Abdominoplasty, commonly called a tummy tuck, is a procedure designed to tighten sagging abdominal muscles and give the stomach region a flatter and smoother appearance. If you would like to improve the appearance of a hanging or protruding abdomen, a tummy tuck can be used to create a slimmer body contour and an improved abdominal profile. This is accomplished by removing excess skin and fat in the midsection, as well as tightening loose abdominal muscles. Board-certified plastic surgeon Joe Gryskiewicz, MD offers abdominoplasty at his Minneapolis-area practice and can help you achieve a slimmer abdomen with natural-looking results. Tummy tuck surgery is considered a state-of-the-art procedure to tighten the abdominal area, as the results achieved usually cannot be replicated with other types of body plastic surgery.
Who is a Candidate for Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Abdominoplasty is not a weight-loss procedure, but it can benefit patients who are in relatively good shape and struggle with extensive fatty deposits or loose abdominal skin, which often prove unresponsive to diet or exercise. If you plan to lose weight, Dr. Joe recommends doing your best to achieve weight loss goals before abdominoplasty—surgeons can typically obtain flatter results by removing as much skin as possible. A tummy tuck may be able to help you achieve your cosmetic goals if you experience:
- Loose, excess skin around the abdomen
- Stretched or separated abdominal muscles
- Stubborn fatty deposits in the abdominal area
The procedure is most commonly performed for women after they have had children. Pregnancy can cause the lower abdominal muscles to stretch out and become displaced from the midline, a concern that is often accompanied by excess subcutaneous (fatty) tissue. The lower abdomen is typically a fat storage area for women and was probably designed by nature to protect from famine, similar to the hump on a camel. These fat pockets are extremely resistant to diet and exercise.
Therefore, many tummy tuck patients are simply restoring their past figures from B.C. (Before Children). This isn’t considered vanity; it’s a reclaiming of self or a healthy undoing of the past. Exercise will strengthen and firm separated abdominal muscles, but all the sit-ups in the world cannot tighten muscles if they have spread apart due to pregnancy. Older patients who have lost skin elasticity and developed mild areas of fullness can also benefit from abdominoplasty. Only four percent of patients undergoing tummy tucks are men, and most individuals are of “baby boomer” age.
Tummy Tuck Consultation
During your consultation, it is important to reveal what changes to your appearance you expect to see after surgery. Based on your exam and a subsequent discussion about your goals, you may decide not to have the surgery at all. Be sure to ask your surgeon for a candid response about the limitations of a tummy tuck based on your personal anatomy. In some cases, liposuction alone may be able to achieve a good result. It is similarly important to balance your expectations with a realistic goal.
In determining the type of outcome you would like to achieve, review before-and-after photos of previous patients with a pre-operative anatomy similar to yours and compare their results with what you wish to see. Regardless of which variation of abdominoplasty you and your surgeon select, be certain that the most revealing clothing you are likely to wear will cover incision lines. If you decide to pursue surgery, t’s a good idea to wear a swimsuit the morning of the procedure to use as a reference. Dr. Joe draws incisions for his patients while they’re looking in a mirror so they can verify their satisfaction with the incision placement.
This is not a simple operation. Your surgeon will want to assess your health history and determine the extent of your fatty deposits as well as your skin and muscle tone. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, and report all medications and supplements you are taking. Due to the complications that smoking causes during the healing process, Dr. Joe will not operate on active smokers.
How is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?
Abdominoplasty is usually performed as a same-day surgery. Generally, surgeons perform abdominoplasty under general anesthesia, rendering patients completely asleep with a breathing tube during the procedure. Other surgeons may utilize local anesthesia with heavy intravenous sedation to keep you in a twilight sleep, depending on the extent of the procedure. With this anesthesia, you shouldn’t feel any pain but could possibly experience some pressure or tugging.
There are several different abdominoplasty procedures available depending on a patient’s needs and anatomy. You will discuss the procedure carefully with your surgeon to determine which technique is right for you. Endoscopic abdominoplasty is used in rare cases wherein a patient suffers from muscle relaxation, but has good skin tone and requires removal of little to no skin.
In general, all abdominoplasties will begin with liposuction to smooth out unwanted fullness in certain areas. Then, a one- to two-inch incision will be made in a natural skin crease or within an old surgical scar. The skin is elevated along the middle of the abdomen, sometimes all the way up to the lower end of the breastbone. Special endoscopy instruments are used to place strong muscle sutures in order to flatten the middle of the abdomen. Additional small incisions may be placed higher along the abdomen. The procedure lasts about two hours.
Modified or Limited Abdominoplasty
If a modified or limited tummy tuck is indicated, the lower abdominal muscles on either side of the abdomen will be exposed through a crosswise incision along the upper pubic hairline. The incision will be placed following the liposuction portion of surgery. The incision length depends on your anatomy. Sutures will then be placed in the midline to tighten the tummy. Additional sutures may also be placed on the sides of the lower abdomen to tighten these areas.
