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Abdominoplasty, also known as the “tummy tuck,” is an operation performed to remove excess fatty tissue and skin folds in the mid and lower abdominal region and to tighten up the abdominal wall.

When women have had children, the lining of the abdominal muscles can rip and the abdomen can develop a bulge. Men sometimes have tummy tucks too if they suffer from excess abdominal skin and fat.

If you find yourself with loose skin around your abdomen after giving birth or after significant weight loss, an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is the best way to reshape your midsection for a full body lift. During this procedure, the surgeon makes an incision along your lower abdomen and repairs the muscles in your abdomen. When he’s finished, he pulls your skin taut, removes the excess tissue, and sutures the two ends together. If needed, the surgeon makes a new hole for your belly button for a completely natural look.

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tummy tuck procedure

For women who are winding down their childbearing years or men and women who’ve lost considerable weight, a tummy tuck can bridge the gap to a newer, slimmer body shape. At Prime Plastic Surgery, we offer tummy tucks to our clients in the San Diego area who want flatter bellies that erase the signs of the past. To learn about what an abdominoplasty can do for you, call the office or request an appointment using the online scheduler.


There are many life events that may make you a candidate for a tummy tuck, including:

  • Pregnancy
  • Significant weight loss
  • Fluctuations in weight
  • Aging

These represent the more common reasons why a little more than 140,000 people underwent an abdominoplasty in 2017, including both men and women.

The bottom line is that a tummy tuck isn’t a weight loss program, but is a body contouring procedure that reshapes your abdomen by removing excess skin and repairing your abdominal muscles, leaving it flatter and more toned.

Treatment Options

There are three main options when it comes to abdominoplasty:

These procedures range from minor removal of hanging skin on your lower abdomen (a mini tummy tuck) to a major abdominoplasty where the surgeon tightens your entire abdomen for a full body lift. In all cases, he removes as much excess skin and fatty tissue as is practical and safe to create the desired sculptured look. He also tries to remove any stretch marks along with the excess skin, though he may not be able to remove all stretch-marked tissue.


tummy tuck procedure

During your tummy tuck procedure, the surgeon makes an incision along your lower abdomen and peels back your skin to reveal the abdominal muscles underneath. In many cases, these muscles have separated, so he starts by repairing them. Then the surgeon removes adipose fat from your abdomen through liposuction if you’ve opted for this part of the procedure.

When he’s finished, he pulls your skin back down taut and removes the excess tissue. After making a new hole for your belly button, if you’re having a full tummy tuck, he sutures the two ends together.

Tummy Tuck Techniques

Umbilical Float Abdominoplasty (Modified Tummy Tuck)

The muscles on the whole abdomen are tightened without tightening the skin as much as in a standard abdominoplasty. The incision is usually smaller than in a full tummy tuck.

Extended Abdominoplasty

The scar runs from behind the back of the hipbone around the front and to the back of the hipbone on the other side. This allows for tightening of the abdominal muscles, the abdominal skin, and the flank and lateral thigh.

Circumferential Abdominoplasty

(Also called a Body Lift or Belt Lipectomy), the scar runs all the way around the torso. It does everything an extended abdominoplasty does, but includes a Buttock Lift.

Pre-Operative Instructions

  1. If you smoke, it would be very beneficial if you refrain from smoking at least 4 weeks prior to your surgery. This is to help your lungs and circulation be in their best condition for surgery and to aid in wound healing.
  2. Please do not take any aspirin or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Aleve) for 2 weeks preceding surgery. These substances can cause excessive bleeding. You may take any Tylenol products if necessary.
  3. No diet pills or herbal supplements two weeks prior to surgery.
  4. On the day of surgery, please do not wear wigs, hairpins, jewelry, false eyelashes, or contact lenses. Wear or bring loose-fitting clothing. It would be a good idea to bring a pillow to make your ride home more comfortable.
  5. If you have long hair, please pull it away from your face with a band.
  6. Please have a bed or recliner chair ready for your return home. If using a bed, you will need plenty of pillows for under your knees and back. This will allow you to stay in a flexed position while you are healing.
  7. Please DO NOT EAT OR DRINK ANYTHING after midnight the night before surgery.
  8. Have prescriptions filled before your surgery.
  9. If you develop any illness prior to your surgery, contact our office as soon as possible.

Potential risks and complications

  • Wound Healing Problemsportions of the incision line may demonstrate delayed healing, requiring dressing changes.
  • Asymmetry: differences between the two sides of the abdomen may necessitate further surgery.
  • Seroma: fluid collection may require prolonged drainage or aspiration.
  • Infection: rare and usually treatable with antibiotics.
  • Bleeding: rare but may require surgical intervention.
  • Loss of Umbilical blood supply: very rare and may require revisionary surgery.
  • Deep Venous-Thrombosis/ Pulmonary Embolism: blood clots that form in the legs that may travel to the lungs causing difficulty with respiration and requiring hospitalization. Prevention is key using compression stockings and early ambulation.
  • Need for revisionary surgery: the above complications may necessitate further surgery.


