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Tummy Tuck

Skin can become stretched due to pregnancy or weight gain. In addition, older patients may find that their skin has lost some of its elasticity over time. Fortunately, skin laxity can be corrected through plastic surgery. Atlanta area plastic surgeon Thomas Lintner, MD offers patients exceptional abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) surgery. During a personal consultation, Dr. Lintner discusses the abdominoplasty options available to meet individual patient needs.

What Is a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery, sometimes referred to as abdominoplasty, is a plastic surgery procedure designed to eliminate excess skin and fat from the abdominal region, and does include tightening of loose abdominal muscles. It is particularly beneficial for individuals who have lost a significant amount of weight after bariatric surgery or an intense diet and exercise routine. Additionally, tummy tuck surgery is included in virtually all mommy makeovers.

Despite what you find on the internet, not all “tummy tuck” procedures are the same. There are many different options for recontouring the abdomen. Dr. Lintner meets with patients to address the differences between full tummy tuck, mini tummy tuck (which addresses skin, fat, and muscle) and panniculectomy (which only addresses skin, not muscle). Since the length of recovery time, the cost, and the amount of scarring can vary among the three procedures, Dr. Lintner wants to ensure that each patient decides upon the appropriate procedure for his or her individual needs. In your consultation with Dr. Lintner, he will help you determine which procedure is best for achieving your aesthetic goals.

What Is a Mini Tummy Tuck?

A mini tummy tuck is designed to help patients who do not require a full abdominoplasty achieve the flatter, firmer abdomen they desire. Whereas a full abdominoplasty typically addresses all or most of the abdominal muscles, a mini tummy tuck with Dr. Lintner can address more targeted sections. This may involve the lower, middle, or upper portion of the abdominal muscles, depending on the nature of the individual patient’s concerns.

While a full abdominoplasty is typically recommended after pregnancy, a mini tummy tuck can be beneficial for more petite women, those who are very physically fit, as well as those who have had a hysterectomy resulting in a small pooch above the scar. A mini tummy tuck typically involves less surgery and is performed with a shorter incision, which can provide a quicker recovery period. Since the surgery is often less extensive, the cost is also often less. To maximize abdominal sculpting, liposuction may be used in combination with the procedure for enhanced body contouring.

I am very pleased with the whole experience of my surgery. I appreciate each and every one of you at Dr. Lintner’s office. Your professionalism and the fact that I felt truly cared for were very important to me. Thank you.K.R.

What is the Difference Between Panniculectomy and Abdominoplasty?

When reviewing surgical options for your tummy tuck, you may hear about panniculectomy and abdominoplasty. Panniculectomy only addresses excess skin along the abdomen. Although the term “abdominoplasty” is often used interchangeably to refer to all tummy tucks, it actually only refers to tummy tuck procedures that involve tightening of the abdominal muscles. If a panniculectomy is right for you, Dr. Lintner can help you determine whether or not it should be performed in combination with abdominoplasty.

Am I a Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?

Ideal tummy tuck candidates should be in good overall health and close to their desired weight. Dr. Lintner may advise patients who still have a significant amount of weight to lose to wait until they are closer to their goal before considering this procedure. Panniculectomy with abdominoplasty can tighten abdominal muscles and eliminate excess skin that has resulted from weight loss and/or pregnancy. These procedures can also be combined with liposuction to reduce any remaining pockets of stubborn fat in the abdomen and other areas, like the flanks.

What Are the Benefits of Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Whatever the reason may be for patients to choose a tummy tuck, there are a number of advantages that can come along with it, such as:

  • Reducing excess abdominal skin
  • Tightening the abdominal skin for a visually appealing, smooth look
  • Tightening abdominal muscles that have separated
  • Removing stubborn fat around the abdomen
  • An improved waistline
  • A better fit for certain types of clothing
  • A renewed self-confidence

How Is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

Traditionally, in a full tummy tuck, both the upper and lower abdomen sections are targeted. Excess skin is removed, and the abdominal wall is tightened from the pubic area and upwards to just below the chest. Remaining skin is then stretched and reattached to achieve a more toned appearance. In most patients, incisions are typically concealed along the bikini line, making resulting scars easier to cover. During a mini tummy tuck, less excess skin will typically be removed and a portion of the abdominal muscles can be tightened. Depending on your specific treatment plan, liposuction may be used to help reduce stubborn fat in the treatment area.

The length of the procedure can vary depending on the surgical approach used for your specific treatment plan, but on average, it can take anywhere from two to four hours. Tummy tuck surgery is performed under general anesthesia at a local hospital. After surgery, patients may be admitted overnight, if they wish, for increased comfort and safety. In these cases, Dr. Lintner will follow up with you the next morning to check on you and discharge you into the care of a friend or family member.

What Is Tummy Tuck Recovery Like?

