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11 Must-Knows for a Tummy Tuck
Tummy Tuck

11 Must-Knows for a Tummy Tuck

Written by
Juli Albright
Juli is our patient advocate and community connection. She balances work, life and family with grace.
Juli is our patient advocate and community connection. She balances work, life and family with grace.

11 Must-Knows For a Tummy Tuck

For a lot of people, the stomach is easily the most frustrating area of the body. Excess fat finds a way to accumulate as the body goes through physical changes. This could be due to childbirth, fluctuations in weight, or the natural aging process.
While exercise and diet can be useful here, they don’t guarantee successful results. However, there is no need to lose hope as abdominoplasty, also called a tummy tuck, is the perfect solution to this dilemma. For those unaware, a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that gives you a sculpted waistline coupled with a smooth stomach. Not only this, but this surgical technique can also help you if you have damaged or weakened abdominal muscles. It further tightens the stomach and ensures successful and long-term results.

However, like with any other surgical procedure, we suggest every prospective patient to always do their research to fully understand the procedure, associated potential risks, and positives that come along. Regardless of tummy tuck being a procedure beneficial for both men and women, you must consider certain factors. These include recovery requirements and complications. This is why tummy tucks or abdominoplasty may not be suitable for everyone. Hence, before committing to this surgical procedure, we suggest you consider the following factors.

1. Your plastic surgeon should be a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon with 5 star ratings and excellent before and after Photos

Don't fall for pressure sales tactics - choose the right plastic surgeon!

This is one of the important things women need to consider. Only experienced and competent surgeons can guide you about tummy tuck and liposuction procedures, associated risks, and aftercare. Make sure you choose a surgeon who is board certified from the American Board of Plastic Surgery.  

The certificate ensures that the plastic surgeon excels at using advanced aesthetic techniques and has received extensive training. However, during the consultation, you can ask about surgical procedures, the success rate, and the complication involved in the process. Check out their portfolio of previous cases and before and after photos.  

Check Google, RealSelf, and Healthgrades reviews on the plastic surgeon. On RealSelf you can look for Verified doctors which indicates they have good reviews and are skilled in plastic surgery. You really want someone with a 5 Star rating. Multiple poor reviews indicate the surgeon is not good.

For further information on how to choose a plastic surgeon - check out this article.

2. The procedure comes with significant downtime

A tummy tuck is no easy surgical procedure but quite a major one! This means it will require major downtime; it requires a couple of weeks of rest. Usually at ~4 weeks you may resume walking exercise.  

Other than this, it is pertinent to mention that you might feel swollen, sore, and even fatigued at the beginning while your body heals. You have to make sure you allow yourself enough time and space to focus on your healing. And, when we talk about healing and rest, we don’t just mean taking vacation from your workplace. This also means asking your Mom or hiring help with the household chores and tending to children. Avoid all arduous physical activities for about four to six weeks until you fully heal.

3. How can I maintain my results?

While there is no denying that a tummy tuck can transform your figure, it is, by no means, a replacement for weight loss. In fact, it is critical to be close to the weight you desire to be at least six to twelve months prior to undergoing this surgical procedure. Most surgeons recommend that prospective patients should be between 10-15 pounds from their target weight. This is important due to the fact that rapidly gaining or losing weight can undo the results they achieve through surgery. Fluctuations in weight can lead to stretching of the abdominal tissues. As a result, the patient might end up needing a revision procedure to restore the results of the initial procedure they underwent.

Understanding that the biology of aging can’t be reversed with a scalpel, there are some common sense precautions you can take to prolong the longevity of your result. Aging will decrease the laxity and elasticity of your skin. To avoid additional strain, one should avoid significant weight fluctuations either up or down.  Finally, we can avoid unnecessary damage to the soft tissue by limiting nicotine exposure and tanning.