Excess skin and some underlying fatty tissue are trimmed. Finally, additional liposuction contouring may be performed before the incision is closed. A drainage tube is usually placed to prevent any accumulation of blood or serum during the first few days after surgery. This procedure generally lasts between one and a half to two and a half hours.
Complete or Classic Abdominoplasty
This procedure generally requires an incision from hip to hip across the lower abdomen. The actual length of the incision depends on your anatomy. During surgery, the abdominal muscles are tightened by pulling them into the midline and stitching them to their original position. This firms up the abdominal wall. Additional sutures can be placed to narrow the waistline. Dr. Joe always uses compression boots during the procedure as well as into the recovery room to squeeze blood through the legs and prevent blood clots from forming. Your natural belly button should be left attached to the underlying muscles.
Skin and subcutaneous tissue are stretched and removed. A new opening is made for the navel through the overlying skin. One or two suction drains will be placed prior to suture closure. Butterfly skin tapes, sterile dressings, and an abdominal binder are usually applied. The surgery may last two to three hours.
How Will I Feel After Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Once discharged, you will need assistance from a friend or loved one to drive you home and help around the house for a few days. Pain from a full tummy tuck is generally reported as an eight on a scale of 1 to 10, with ten resembling the pain of a kidney stone and nine mirroring the sensation of delivering a baby. Usually the abdomen is bruised for about three weeks and feels slightly numb or unusual for several months and—in some cases—for the rest of a patient’s life to a slight degree. This is not disabling, but the area may not feel quite “right” when touched.
You will be discharged several hours after the procedure is done. You will have one or two drains, which are small plastic tubes connected to a light bulb-shaped reservoir. The compressible reservoir creates gentle suction to remove excess fluid from the surgical area. Your recovery room nurse will teach you how to properly care for the drain prior to your discharge from the surgery center. You’ll receive pain pills and, possibly, a prophylactic antibiotic. Dr. Joe prefers to have complete tummy tuck patients return home with bladder catheters so they don’t have to get out of bed during the night to urinate. Dr. Joe’s patients also wear elastic stockings to help prevent blood clots in the legs.
What is Recovery Like After a Tummy Tuck?
Tummy tuck patients will need to avoid heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for six to eight weeks, so there is definitely a prolonged recovery period. Dr. Joe suggests avoiding lifting anything heavier than about ten pounds (the equivalent of a full grocery bag) during this time. Lifting children carefully should be fine, as long as you hold them close to yourself. Think of the operation as a hernia repair from “stem to stern,” and treat yourself gently.
Dr. Joe asks patients to walk hunched over for about a week to keep tension off the incision line. You may return to work in one or two weeks as long as your duties don’t involve heavy lifting. If you have a physically demanding job, you may need to work on light duty for a month. It may take a month or two before you feel like your old self again. Studies show people who are in the best shape possible before surgery have the fastest recovery.
The incision will be pink for several months and then fade over the subsequent year. If your scar rises, becomes tender, or stays reddened, you may need additional treatment such as a cortisone injection. Mild depression is normal after surgery, and usually a result of the biochemical changes caused by the anesthesia and surgery. This should dissipate fairly quickly.
After I met with you for my initial consultation I knew you were the doctor I wanted to perform my surgery. Right away, you established a wonderful rapport with me. I felt very much at ease as you listened to my cares and concerns and answered all my questions without making me feel uncomfortable or rushed.
What Will My Scars From a Tummy Tuck Look Like?
Abdominoplasty can flatten a protruding abdomen, but the trade-off is a scar running along the lower abdomen. The shape and size of the scar can sometimes be limited by endoscopic surgery. Some scars extend from hip to hip depending on how much skin is removed, and additional scars may appear around the belly button. Scars from tummy tuck surgery are permanent, but can fade and pink to some degree over time if incisions are probably cared for in the recovery period.
How Much Will a Tummy Tuck Cost?
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the cost of a tummy tuck generally ranges between $5,000 to $9,000 depending on the amount of surgical work necessary and the overall complexity of the procedure. This range includes fees for the anesthesia, surgical facility, post-operative care, and other related expenses. Our patient care coordinator will be able to provide you with a personalized quote once Dr. Joe assesses your concerns and goals in a consultation. To make it easier for patients to pursue their procedure of choice while managing the costs of surgery, our practice accepts plastic surgery financing from CareCredit® and ALPHAEON™ Credit— two leading healthcare lending companies that each offer qualified patients an array of flexible payment plans. Once approved, individuals who prefer to pay for their surgery in smaller installments can select the best arrangement for their budgetary concerns. If you have any questions about the cost of a tummy tuck, or our accepted payment methods, please contact our practice.
