About Tummy Tucks

1. What is a tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure commonly used to remove excess skin and tighten stomach muscles. A tummy tuck may include liposuction to remove excess fat from the abdomen.  In this procedure an incision is made from hip bone to hip bone low on the waist just above the pubic hair level.  Next, the surgeon will manipulate and shape the skin and muscles as needed.  Before liposuction was invented, a tummy tuck was the only means of removing excess fat from the abdomen but it leaves a large scar across the abdomen.

2. How does abdominal liposuction differ from tummy tuck?

Liposuction removes fat found in the abdomen with minimal scarring. A tummy tuck removes excess skin in addition to fat being removed via liposuction. A tummy tuck leaves a significant scar and requires relocation of the belly button. In many cases, liposuction alone is sufficient to make the abdomen appear tighter and smoother because the skin contracts smoothly once fat is removed. Liposuction leaves small, barely visible scars, if any. Finally, recovery from liposuction is faster and easier than recovery from a tummy tuck.

3. What are the advantages of a tummy tuck (compared to liposuction)?

A tummy tuck is only advantageous for patients who have very little skin elasticity in the lower abdomen, unusually extensive stretch marks, or severely stretched abdominal muscles that can result from pregnancy. A tummy tuck removes the excess skin and tightens the abdominal muscles since the skin and muscles cannot naturally contract with fat loss. Liposuction is a better option for people who have good skin elasticity and no stretched abdominal muscles. On most patients, loose skin will contract when excess fat has been removed by liposuction. A tummy tuck is usually not necessary on most patients.

4. What are the disadvantages of a tummy tuck?

Tummy tucks result in significant scars that run from hip to hip just above the pubic area. The scar is hidden by swimwear but very noticeable when clothes are not worn. A tummy tuck also usually requires that the belly button be relocated and reconstructed, which can sometimes result in an unnatural looking belly button. A tummy tuck has a higher risk of surgical complications than liposuction and recovery is longer with a tummy tuck.