Abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a cosmetic procedure used to remove excess fat and skin to create an abdominal area that is smoother and firmer. An abdominoplasty is also used to restore weakened muscles due to pregnancy or weight loss. There are different variations of the procedure and it can be customized to meet the needs of each individual patient.

Full vs. Mini abdominoplasty

In a full abdominoplasty procedure, surgeons address the fat, muscle and skin.  Excess fat is most commonly deposited in the stomach. A full tummy tuck focuses on the area above and below the belly button. When the surgeon removes the fat tissue, they then remove the excess skin and tighten the abdominal muscles. The ability to remove more tissue is significant with a full abdominoplasty. The scar left behind typically extends from hip to hip near the panty line.

For those who don’t need a full abdominoplasty, a mini abdominoplasty is an option. The belly button is kept in its original place. The only tissue that will be removed is located below the belly button. The main goal is to remove the lower stomach pudge. With a mini a tummy tuck, not much skin is removed nor is there much fat being removed. A less noticeable scar is left behind.

Procedure Steps

Before the procedure, the patient must first have a consultation with the surgeon. During the consultation it will be explained how the procedure will be customized to each individual. The surgeon will go over current medical conditions, drug allergies, take photographs, and discuss outcomes and possible complications.  A date, time, and treatment plan will also be discussed during the consultation.  The procedure itself is as follows:

  1. Anesthesia
    1. Medications are administered to the patient for comfort during the procedure.
  2. Incision
    1. The incision placement is based on whether a full or mini abdominoplasty is being done. A horizontal incision is made from hip to hip near the panty line to lift the abdominal skin. Once the skin is lifted, the muscles are then repaired. In a full abdominoplasty, a second incision around the navel is made to remove the skin in the upper abdomen.
  3. Closing
    1. The surgeon uses sutures, staples, tapes, and skin adhesives to close all incisions.

Recovery

Tummy tucks are usually performed as outpatient procedures. Patients are able to go home a few hours after surgery if conditions permit. The patient may be wrapped in a bandage or compression garment to reduce swelling and for support of the abdomen. Tubes may be placed under the skin temporarily to drain excess fluid. The medical team responsible for the procedure should provide a recovery plan that includes:

  • Medications
  • How to care for incisions and tubes
  • When to return for a follow up

Risks

Certain risks may be serious or life-threatening.

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Skin loss
  • Scarring
  • Prolonged swelling
  • Numbness
  • Persistent pain
  • Asymmetry
  • Poor wound healing
  • Skin discoloration

Cost

Due to abdominoplasty being a cosmetic procedure, insurance does not cover the bill. Tummy tuck cost can vary from country to country and state to state. The more experienced and well known the surgeon is, the higher the cost of the procedure. Other factors also contribute to the overall price. Price range is from $3,000 to $15,000. Some surgeons have teamed up with financing companies to offer payment options to patients. Patients can also find lenders to help cover the cost.

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Kie’Auntae Parsons is a student in WMST 495, “Gender, Fashion, and the Body.”