Can I Get a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck?
Since the main component of tummy tuck surgery involves bringing together and tightening separated abdominal muscles, there is currently no non-surgical technique that can achieve the same quality of results as a tummy tuck. However, Dr. Joe offers non-surgical treatment options to address loose skin in the body as well as excess fat, respectively. Venus Legacy® is a non-invasive technology from our medical spa that uses radiofrequency energy and Pulsed Electro Magnetic Fields to reduce cellulite and wrinkles, often resulting in tighter-looking skin. This in-office procedure can improve the face, body, or lower extremities for results that appear very natural. For pockets or bulges of excess fat, Dr. Joe also offers CoolSculpting® to slim and contour virtually any body area using controlled cooling technology. As one of the most popular methods of non-surgical fat reduction available, CoolSculpting® can help smooth “love handles,” “bra rolls,” and other regions by removing up to 20 to 30 percent of fat in the treated area(s). With both Venus Legacy® and CoolSculpting®, there is no downtime necessary after the procedure. Dr. Joe and our team of aesthetic professionals can help you formulate the best treatment plan for your needs and cosmetic goals.
What are the Risks of Tummy Tuck Surgery?
The problems Dr. Joe has encountered with tummy tuck surgery tend to be the same as issues that may arise for all cosmetic procedures. Irregularity or asymmetry may persist, and touch-up surgery may be required. A number of patients develop fluid collections after their drains are removed. Sometimes this requires draining, which is done with a needle in the clinic. Rare instances of permanent fluid buildup have been reported. Treatment to correct lasting fluid accumulation involves another operation to remove the tissue lining that is continuing to form abnormal fluid.
Bad scarring is another possible complication. Infection is rare and usually treated with antibiotics or surgical drainage. Excessive bleeding is unusual, and drainage tubes are utilized to address this possibility. Geometrical problems, such as elevation of the pubic hairline or a lack of central placement of the belly button, are potential risks. Dr. Joe curves the incision over the pubis and makes precise preoperative measurements to prevent these issues from occurring.
Blood clots can be avoided by being active after your procedure. To avoid blood clots, Dr. Joe uses compressive stockings or mechanical devices on the operating table to squeeze the patient’s calves. Walking as soon as possible is helpful to maintaining muscle strength and preventing blood clots. Surgeons may instruct patients to perform ankle and foot exercises after surgery to improve blood circulation.
Additional Tummy Tuck FAQs
What concerns cannot be addressed with a tummy tuck?
Some patients store fat inside the abdomen and around the intestines. As a result, the large amount of internal tummy fat can push out the entire abdominal wall. This may result in the appearance of a beer belly, but there isn’t actually much subcutaneous fat on the outer abdominal wall. Unfortunately, these patients are not candidates for abdominoplasty. The overall protrusion caused by internal fat (visceral fat) cannot be corrected surgically because the muscles are stretched everywhere rather than simply separated in the middle, which is usually the case following pregnancies.
Should I undergo abdominoplasty before or after pregnancy?
Women who plan on a future pregnancy should wait to have abdominoplasty, as the vertical muscles running up and down the abdomen—commonly known as the “six-pack”—will stretch during pregnancy, likely reversing surgical results. If a patient is unsure whether she would like to have a baby in the future, or isn’t planning on starting a family for many years, Dr. Joe leaves the decision to their discretion. In general, plastic surgeons defer abdominoplasty until after a patient is finished with childbearing to obtain the best possible long-term result.
Is tummy tuck covered by insurance?
A tummy tuck is not usually covered under medical insurance since it is classified as a cosmetic procedure. However, Gryskiewicz Twin Cities Cosmetic Surgery accepts financing plans from CareCredit® and ALPHAEON® Credit to help patients make out-of-pocket costs more manageable. Both healthcare lending companies offer qualified applicants interest-free payment options that can be utilized towards surgical expenses.
How long does a tummy tuck last?
The results of a tummy tuck are designed to last a lifetime, with most patients enjoying their flatter and smoother abdominal contour for 15 to 20 years and even longer. Individuals can maximize the outcome of their tummy tuck by avoiding future pregnancy and weight fluctuation that may cause re-separation of the muscles in the abdomen.
Can a tummy tuck get rid of stretch marks?
Abdominoplasty can sometimes get rid of stretch marks depending on where they are located. In most cases, the likelihood of removing stretch marks with a tummy tuck is greater when they are located below the navel and above the pubic region. Dr. Joe will determine whether this is possible when he evaluates your concerns.
How painful is a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck generally causes tenderness, soreness, swelling, and sometimes numbness during recovery. Most patients report mild pain if they experience any, and easily control discomfort with oral medications.