Our office strives to make a safe and healthy recovery possible for patients. Many circumstances will vary based on individual needs, such as post-surgical pain, but most patients will need one to two weeks off from routine duties. Below, we have provided some recommended guidelines that can help with this process.

After tummy tuck surgery, some swelling and bruising is normal, but will gradually lessen over time. Patients will likely be able to go home the day of the procedure to begin their recovery period. The night of the surgery, Dr. Lintner expects patients to be up and around, approximately every two hours (while awake), to help with blood flow and decrease the risk of post-surgical complications. He might also recommend wearing a compression garment to minimize swelling and promote the body’s natural healing process.

We recommend sleeping in a recliner, with a pillow placed under the knees for extra support. Twenty-four hours after the surgery has taken place, a warm shower is suggested. To make your recovery as comfortable as possible, Dr. Lintner will prescribe pain management medications, as well as antibiotics, anti-nausea medication, and muscle relaxers. Before beginning any demanding or strenuous exercises, individuals should wait at least six weeks, but short walks can be taken to avoid any blood clots.

Dr. Lintner takes the greatest caution to make residual scarring as inconspicuous as possible. Over time, scars will fade and can usually be hidden under clothing or swimwear.

How Long Will My Tummy Tuck Results Last?

When the procedure is performed by an experienced surgeon, tummy tuck results can be long-lasting or even permanent; however, dramatic fluctuations in weight can cause the effects of surgery to become distorted. For this reason, Dr. Lintner advises patients to maintain a healthy weight following the procedure. This can be achieved by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. In addition, because weight gain and other body changes occur in pregnant women, Dr. Lintner recommends that patients wait to undergo abdominoplasty until after they have finished having children.

What Do Tummy Tuck Scars Look Like?

Traditional tummy tuck surgery typically results in a scar that extends between the hips, whereas a mini tummy tuck often causes a smaller scar. That said, the scars usually fade to a flesh color during recovery, and Dr. Lintner is always careful to place incisions so that the scars are easily able to be concealed by clothing, underwear, or bathing suits.

What Are Possible Tummy Tuck Side Effects?

Although rare, it is important to understand the potential side effects from tummy tuck surgery. These may include an infection from poor wound healing, tissue damage, numbness or changes in skin sensation, seroma (fluid accumulation beneath the skin), blood clots, excessive bleeding, scarring, and pain or discomfort. In most cases, following Dr. Lintner’s post-procedure instructions—including guidelines surrounding resting, wearing your compression garments, monitoring your symptoms, eating a healthy diet, and activity restrictions—will help to diminish the risk of experiencing side effects and promote a safe recovery.

Are There Alternatives To Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Considered the gold standard for surgically contouring the abdomen, abdominoplasty was specifically designed to reduce large amounts of excess skin and fat around the midsection while also tightening stretched muscles. As such, no other cosmetic procedure is able to produce the same results as this advanced treatment; however, if you are suffering from smaller amounts of excess abdominal skin or fat, Dr. Lintner can discuss potential alternatives during your consultation. For those with good skin quality but stubborn areas of excess fat, liposuction may be an appropriate treatment option focused strictly on the reduction of fatty tissue.

How Much Does Tummy Tuck Surgery Cost?

The price of tummy tuck surgery can differ from patient to patient, due to the customization of each procedure, but the average cost is approximately $5908 to $8780 at Advanced Aesthetic Surgery, depending on the extent of the procedure. Unlike many tummy tuck cost estimates found online, this price includes more than just the surgeon’s fee. Our average price noted above takes into account that there are a variety of other factors that can affect the overall cost of this procedure, such as anesthesia fees, prescribed medications, post-operative garments, hospital or surgical facility fees, whether a full or mini tummy tuck is performed, and more.

To help alleviate our patients’ concerns about the cost of tummy tuck, we offer financing options through reputable plastic surgery lending companies. These payment plans enable patients to make monthly payments with low or no interest. Our patient care coordinator, Sabrina, can help you apply for the plan that best meets your needs.

Is Pregnancy After Tummy Tuck Safe?

For women who are planning to have a family in the future, it is best to wait until after childbearing to have this surgery. After pregnancy, there is typically excess skin remaining in the midsection, and the abdominal muscles may be overstretched (or possibly torn). These side effects can affect the outcome of a previous abdominoplasty, so while this doesn’t happen to every woman, it is common enough that it should be considered before undergoing this procedure.

If a patient has already had a tummy tuck prior to becoming pregnant, it should not affect the pregnancy, but the patient may desire a revisional abdominoplasty after they give birth. Individual needs can be discussed with Dr. Lintner during a one-on-one consultation. For more information on this topic, please read Dr. Lintner’s blog post regarding abdominoplasty and pregnancy.

Additional Tummy Tuck FAQs

Is a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Possible?

