What Is a Tummy Tuck?
Most commonly referred to as a “tummy tuck,” abdominoplasty removes excess fat and skin from the abdomen. The procedure also helps to flatten the stomach by tightening loose or torn abdominal muscles. Tummy tuck surgery is a popular body contouring treatment for individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight, but it is not a weight loss surgery. Tummy tuck surgery is also often included as part of a comprehensive mommy makeover.
To learn more about abdominoplasty, we encourage you to read through the detailed information provided below. To obtain more personalized answers to your questions, we recommend scheduling a consultation with Dr. Joseph DiBello, our experienced board-certified plastic surgeon in Philadelphia.
What Are the Benefits of a Tummy Tuck?
The tummy tuck procedure offers a wide range of benefits and each surgery is customized to suit your unique needs and aesthetic goals. Tummy tuck surgery can:
- Tighten and re-define the waistline
- Flatten the tummy
- Smooth abdominal bulges
- Remove and tighten excess skin
- Repair stretched or torn abdominal muscles
- Create leaner, more slender abdominal contours
- Improve the appearance of the belly button
Who Is a Candidate for Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Individuals who are in good overall health, but have inelastic skin in their abdominal region are typically considered good candidates for tummy tuck surgery, especially if the underlying muscles have become loose or damaged.
Women with stretched abdominal areas due to previous pregnancies also often benefit considerably from abdominoplasty, although Dr. DiBello recommends for patients to complete all planned childbearing prior to considering this procedure.
Tummy tuck surgery is not a replacement for proper diet and exercise; patients interested in this procedure should be healthy and at or near their goal weight.
If you generally are in good physical shape but are concerned about abdominal fat deposits and loose skin that does not respond to diet and exercise, abdominoplasty can potentially reduce or even eliminate a protruding stomach. Patients who are only concerned about stubborn pockets of fat may be considered better candidates for liposuction alone. During your consultation with Dr. DiBello, he can recommend the most appropriate treatment, based on your unique needs and concerns.
Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction
Abdominoplasty and liposuction offer similar benefits in that they can both sculpt the stomach area to appear more slim and toned. If you are wondering which may be a better option for you, it is important to understand the differences between each treatment.
Plastic surgeons usually perform liposuction for individuals who need to address excess fat deposits in targeted areas, such as the hips, thighs, buttocks, back, or abdominal region. Ideal candidates for liposuction usually have firm, elastic skin that can retract into place after stubborn fat is removed. Patients with lax or sagging skin in the stomach region are typically better off receiving a tummy tuck. Abdominoplasty can be an ideal solution for removing excess skin in the abdomen. Individuals that have a surplus of fat and skin may be recommended a combination of tummy tuck with liposuction for a more comprehensive body enhancement.
A consultation is necessary to help determine which procedure can deliver the best results based on your aesthetic goals.
What Happens During the Tummy Tuck Consultation?
During your one-on-one tummy tuck consultation, Dr. DiBello takes the time to perform a comprehensive examination, review your medical/surgical history, and thoroughly discuss your concerns and desired outcome. When evaluating the condition of your midsection, Dr. DiBello takes note of any excess skin, stretched/torn abdominal muscles, and/or additional fat affecting its appearance. Based on his observations and a discussion about the causes of your concerns—which could include pregnancies, significant weight fluctuations, aging, genetics, and other factors—Dr. DiBello can discuss the tummy tuck techniques that may be best suited for an optimal result. If you are a good candidate for these techniques, he can design a customized surgical plan based on your needs and goals. Dr. DiBello places a strong emphasis on patient education and will inform you about every aspect of each technique and what you can expect at all phases of the treatment process. With Dr. DiBello as your plastic surgeon, there is no pressure to make an immediate decision about your surgery, and you are encouraged to ask as many questions as you like to ensure you make the most informed choice about your care. If and when you are ready to move forward with your tummy tuck surgery, our friendly office team can walk you through your financial options and the scheduling process to get you set up for your procedure.
Full Tummy Tuck
A full tummy tuck is the most comprehensive tummy tuck surgery Dr. DiBello offers. In addition to improving the appearance of both the upper and lower areas of the abdomen, a full tummy tuck can surgically repair loose or torn abdominal muscles, both above and below the belly button. Often, Dr. DiBello includes conservative liposuction in the full tummy tuck surgical plan to provide additional sculpting of fat tissue for a further contoured result.
