Even with the increasing popularity of noninvasive plastic surgery procedures, invasive plastic surgery remains on the rise.
Part of the reason may be because injectables, effective as they are, don’t offer the same level of results as a traditional surgical procedure, like a tummy tuck, which is still very prevalent—more than 130,000 were done in 2018, an increase over the prior year, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons—despite the immense growth of body-contouring procedures like CoolSculpting.
So, we’ll be taking a deep dive into the tummy tuck over the next two blogs and breaking down everything you need to know about it, including whether a noninvasive option can give you the results you’re after.
What to expect
A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, serves two purposes: It removes excess skin and reduces the separation between the abdominal muscles. As a bonus, it also gets rid of excess fat (more on that later).
A tummy tuck, in fact, is the only way to get rid of loose, sagging skin that can result from significant weight loss or pregnancy. Our skin is very much like elastic, and once it gets stretched to a certain point, it’s never going to return to its original state.
As for the muscle separation, we’re all born with it, though it increases with age, certain lifestyle factors, and, certainly, pregnancy. Once these muscles spread, the only way to bring them back together is through surgery. A tummy tuck brings the muscle edges together, acting like an internal corset.
A surgeon will make an incision across your bikini line, and through that incision, remove skin and tighten your abdominal muscles. Once the muscles are stitched together, the surgeon will pull the skin tight and remove any excess. (Yes, your belly button will shift down in the process, but don’t worry about that. The surgeon will make a new hole for it.)
Before finishing, the surgeon will place drains in your stomach to remove any excess fluid that accumulates as you heal. They’ll be removed after about a week.
Mini vs. full
Both the extent of the surgery and the recovery will depend on the type of tummy tuck, a “mini” or a full. The main difference between the two is the length of the incision and, thus, the amount of skin that can be removed. A mini runs from inner thigh to inner thigh, while a full spans the stomach from hip to hip. Another difference: The surgeon usually only stitches up the lower half of the abdominal muscles in a mini.
You’ll be under anesthesia for two-and-a-half to four hours, but tummy tucks are technically outpatient procedures, so you’ll be able to go home after spending a couple hours in the recovery room. But once you get home, you’ll need to be patient with your recovery. It could be a few days before you feel comfortable sitting or standing fully upright.
Plan to take a couple weeks off from work. You should be back to your normal activities—which will now include ample posing in front of a mirror—within five weeks.