4. Common complications with tummy tuck procedures?

The most common complication with a tummy tummy tuck is associated with wound healing. This includes fluid accumulation beneath the skin (seroma). Typically drains are placed to prevent this, but if the drains become plugged or are not handled correctly a seroma is still possible. Sometimes the wound can heal poorly. This is usually a direct result of insufficient blood flow to the area. Blood flow may be compromised by too tight clothing, smoking, or damage to the fatty tissues deep in your skin which may be compromised.

It is also very common for there to be changes to your skin sensation. The tummy tuck surgery can affect the nerves in the abdominal area which may result in reduced sensation or numbness. This usually comes back a few months after the surgery as the nerves regrow.

5. Average Cost of Tummy Tuck

Average cost of a tummy tuck surgery $10,150 in the United States. For Alamo Plastic Surgery, the cost varies from $4325-$9000+. The $4325 cost is for a mini tummy tuck with no liposuction. $9000+ is for a fleur de lis tummy tuck with rectis diastasis repair and liposuction in the abdominal area. The most common procedure is a tummy tuck, rectis diastasis repair, and liposuction. The cost can vary quite a bit based on location.

6. Tummy tuck post-surgery undergarments

In the first week patients will wear an abdominal binder 24/7, followed by 5 weeks of a compression garment.   Walking exercise may be resumed by 4 weeks in most patients, followed by advancing to strenuous activities at 6 weeks.  Most patients will be unrestricted by 2 months after surgery (out of compression and performing all normal exercise activities).  However, if a rectus diastasis repair was performed, your plastic surgery may recommend avoiding intense abdominal bracing movements like heavy weightlifting, until 3 months after surgery, and with precautions. It is important to follow your surgeons instructions and wear the compression garment.

7. Is it painful?

Tummy Tuck involves a significant excision of excess skin and usually rectis diastasis repair and liposuction.  The initial surgery will be conducted under general anesthesia and will be painless. During the recovery, there will be bruising, pain, and swelling with can lessoned with pain medication, but the patient will most likely feel very sore for a few weeks.

8. How long does the surgery take?

Tummy tuck surgery can take anywhere from 2 - 8 hours depending on the type of tummy tuck (mini, full, or fleur de lis), liposuction, and rectis diastasis repair.

9. Be prepared for a permanent scar

Even though most patients are very happy with their tummy tuck, it will leave a scar along the abdomen. The size and location of the scar depends on the type of tummy tuck. In case of the traditional or full tummy tuck, the scars stretch from hip to hip. Most doctors make the scar easily hidden by a standard bikini. Just like other scars you may have for most people these fade drastically with time (check out blog article on tummy tuck scars over time).

10. Surgical drains shall remain in place for the first initial week or two

For most tummy tucks, drains are required to avoid the buildup of blood and eliminate swelling. While they are temporary, these drains demand extra attention and care. An experienced surgeon will always discuss drain placement and how they need to be taken care of before moving onto doing the surgery. Moreover, your expert will also highlight any restrictions or limitations with respect to bathing. To give you a rough estimate, in most cases, patients can remove drains almost painlessly in about seven to ten days. However, it is possible that their surgeon feels the need to put them in place for two or more weeks.

11. Healing can take up a full year

Yes, as surprising it may sound, you read that right.  You are not going to witness the results immediately after undergoing a tummy tuck procedure. In fact, expect swelling, bruising, and redness in the first initial weeks as you enter the recovery phases. You will be able to see results only after the bruising and swelling begins to subside, which would take at least four to six weeks.

However, it is pertinent to mention that there is residual swelling that lasts for six months or even longer. In addition to this, it is normal to feel temporary numbness or, in other words, loss of sensation along the area you have had incision at. But, rest assured, it will gradually fade away as time passes. Don’t panic because you will see yourself close to your usual self after a few months. Your stomach, however, will need time to recover and heal for the results to fully appear.


Regardless of whether it is a mini-tummy tuck or a full-fledged abdominoplasty, make sure to take your time in learning what will be best for you. More importantly, only opt for the procedure when you have found a reliable, board-certified plastic surgeon.

Written by
Juli Albright

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