A mini-tummy tuck is a less invasive version of the tummy tuck procedure that focuses solely on addressing the appearance of excess abdominal skin (minimal) and pockets of fat. Improvements are more limited to the area of the abdomen, both skin and muscle located below the belly button. Liposuction is usually used to smooth and refine the abdominal contours. The main benefits of this technique are smaller incisions (similar to C-section scarring) and reduced recovery time when compared to the full tummy tuck procedure.
Can I Combine Tummy Tuck with Other Procedures?
Patients often choose to combine tummy tuck surgery with additional plastic surgery procedures to achieve a more comprehensive improvement in the appearance of their figure:
For women, tummy tuck is regularly performed along with procedures such as breast augmentation, breast lift, breast reduction, body liposuction, arm lift, or thigh lift. Most often, female patients incorporate tummy tuck into a mommy makeover treatment plan, which includes multiple procedures to address specific physical changes caused by pregnancy and childbirth.
For men, a tummy tuck is most frequently paired with liposuction of the chest (or male breast reduction/gynecomastia correction surgery), liposuction of the body, and/or arm and thigh lift procedures.
When individuals lose significant amounts of body weight as a result of weight loss surgery and/or changes in diet and exercise, tummy tuck or a more comprehensive body lift procedure may be the ideal choice for revealing their leaner frame. These patients may also benefit from arm lift and thigh lift procedures, as well as liposuction, to target specific areas affected by the presence of remaining excess skin and/or fat.
Depending upon the types of procedures you are interested in combining, it is possible for some techniques to be completed in the course of a single operation; however, more intensive procedures may require a phased approach. During your consultation, Dr. DiBello can discuss the surgical plan that is safest and most effective for achieving your goals.
What Is Umbilicoplasty (Belly Button Surgery)?
Umbilicoplasty, which is also referred to as belly button surgery, is a procedure designed to improve the appearance of the belly button. Patients who are candidates for umbilicoplasty may be displeased with the natural appearance of their belly button or the belly button may have changed as a result of:
- Wrinkled, excess skin as a result of weight fluctuation or pregnancy
- Scarring from piercing or previous surgery
- An umbilical (belly button) hernia
- Natural loss of tone due to aging
This procedure is always performed as part of a full tummy tuck to create an optimal aesthetic outcome. At your initial mini-tummy tuck appointment, Dr. DiBello can determine whether an umbilicoplasty is indicated and, if so, explain how the procedure can benefit your final result. While an umbilical hernia is usually performed by a general surgeon under anesthesia, an umbilicoplasty can be performed at the same time, assuming both the general surgeon and Dr. DiBello agree. If there is no hernia, and only loose skin or scarring, the umbilicoplasty can be performed in the office under local anesthesia.
How Is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?
Abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia at a local hospital, and usually takes about two or three hours, but times can vary, depending on each patient’s individual case. During surgery, Dr. DiBello will make an incision low on the abdomen, extending from hip to hip. He is careful to place the incision strategically so that the resulting scar can be easily concealed, once healed.
Excess skin is removed, and abdominal muscles can be repaired and tightened at this time. For improved contour, Dr. DiBello can also remove any stubborn fat deposits in the area via liposuction. Once the procedure is complete, remaining skin can be pulled tight and reattached, ultimately giving the abdomen a smooth and sculpted appearance.
For a visual representation of this surgery, please watch our tummy tuck 3D animation.
What Is Tummy Tuck Recovery Like?
Following tummy tuck surgery, you have the option of being admitted overnight at the hospital for your comfort and convenience, and Dr. DiBello will personally discharge you the next day. There will likely be some mild to moderate discomfort, but this can easily be managed with medication, as prescribed by Dr. DiBello. A compression garment will need to be worn during the recovery period, to assist with proper healing and to ensure ideal results are achieved. Swelling and bruising is normal, but these side effects should fade over time.
Most patients can resume their regular routines two weeks after surgery, as long as their daily activities do not include strenuous activity. More physically demanding work or recreation should be avoided for at least 4-7 weeks. To give you a better idea of what to expect, Dr. DiBello will provide you with more specific guidelines, based on your individual treatment plan.
Results of tummy tuck surgery can be long-lasting if a healthy lifestyle is maintained. Future weight gain and/or pregnancy can potentially affect results, but revisional surgery can be performed to restore the initial outcome, if desired.
Will I Have Conspicuous Tummy Tuck Scars?
Although scarring after tummy tuck surgery is unavoidable, Dr. DiBello takes great care to place the incision in a way that produces a scar that can be hidden beneath most types of undergarments or swimwear. Additionally, he will provide you with aftercare instructions that can help encourage fading. Overall, though, most of Dr. DiBello’s abdominoplasty patients feel the benefits of the procedure have greatly outweighed any concerns they may have had about residual scarring.
