprise your concerns. Liposuction is typically most successful for patients who would like to improve their abdominal shape via suction-assisted fat removal. The procedure is not designed to treat loose skin or musculature, so the best liposuction candidates are usually at a healthy weight and have relatively good skin tone.
If excess skin and/or loose musculature is present, tummy tuck surgery is often the best treatment choice. Rather than simply suction out fat, a tummy tuck aims to tighten the skin and repair stretched abdominal muscles. As a result, those who have a hanging or protruding abdomen often find more success with abdominoplasty—although combining both procedures can be an effective way to achieve more comprehensive results.
Is an abdominoplasty different than a panniculectomy?
Although the cosmetic results often look similar, tummy tuck surgery is very different from a panniculectomy. A medical panniculectomy is performed to remove the “apron” of excess skin sometimes left after losing excess weight. This “flap” of redundant skin can cause irritation, chafing, rashes, and perspiration, often prompting individuals to pursue a panniculectomy for medical reasons. This deviates from abdominoplasty, which is typically performed to address cosmetic concerns. Tummy tuck surgery also operates on the abdominal musculature while a panniculectomy treats excess skin only.
Do I have to have a drain after tummy tuck surgery?
Dr. Bottger is able to perform a drain-free tummy tuck for most patients at our Philadelphia practice, but your unique needs will ultimately determine whether drains are necessary after surgery. In cases where it’s possible to forgo surgical drains, progressive tension sutures will be used to close your incisions. There are significant advantages to eliminating drains during recovery, and Dr. Bottger will discuss this possibility with you at your consultation.
Is there anything I can do to help prolong the results of my tummy tuck?
The most effective way to ensure your tummy tuck results last as long as possible is to lead a healthy lifestyle. While the aging process will not stop, unnecessary weight fluctuation is usually the biggest contributing factor to changes in your abdominal shape. Therefore, regular exercise and nutritious eating habits can go a long way in preserving the outcome of your tummy tuck. It’s also generally recommended to pursue a tummy tuck after completing your family, as pregnancy can re-stretch the abdominal muscles and alter your surgical results.
What should I look for in a tummy tuck surgeon?
In addition to board-certification and high levels of experience performing a tummy tuck, you should also look for a plastic surgeon who listens to your concerns, patiently answers all of your questions, and ensures you understand every aspect of your procedure. A good plastic surgeon should never rush or pressure you into making a decision about your treatment, and your confidence in a surgeon’s ability to achieve your desired outcome is paramount.
Schedule Your Tummy Tuck Consultation in Philadelphia
If you are considering a tummy tuck, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Bottger at 610-355-1929 today to schedule your consultation. Dr. Bottger will assess your candidacy and recommend a custom treatment plan to help reach your goals, as well as let you know what kind of results you personally can expect from a tummy tuck. Dr. Bottger serves patients in Philadelphia, Newtown Square, and other nearby areas of Pennsylvania. Get directions from Google Maps to our tummy tuck surgeon here.