Abdominoplasty, the medical term for tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure that a plastic surgeon or cosmetic doctor might recommend if exercise and diet aren’t able to resolve the excess flab and saggy skin around the abdomen. If you’re exhausted of the “rolls in your gut” that just don’t seem to go away and you are willing to do anything to remove them, you should consider a tummy tuck.

What’s the tummy tuck procedure?

Tummy tuck is a major cosmetic surgery that involves removal of extra fat and skin from your abdomen, tightening of muscles, stretching of skin and sewing it back together. There are over 110,000 tummy tuck cosmetic procedures per year. Although it is not the same as liposuction, it can be done in combination.

First, you should look for an experienced and credible surgeon in your town or elsewhere, where you can easily reach. Book an appointment and discuss about your goals and expectations. After analyzing your case, your clinician will decipher what’s best for you. You will be given general anesthesia for the surgery and you will sleep while the surgery is performed without causing you pain and discomfort. The procedure will take one to five hours depending upon your surgical needs.

There are two types of tummy tuck procedures your doctor will decide for you depending upon what you need.

1.    Complete abdominoplasty

In this procedure, a cut is made between hipbones from one side to the other. Next, contouring of muscles, tissues and skin is done before the skin is stitched back. Extra folds of your skin are excised and your belly button is moved. This may need insertion of drainage tube beneath your skin for a couple of days.

2.    Partial or mini abdominoplasty

If the fat deposits are located below your navel, your doctor might go for partial or mini abdominoplasty. This procedure might not need moving your belly button and will take comparatively less time than complete abdominoplasty.

Preparation for tummy tuck surgery

Your doctor will need you to quit smoking at least two weeks before the surgical procedure and until two weeks post-surgery. Cutting down on smoking won’t do and you will have to completely cut back on smoking as it increases the risk of complications and delays the healing process.

Communicate with your doctor any medications, herbs or supplements that you are taking so that he can direct you to stop taking certain drugs some time pre and post surgically. You might also be required to take anticoagulants before the surgery to prevent blood clotting. Your doctor might recommend you to lose weight if you are obese for best results after the surgery. Shedding pounds after the surgery will diminish the results. Before your appointment for the surgery, prepare your home for what you’ll need after the surgery.

  • Get ice packs for yourself and arrange some loose clothes that can easily be worn and removed to avoid any discomfort
  • Have a hand-held shower installed in your bath if you don’t have one
  • Get a bathroom chair for yourself
  • Petroleum jelly should also be at hand

You should make sure somebody accompanies you for the surgery to help you after and drive you back home. Whichever type of procedure your surgeon chooses for you, you will have a cut and a stitch in your lower abdomen area that will have a bandage on. Take medications such as antibiotics prescribed to you after the surgery to avoid any infections. Follow the instructions laid down by your doctor to care for your bandage. A firm and elastic band will be used for the bandage to promote better healing. Follow you doctor’s instructions to position yourself in the right way when lying down, getting up and while sitting, to help alleviate pain.

Be prepared to limit strenuous activities for a at least six weeks after the surgery so that good recovery is ensured in the earliest possible time. Make sure to see your doctor in the follow-up visits scheduled by your doctor.

Risks of tummy tuck surgery

The most common complication is to have pain and swelling after the surgery that might take several weeks or months to go away. Take pain medications prescribed by your doctor and follow the instructions given to you to ease the swelling. Bruising, numbness and scarring will occur at the incision site. The scars might fade away

Rare complications include

  • Infection
  • Poor wound healing
  • Damaged connective tissue beneath the skin that might need a secondary surgery
  • Bleeding under the skin
  • Formation of blood clot

Are you the best candidate?

Tummy tuck is suitable for you if

  • You are a man or woman in a good state of health without any co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes etc.
  • You consider it as a last resort after trying everything else and do not consider it as an alternative regime to weight loss
  • You are a man or a woman having remains of fatty deposits and flabby skin that doesn’t respond to exercise after successfully losing weight due to obesity
  • You are a woman who has had multiple pregnancies that has resulted in jelly-like tummy plumping out with loose muscles and skin
  • You are a woman who is not planning any future pregnancies


Tummy tuck gives you the toned look that you long desired. It strengthens your abdominal wall and boosts your confidence by giving you a slimmer look. The results are generally long lasting and can be permanent if you maintain a healthy diet to have a steady weight.

Latest posts by Anique Ali, M.D. (see all)