Dr. DiBello also specializes in a “mini” form of abdominoplasty that offers the same type of muscle tightening, but results in a smaller scar. A “mini” tummy tuck is generally ideal for patients whose skin and muscle laxity is mostly below the belly button.
What Do Tummy Tuck Results Look Like?
While Dr. DiBello does not post any before-and-after photos of his patients on our website, you can explore photographs of tummy tuck results in the comfort of our office during your consultation. When reviewing before-and-after images, it is important to keep in mind that every patient, procedure, and result is unique to the individual—and no particular outcome can be guaranteed. To manage expectations appropriately, Dr. DiBello will provide you with examples of patients with similar aesthetic concerns and outcomes he believes could be a close approximation of your potential result. Additionally, he will talk with you about the specific improvements he aims to achieve in the appearance of your midsection, as well as the range of results you can expect at various stages of the healing process.
Is a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Possible?
There are no non-surgical options that can deliver the same effective results as tummy tuck surgery. Abdominoplasty is usually an optimal solution for patients who want to address excess skin and unwanted fat, while also tightening musculature in the stomach region. For that reason, Dr. DiBello does not offer any alternatives to a traditional tummy tuck since there are no treatments capable of effectively addressing those specific concerns without surgery.
How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?
The price of out-patient tummy tuck surgery at DiBello Plastic Surgery is typically around $8,500.00, but can vary according to each patient’s unique treatment plan.
Please note: although many estimates available online only include the surgeon’s fee, the price listed above reflects the overall cost of tummy tuck surgery. It includes several variables, such as fees for Dr. DiBello, as well as the anesthesiologist, hospital surgical facility fees, pre-admission testing, and more.
After discussing your needs and desires in a one-on-one consultation with Dr. DiBello, he can provide you with a more personalized price quote.
Tummy Tuck and Pregnancy
Although it is technically okay to undergo abdominoplasty before pregnancy, we often suggest that women wait until they are finished having children before receiving a tummy tuck. The reason for this recommendation is that pregnancy can oftentimes cause the skin to expand, the muscles to stretch, and fat to accumulate again, which is what patients are trying to address in the first place with a tummy tuck. Women who choose to have an abdominoplasty after they have completed their family typically avoid the necessity of a tummy tuck revision to restore their abdominal appearance.
Additional Questions About Tummy Tuck Surgery
What happens if I gain weight after my tummy tuck procedure?
While it is natural to experience a certain degree of weight fluctuation, the quality of your tummy tuck results can potentially be compromised by rapid and/or excessive weight gain in the midsection. In most cases though, even if weight gain affects your results, it is unlikely to bring back your pre-tummy tuck figure. A considerable amount of excess skin and fat is removed during surgery (along with the tightening of abdominal muscles in some cases) which changes weight distribution, body contours, and figure proportions long-term for most patients. Maintaining optimal results typically requires patients to be mindful of maintaining a healthy diet and engaging in regular exercise. Dr. DiBello prefers that patients be at a stable weight prior to surgery to help avoid issues with post-surgical weight fluctuation.
Can I become pregnant again after my tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck will not prevent you from getting pregnant in the future; however, Dr. DiBello generally advises female patients to wait until after they are done having children to get a tummy tuck. The stretching and weight gain that accompanies pregnancy can affect the condition of your tummy tuck results, but in the event you become pregnant post-tummy tuck, a less-invasive, customized touch-up procedure may be all that is needed to restore the quality of the original outcome. Dr. DiBello’s extensive body contouring experience helps him achieve great results even in the most complex tummy tuck cases.
How long will my tummy tuck last?
Your tummy tuck results are designed to be long-lasting, but the natural aging process will inevitably cause results to evolve over time. To keep your results looking great for as long as possible, Dr. DiBello suggests keeping your skin and body healthy inside and out—this means eating nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, keeping a healthy weight, maintaining a beneficial skincare routine, and visiting the doctor annually.
Is the tummy tuck procedure safe?
It’s important to understand that any plastic surgery procedure comes with certain risks and side effects that must be carefully reviewed and considered. When the tummy tuck procedure is performed by an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon in an accredited surgical facility, the risks associated with surgery can be dramatically reduced. To further enhance patient safety, Dr. DiBello evaluates each individual to make sure he or she is healthy enough for anesthesia, surgery, and recovery, as well as a good candidate for the procedure. This thorough review process combined with stringent safety measures followed during surgery and attentive post-operative care throughout recovery minimizes the rate of complications. Patients trust Dr. DiBello to deliver the highest level of patient care and safety at every phase of treatment.