Tummy Tuck Surgery
Win Pound, M.D.
There are really two options when patients come to my office with complaints about their stomach area – liposuction or tummy tuck. In patients who have good elasticity in their skin, tight stomach muscles, and fat, liposuction is the better option in most cases. In patients with excess or hanging skin, poor elasticity or stretch marks, a protruding stomach due to weakened stomach muscles, plus or minus fat, a tummy tuck is probably the best option.
According to statistics, tummy tucks were the fifth most popular cosmetic surgery procedure performed in 2013. While more invasive than liposuction, much more can be accomplished with a tummy tuck. Stomach muscles, weakened by pregnancy or weight gain/loss, can be tightened during the tummy tuck procedure. Stretch marks, loose skin, and fat between the belly button and the pubic area can be removed as well. The trade-off is a fairly lengthy scar across the lower portion of the abdomen but this scar can be located low enough to be hidden by underwear or bathing suits. The longer the incision, the more skin can be removed.
For some people with only a minimal amount of loose skin and muscle weakness below the belly button, a mini-tummy tuck may be appropriate. In this case, a shorter scar is used and undermining of the skin and fat is only performed up to the belly button (rather than up to the ribs with a full tummy tuck). This allows access so that the stomach muscles below the belly button may be tightened but limits the amount of skin that can be removed.
Drains may be used during a tummy tuck to keep fluid or blood from accumulating under the abdominal tissue. These are removed in the office once they have stopped draining, usually a few days to a week or two. The patient may also wear a compression garment for several weeks following tummy tuck surgery.