If you’ve already had a tummy tuck procedure, but the results are less than satisfactory, your surgeon can address:

  • Hypertrophic/keloid scars (excessive scarring)
  • Scars that are too high
  • Irregular or uneven scars
  • Dog ears (bumps that form on the ends of the scar)
  • Unsatisfactory belly button appearance or location
  • Abdominal wall asymmetry


You should plan on resting in bed for the first week after your tummy tuck, and any activity after that shouldn’t stretch your abdomen (you may be hunched over for the first few weeks). Our team gives you full aftercare instructions, and they monitor your recovery and let you know when you can start to resume normal activities.

You can gradually return to limited exercise after 3 weeks with no impact or weight activities until 4-6 weeks after the operation.

With a healthy lifestyle consisting of regular exercise, a healthy diet, no significant weight gain, and no further pregnancies, the results achieved from an abdominoplasty should remain.

If you’d like to learn more about how a tummy tuck can sculpture a flatter, more toned belly, call Prime Plastic Surgery or use the online scheduler.

Post-Op Care Instructions

Tummy Tuck Post Op Care Instructions

  1. No driving for 3 weeks post tummy tuck surgery or until off narcotic pain medication completely.

  2. Please take the medications as directed. Antibiotic medication is for 2 weeks, pain, nausea and Valium medication are taken as needed. Never on an empty stomach and always space out the medications.

  3. Constipation is very common due to the pain medication and anesthesia, please use Colace over the counter or any laxative that has worked with you in the past. You may start taking something to help prevent constipation 2-3 days post surgery.

  4. If you develop a rash or think you are having an allergic reaction to the medication please call our office immediately. Sometimes Benadryl will help.

  5. No exercises for 6-8weeks post surgery

  6. No showers for 6 weeks post surgery. No ocean water or pool water for 8 weeks post surgery or until the incision is fully healed.

  7. No tanning or sun exposure to the incision until the incision has healed completely.

  8. Please do not put scar creams or ointments on the incision immediately after surgery, you may irritate the area or cause an allergic reaction.

  9. Patients need to be in the hunched over position for 4 weeks.

  10. Please use a walker during your 4-week recovery. Try to borrow a walker from a friend or family member or you may rent or buy a walker.

  11. Remember to move your feet back and fourth for 2 weeks post surgery.

  12. Remember to do the deep breathing exercises for 2 weeks post surgery.

  13. It is a good idea to have a recliner to help keep in that recovery position for sleeping. Often times you need a lot of soft pillows to help keep you comfortable.

  14. After surgery you will have lots of dressings, binder, drains, pain pump, and compression stockings provided to you. Please leave everything on until we see you, which is usually 7 days post surgery.

  15. Pain pump is removed 1-week post surgery.

  16. Drains are removed 2-4 weeks post surgery if they are ready. Drainage output of the drains needs to be below 20cc within a whole 24hr period.

  17. Patients must wear their surgical binder for a total of 2-4 weeks or until drains are removed and may start wearing a spanx garment.

  18. After drains are removed patients need to wear a spanx garment/la-jolla/body suit to help with the swelling for 4 weeks. The spanx garment needs to cover the whole abdomen area. You may find them through our office for the amount of $82, add $10 for shipping or you may also try your nearest department store Khols,Walmart, Target etc.

  19. After drains are removed we want to make sure that there is no fluid build up “Seroma”, please make sure to call the office if you feel you have developed fluid. Sometimes fevers, nausea will be a side affect or the abdomen area may have swelling and you can feel fluid move. Almost like a waterbed affect.

  20. You may expect to be swollen for a few months. Sometimes the most swelling will be at about 2 months post surgery and note that swelling will travel south so the pubic area may look swollen too.

  21. Bruising can take a few weeks before it goes away, arnica may help to minimize bruising.

  22. Patients may start applying scar creams to the incisions after 3 weeks if the incision line if it looks good and there are no open wounds or scabs.

  23. For Scar treatment, use prescription strength medication that helps prevent keloiding and redness or you may also use anything that has worked for you in the past. Scars will look their worst and angry looking closer to 2 months post surgery.

  24. It’s very normal to have some drainage or seapage from the incision line during the healing period.

  25. Incision lines and final results may take up to about a year. Sometimes sutures take time to dissolve, and sometimes you may have them reach the surface. This is normal and you may gently trim them.

  26. Please keep in touch via email, and send photos to us at your 2nd week, 4th week, 2nd month, 4th months, 6th month… etc.

  27. Please call us with any concerns Mon-Friday 8:30am-5:30 pm Saturdays from 9:00am-12pm at 619- 466-8851.

  28. If you would like to blog or write a testimonial of your experience in our office please see the following websites:
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    We hope to have made your experience unique and easy transition to your new look.


What is a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)?