Tummy tuck surgery is the gold standard for abdominal contouring. Patients who are candidates for muscle tightening and skin removal who choose liposuction or other non-invasive options are frequently disappointed. For those searching for a more natural alternative, Dr. Lintner advises patients to be wary of internet ads for products (such as the “Tummy Tuck Belt®”) that are purported to be non-surgical equivalents to abdominoplasty. These strategies are not known to deliver anything similar to the tightening, re-draping effects of tummy tuck surgery.

How Long Does Swelling Last After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

A certain degree of swelling can generally be expected for the first few weeks following the procedure; however, some patients may experience residual swelling that lasts for months or longer. While swelling is a normal reaction to major surgery, there are ways to mitigate the swelling after your procedure; for instance, you can limit your sodium intake, drink plenty of water, and wear any prescribed compression garments. Dr. Lintner will provide in-depth aftercare instructions during your consultation.

Will I Need to Wear Compression Garments After My Tummy Tuck?

In many cases, Dr. Lintner will recommend an abdominal binder or garment to wear during recovery. These garments, similar to those worn after breast augmentation and other surgeries, are designed to preserve the results of the tummy tuck and facilitate proper healing. They should be worn all day and night, but patients are directed to remove them when showering. Compression garments are usually worn for four to six weeks following the procedure, but some patients may be directed to wear them for longer if swelling is especially prevalent. Some patients like to wear the waist trainers after surgery, but this can significantly alter your results, and not in a positive way.

How Should I Sleep After a Tummy Tuck?

For the first few weeks following a tummy tuck procedure, it is recommended to sleep on your back in a slightly elevated position. To achieve this, it may be most comfortable to sleep in a recliner with a pillow placed under the knees for extra support, or by propping up pillows against your back. Sleeping in this position helps to promote proper blood flow while also protecting the incisions as they heal.

How Much Discomfort Can I Expect Following Surgery?

As with any surgery, some discomfort can be expected. Depending upon which procedure a patient opts for, soreness levels can vary. Dr. Lintner prescribes two different types of pain medication to help relieve some of the pain. If individuals follow provided post-op guidelines, proper healing should take place.

What is the Difference Between a Full Tummy Tuck and a Mini Tummy Tuck?

The biggest difference between all these surgeries is how much muscle is involved. A mini tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) removes skin and fat and tightens less than all your abdominal muscles. A full tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) removes skin and fat and tightens all of your abdominal muscles, from your pubic bone to your sternum. Both have the same skin incision which is in most people slightly longer than hip to hip.

Can a Tummy Tuck Treat Diastasis Recti?

For severe cases of diastasis recti, in which there is significant separation of the rectus abdominis muscles (the “six-pack” muscles that meet at the midline of the stomach), a tummy tuck can offer both structural and cosmetic repair for a more toned, defined abdomen. By re-tightening the muscles in the abdomen, a tummy tuck can also help reverse many of the symptoms of diastasis recti, with patients reporting improved posture, a reduction in back pain, and enhanced bladder control. In cases related to muscle separation after pregnancy, it may be advised to wait at least a year after childbirth, since diastasis recti may resolve on its own.

Will I Need Liposuction, or Can Abdominoplasty Help Me Achieve My Goals?

While a tummy tuck is usually ideal for patients whose main goal is to get rid of loose skin in the abdominal area, including liposuction as part of the procedure might be beneficial in some cases. If stubborn fat is the only concern, liposuction alone may be recommended. During a patient consultation, Dr. Lintner can evaluate any aesthetic goals the patient might have and help them determine if abdominoplasty, liposuction, or a combination of the two is most appropriate.

When Can I Resume Eating?

Patients can generally resume their normal diet the day after surgery. Until the patient knows how their stomach will react to the anesthesia and pain medications, we encourage starting with meals similar to what you might feed a sick child, such as bland foods and chicken noodle soup. After abdominoplasty, many patients report feeling they are unable to eat the same volume of food they ate preoperatively. To encourage optimal healing, we recommend diets high in protein.

When Can I Drive After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Most patients are typically able to drive six to seven days following tummy tuck surgery. However, this can vary based on the comfort-level of each patient. It is also important to note that patients should refrain from driving for as long as they are still taking prescription pain medication.

What Will My Belly Button Look Like?

A patient’s belly button might look different during the first few weeks of the recovery process — but it is still the belly button your mother gave you; a new one will not be created. The incision placed inside the hole will heal, leaving a natural-looking belly button.

What Happens if I Gain Weight After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Significant weight gain after tummy tuck surgery can adversely affect the results of the procedure. As such, Dr. Lintner encourages patients to maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen to retain the results of abdominoplasty.

Contact Advanced Aesthetic Surgery

If you are interested in abdominoplasty, contact Advanced Aesthetic Surgery today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Lintner or ask any questions you may have about this treatment. During a patient’s one-on-one evaluation and consultation, Dr. Lintner can address your questions and concerns, and can help you determine if tummy tuck is the best procedure for your individual needs.