Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a Tummy Tuck- But Were Afraid to Ask!
Written by Melissa Chapman
By the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Before I gave birth to my first child, perfect strangers would approach me and regale me with tales of their flabby misshapen tummies. Women would dole out unsolicited advice non-stop and say things like, “Oh you are so big, I really hope you bounce back! That belly looks like it is really being stretched to the max.” And after my first child, which was a natural birth for me, my tummy did bounce back, and in fact the skin was as taut and firm as it was prior to childbirth. I thought back to those women who had me worried I’d be sporting a kangaroo pouch and chuckled to myself as I did another stomach crunch and pulled my jeans over my waist with nary a muffin top in sight.
And then I got pregnant again – only this time my sweet baby boy refused to assume the proper position and although I was not a happy camper my doctor said we needed to schedule a C-section. Still I believed once I had that baby, with proper diet and exercise I would get my pre-pregnant tummy taut: I never could have been more wrong. No matter how many crunches I crunched or how often I denied myself sweets, nine years later I have a tummy that resembles crepe paper coupled with ghastly stretch marks and yes…even have a wee-bit of a pouch. But, tummy issues are not just the domain of preggos! I have friends who have lost a significant amount of weight and they too have revealed (behind the closed doors of dressing rooms) their misshapen and sagging skin, which, like mine, seems to sadly hang over their pubic bone. Clearly this sagging tummy skin can strike anyone – male or female – who has experienced a significant weight loss and therefore their skin’s elasticity has basically (in a nutshell) lost its ability to bounce back.
Luckily a number of these problems can be remedied with a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty operation. Dr. Mark Solomon offered his expertise for those of us who might be considering this procedure.
Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
Good candidates for tummy tucks have some excess skin, loose muscle and may have some excess fat. This commonly occurs after pregnancy and good candidates will not want to get pregnant after the procedure so they do not ruin the result. Ideal patients will be within 20% of their ideal body weight. Other good candidates are patients who have had significant weight loss, either through diet and exercise, or from surgery.
Should you lose weight before the procedure?
Weight loss is useful, but not essential. In general, the closer you are to your ideal body weight, the better the result.
Is a tummy tuck only for females post-pregnancy or can anyone get it?
Patients who undergo weight loss surgery are often good candidates for tummy tuck when their weight is stable. Men are also candidates for a tummy tuck, especially if they have had weight loss from diet and exercise or from surgery.
Is liposuction involved?
Liposuction is used to remove excess fat if it is present.
What type of anesthesia is used?
Most surgeons perform tummy tuck surgery using general anesthesia. Some surgeons use local anesthesia and sedation.
How long is the procedure?
The length of surgery varies with the amount of surgery needed and the surgeon’s experience. Most cases take 2-3 hours.
Will a tummy tuck rid you of stretch marks?
A tummy tuck removes those stretch marks that are below the belly button in many cases. Stretch marks that are above the belly button are moved down, but not removed.
Are there scars after the procedure?
Scars after surgery are permanent. The length and appearance of the scar varies among patients. In general, scars fade with time.
Is a tummy tuck a permanent solution or will the skin lose its firmness over time?
Results from these procedures are permanent. However, if you gain weight, you can adversely affect the result.
How long can you wait after pregnancy before it is too late for the procedure to work?
You should not undergo a tummy tuck after pregnancy until your body changes have stabilized from your pregnancy. There is no limit on the time that you can wait before having the procedure after a pregnancy.
Are there any alternatives to a tummy tuck that are as effective without anesthesia?
Only a tummy tuck can remove excess skin, contour fat and tighten muscle. A tummy tuck will flatten the tummy and narrow the waist at the same time. Liposuction removes fat, but skin shrinkage after liposuction varies from patient to patient, even if ultrasound or laser is used to assist with the liposuction. There are some devices that can be used to heat and shrink skin, but they do not remove fat and do not affect the muscle in any way.
So the good news is that any of us can regain our pre-pregnancy or pre-weight loss abdominal tone after undergoing a tummy tuck along with some liposuction and even see some improvement in our stretch marks as well. It is just a matter of getting to our near ideal weight and then making the decision to have the procedure!