A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is the operative procedure that reverses the changes caused by childbearing, weight loss or aging by contouring excess fat, removing the loose wrinkled skin, and usually tightening the stretched underlying muscles of the abdomen resulting in a flatter stomach and an improved waist.

Can exercise tighten loose skin without an abdominoplasty?

Unfortunately, exercise cannot tighten this loose skin. Although exercise is good for the mind and body, can tone muscles and increase metabolism assisting in weight loss it cannot tighten loose abdominal skin. To date, only surgery can reliably accomplish that.

Will a mini tummy tuck remove “love handles”?

A mini tummy tuck procedure does not affect the “love handle” area. However, there
are other procedures that can be recommended for treatment, for example: liposuction or extended tummy tuck.

How long does the surgery take?

It depends on your anatomy, extent of the procedure, and what other procedures that may be performed, but an abdominoplasty typically takes between two to three hours.

Are the results permanent?

With a healthy lifestyle consisting of regular exercise, a healthy diet, no significant weight gain, and no further pregnancies the results achieved from an abdominoplasty should remain. Significant weight gain or pregnancy could cause the abdominal muscles to stretch apart again, and reverse the results of the initial procedure. Patients should remember that cosmetic surgery is not a permanent fix, and the body will continue to age with some some relaxation of the tissues. It is important to follow all of the instructions, since you are a participant in your own care and be honest with your Doctor.

Can an abdominoplasty help me lose weight?

An abdominoplasty is not a weight loss surgery. Patients should not undergo abdominoplasty to lose weight. Rather, they should have already lost the weight through diet, exercise, or weight loss surgery and desire to improve the contour of their midsection.

When will I be able to see the results?

Patients will notice a dramatic improvement in the contours of their abdomen immediately after surgery. As swelling subsides over the next several weeks, the results of an abdominoplasty will gradually improve. Subtle further improvements will continue for 6 months to a year following a tummy tuck.

Is there much pain associated with an abdominoplasty?

Since everyone has a different appreciation of pain, the extent of pain with an abdominoplasty is quite variable. For most patients, the pain is not severe, may last several days, and is usually well-controlled with a prescription pain medication during this time. Most patients are ready to return to work and resume their daily activities within 1–2 weeks.

What should I expect postoperatively?

Some swelling and bruising are normal, but the amount varies from person to person. Recovery from tummy tuck surgery will vary depending on the person and the extent of the surgery. You are usually able to walk the first day after abdominoplasty surgery and you will be encouraged to do so. You should take a short walk three or four times a day for a few minutes each time. You will most likely not be able to stand completely straight and you may be a bit hunched over for several days. The skin of your abdomen may feel tight. If drains have been inserted, they are usually removed 4-10 days after tummy tuck surgery. You should take it easy for at least 2 weeks after surgery. You will wear an abdominal pressure garment for 3 weeks after your surgery to aid in the healing.

Can I combine a tummy tuck with breast surgery?

It is actually fairly common to combine a tummy tuck with some sort of breast enhancement operation. This combination is frequently referred to as a “Mommy Makeover”. Children predictably affect both the breasts and abdomen, so it makes sense that women considering abdominal improvement would also desire breast enhancement. Any of the breast operations (Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift, or Breast Reduction) can be combined with a tummy tuck.

Does a tummy tuck leave scars?

The scar resulting from tummy tuck surgery usually runs from hip to hip. However, the incision is made low on the stomach and is usually easily covered by undergarments and bikini bottoms. The scar will fade over time. In patients with greater skin laxity, an additional small incision around the navel may be necessary. The position and length of the incisions depends on the amount of excess skin to be removed and your individual anatomy, while the appearance of the scar depends on how you heal as an individual as well as the surgeon. Much of healing is genetically determined. The scar is usually preferable to the appearance of a sagging abdomen.

What is the length of time of a tummy tuck surgery?

It depends on the extent of the surgical correction, varying from 1 1/2 to 3 hours.

What if I plan to have additional children?

Pregnancy following tummy tuck surgery is possible and is not dangerous, but if you plan on future pregnancies, you should wait to have surgery until you are done having children, since pregnancy will stretch out the skin and abdominal muscles again, usually undoing the repairs that were achieved with the abdominoplasty.

What if I plan to lose a lot of weight?

If you intend to lose a lot of weight, wait until after your weight loss and you are within 10-15 pounds of your desired weight before you undergo an abdominoplasty.

Liposuction versus a tummy tuck- What is the difference?

Liposuction is ideal to contour the abdomen for those who have good skin tone, tight muscle and excess fat that is resistant to diet and exercise. It does not address the muscle, minimally tightens the skin (no matter which type of liposuction), and removes no excess skin.. If skin tone is poor with laxity and stretch marks, the results of liposuction alone will usually be disappointing. The tummy tuck is a better procedure for women who have lost the contour of their abdomen following pregnancy and for men and women following significant weight loss, since it addresses the three areas: skin, fat and muscle.

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