The abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a staple of plastic surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the procedure’s popularity has more than doubled since 2000. However, a tummy tuck isn’t right for everyone. Before you commit to this potentially life-changing surgery, we recommend asking yourself the following questions:
Before undergoing a tummy tuck, we recommend being within 10-15 pounds of your target weight for at least six months prior to surgery. It’s important to find a good diet and exercise routine that works for you before undergoing abdominoplasty. After a tummy tuck, gaining or losing a significant amount of weight can ruin the results, making a revision procedure necessary. In general, plastic surgery should not be considered a replacement for healthy lifestyle habits. Rather, think of your tummy tuck as further motivation to stay fit. Moreover, it’s best to hold off on this type of surgery until after you’ve had your last child, as pregnancy can change your long-term results.
- Can I afford to stay off my feet for a while?
Abdominoplasty is a major surgery and thus requires substantial recovery time. You’ll need two-to-three weeks for your basic recovery, but you should plan to avoid strenuous activity for four-to-six weeks. During that initial tummy tuck recovery period, you should be able to take care of yourself—but that’s about it. We recommend spending most of your recovery time resting, so make arrangements with your boss, loved ones, and/or caregiver before committing to tummy tuck surgery.
- Can I live with a permanent scar?
Many plastic surgery procedures entail a trade-off between a desired aesthetic improvement and (usually very subtle and minor) scarring. For millions of people each year, the satisfaction obtained through plastic surgery is well worth it. Still, it’s important to know what you’re getting into; a tummy tuck scar runs from hip to hip, just above the groin area. Fortunately, an experienced surgeon can achieve minimal scarring and make the incision(s) discrete. The scar is easily hidden beneath underwear or a bathing suit.
- Full, mini, or extended?
While you may have heard about mini and full tummy tucks, there are actually three main types of abdominoplasty. A full (or traditional, or standard) tummy tuck is best for people who have excess loose skin or weakened abdominal muscles, which some associate with what’s commonly called a “tummy pooch.” A mini tummy tuck is ideal people who have loose skin below the belly button. Weakened muscles are rarely addressed during this procedure, so there’s usually a shorter recovery time and a smaller scar. The third main variety of abdominoplasty is the extended tummy tuck. During this procedure, your surgeon will perform a lateral thigh lift in addition to the standard tummy tuck procedure. This is the most invasive of the three main types of tummy tucks and has the longest recovery time.
- Should I add liposuction?
Although many people lump tummy tucks and liposuction together in their minds, they accomplish two separate goals. Liposuction removes fat cells, whereas a tummy tuck tightens muscles, removes excess skin, and repositions elements of the abdominal area. You may only benefit from one or the other, but if you can benefit from both, there are advantages to having them done together. You’ll get more dramatic results in a shorter timeframe, and you’ll only have one surgery to worry about. Like abdominoplasty, liposuction has a physical recovery period. Thus, it may be more efficient to recover from both procedures at once.
In the end, the only way to know for sure whether a tummy tuck—or any plastic surgery procedure—is right for you is to be evaluated by an expert. If you’re considering plastic surgery and would like to speak with an experienced plastic surgeon about your options, please contact one of our five Atlanta Plastic Surgery offices to schedule a consultation. There, in addition to discussing your prospective procedure, we can go over our available financing options with you. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ for the latest plastic surgery news.