While non-surgical procedures continue to rise in popularity, they typically can’t provide the dramatic results of surgical lifting procedures. One irreplaceable procedure is abdominoplasty, colloquially known as a tummy tuck. For decades, tummy tuck surgery has topped the popularity charts, helping millions feel more comfortable and confident after weight loss, pregnancy, or the natural aging process.
Allure recently went behind the scenes to get an inside look at this procedure that has withstood the test of time. Here are some of our favorite takeaways (as well as a few of our own additions).
First, what is a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck targets two underlying issues: abdominal muscle separation and excess skin, two common problems people experience after weight changes and/or pregnancy. Abdominoplasty is the only way to dramatically recontour the abdomen and remove hanging skin—it can even improve upon your original shape, providing more of an hourglass look. Let’s take a deeper look.
Some women experience such dramatic abdominal muscle separation that people ask if they are pregnant long after they’ve given birth; they usually find no amount of exercise can correct the problem.
Getting rid of loose, sagging skin
While liposuction often accompanies abdominoplasty to provide additional shaping, liposuction cannot fix sagging skin. In fact, reducing fat alone can make sagging skin even more noticeable—you may have seen this in photos of weight loss patients or experienced it yourself. A tummy tuck reduces sagging by removing a pointed, oval-shaped section of the abdominal skin, often eliminating a section of visible stretch marks in the process.
Repairing the muscle
Another goal of tummy tuck surgery is to repair the muscles. While all of us have some natural rectus muscle separation (that’s the separation down the middle of your “six pack”), lifestyle factors, aging, and pregnancy can intensify this gap, leading to diastasis recti.
Some women experience such a dramatic separation that people continue to ask if they are pregnant long after they’ve given birth, even if they are slim. This is because diastasis recti allows your inner organs to push forward and out without resistance, giving you a round, protruding belly appearance. You can think of it like a corset that has loosened up over time. The most effective way to tighten this abdominal muscle gap (and pull the stomach back in) is with abdominoplasty.
Mini Tummy Tuck vs Regular Tummy Tuck vs Liposuction vs CoolSculpting
Allure’s article wisely gets into some related procedures and how they compare to a tummy tuck. If you found yourself nodding your head to any of the above statements about a protruding belly or sagging skin, it’s likely that you won’t be satisfied with CoolSculpting or liposuction alone. (If, on the other hand, those concerns didn’t sound familiar, check out my article comparing costs, downtime, and nuances of these fat reduction procedures.)
If a tummy tuck sounds promising, there is a full spectrum of options. Classically, a tummy tuck removes excess skin with incisions that run from front hip bone to hip bone, but the procedure can vary quite a bit depending on how much shaping you need. You might have heard of mini tummy tuck, umbilical float abdominoplasty, extended tummy tuck, or even lipoabdominoplasty.
When you have a tummy tuck consult, look at the bigger picture and focus on the overall shape you want to achieve versus specific procedures. Your plastic surgeon can—and should—fully personalize the surgical plan to meet your goals.
While these varied tummy tuck monikers can be helpful, the truth is many patients are in a gray area between one or another variation—and any tummy tuck should be personalized to your body. So, worry less about which names are attached to your procedure and focus more on clearly communicating about your goals. Talk about the overall shape you want to achieve—including everything that bothers you about the shape of your midsection—so your plastic surgeon can personalize the procedure to you. (You may even find you’ll be happiest with a combination of procedures, sometimes known as a mommy makeover.)
Who can perform a tummy tuck?
Abdominoplasty is a major surgery, making it critical to choose a board certified plastic surgeon who operates in a facility with hospital-level safety measures in place. To get pleasing results, it’s also important that your surgeon has a strong sense of aesthetics. Ask to see their before and after photos, focusing on patients who look like you in the before images to get a realistic idea of what results they can provide for you.
Your surgeon’s skill will also influence your post-op experience. To ease recovery and reduce post-op pain, Dr. Hess uses a TAP block during surgery. The transverse abdominis plane (TAP) block is designed to anesthetize the nerves that supply the anterior abdominal wall, resulting in effective pain relief and a decrease in post-surgery side effects related to pain medication.
Whatever concerns you have with abdominal changes, there are plenty of options. Contact us today to see which Fairfax tummy tuck procedure, if any, will best fit your needs and lifestyle.