A Tummy tuck surgery or Abdominoplasty (the medical term),  is a procedure that flattens the abdomen by removing excess skin and fat on the stomach while tightening the muscles of the abdominal wall. 

A massive weight loss (MWL) is defined as 50% or greater loss of a person’s excess weight.

Samer W. Cabbabe

Different Types of Tummy Tuck Surgery

There are four types of tummy tuck surgery. 1 Each type is designed to target certain individuals body type, goals or specific issues. Let’s go over the types of tummy tuck and you can learn which is more suitable for your needs. 

First, let’s look at what needs to be fixed. There are usually three things surgeons look at when deciding an abdominoplasty treatment plan. 

  1. Skin – droopy, loose skin around the midsection, usually caused by pregnancy or weight loss. 
  2. Fatty tissue – stubborn deposits of fat, usually caused by aging, hormones, pregnancy, and genetics.
  3. Abdominal muscles – abdominal muscle separation – “pooch.” Stretching of the muscles is another cause to get your abdomen contoured. 

Okay! Let’s dive-in and learn more about the procedures.

Tummy Tuck surgery

1. The Full Tummy Tuck

The full tummy tuck – sometimes referred to as standard abdominoplasty – is ideal if you need to flatten the abdomen both above and below the belly button.  If you suffer from 1 (loose skin), 2 (fat) and 3 (stretched out abdominal muscles), then the full is the best option! 2 Standard abdominoplasties are the most commonly performed type of surgery. During this procedure, the surgeon will make a horizontal incision, hip-to-hip, as well as, around the belly button. This procedure requires the displacement of the belly button. With this procedure, you could lose two to four inches from your waistline.

2. Mini/Limited Tummy Tuck

Patients who best qualify for a mini tummy tuck are usually within 10 percent of their ideal body weight. Mini tummy tucks (also called partial abdominoplasties) usually target the lower abdomen area. If you have a tiny bit of loose skin and fat below the belly button, then this procedure is perfect. Usually, the surgeon will make a four to eight-inch incision along the bikini line. The small amount of excess skin gets removed via the incision. If there are deposits of fat, then the surgeon may use liposuction to target those fats. These types of tummy tucks are not very common since there is a small percentage of candidates. 

The limited tummy tuck 

Very similar to the mini tummy tuck, the limited (modified tummy tuck) involves a longer incision. 

3. Extensive Abdominal Contouring

The Extended Tummy Tuck

If the patient has trouble spots in the upper abdomen, lower chest, and back are then an extended tummy tuck may be recommended.

During this operation, the surgeon makes a horizontal incision along the bikini line that is very similar to a full tummy tuck. In addition, to help with complete removal of excess skin on the abdomen, lower chest, and back a full vertical midline incision will be made.

For patients with severe loose skin on the torso, the extended tummy tuck can produce more dramatic before-and-after results than a full tummy tuck.

Flankplasty

Flankplasty surgery is typically appropriate for patients with larger amounts of excess skin throughout the abdomen and trunk. This procedure is similar to a full tummy tuck because it requires a single incision on the lower torso. Flankplasty surgery involves a larger incision that extends three-quarters of the way around the lower torso. If you suffer from sagging flanks and abdomen, a flankplasty surgery can effectively target the stomach and hips.

Belt Lipectomy/Extended Belt Lipectomy

A belt lipectomy is appropriate for patients with large amounts of excess skin throughout the abdomen, trunk, hips, and buttocks. A belt lipectomy is a common workhorse procedure for patients who have lost large amounts of weight or have significant generalized skin laxity. 

The extended belt lipectomy combines a traditional belt lipectomy with the addition of a vertical midline incision. This surgery is typically appropriate for patients who have lost a massive amount of weight. They may require an aggressive approach to treating loose skin on the majority of the trunk

4. The Reverse Tummy Tuck

Opposite to the mini tummy tuck, the reverse tummy tuck is the removal of excess skin or fat of the upper abdomen. The surgeon will commonly make an incision under the bra line to remove the loose skin and fat from the upper torso. The surgeon usually performs this procedure in conjunction with breast lift surgery. 

Difference between Tummy Tuck and Liposuction

cosmetic liposuction surgery
cosmetic liposuction surgery in operating room

If you can’t decide between these two procedures – here is a short guide on the difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction.  3

Tummy Tuck

People get tummy tuck surgery for many reasons. People with loose or stretched out muscles from pregnancy and excessive skin from weight loss are great candidates. Of course, toning and sculpting the body through exercise is recommended. However, if there is excess and sagging skin then a tummy tuck could be necessary. As mentioned above, there are four types of tummy tuck surgeries. 

Liposuction

Liposuction is another procedure to tone the abdomen. The procedure is done to remove body fat in the small areas of the stomach and torso. Unlike the tummy tuck, excess skin and stretch marks are not removed or improved by liposuction. Just like the tummy tuck, liposuction is recommended for patients that are already at normal body weight. 4

In many instances, the doctor may perform a liposuction and tummy tuck at the same time. It is up to you and your surgeon. 

What is Coolsculpting Tummy Tuck

Coolsculpting “tummy tuck” is a non-surgical procedure. It is an approach that reduces unwanted fat with freezing technology. 5 Coolsculpting is sometimes called the lunch break tummy tuck. This method works best for patients that only have small areas of fat that needs to be reduced. It consists of several sessions and will only thin down 20% of the fat bulge. In order to target the entire abdomen, you will need 4-6 applicators laces in various positions over the abdomen. 6 To get the ultimate results, you will most likely need two to four treatments.

Tummy Tuck and Bladder Lift

Surgical operation abdominoplasty
Surgical operation abdominoplasty. Close-up of the patient on the operating table, surgical removal of fat tissue from the abdomen

Tummy tuck and bladder lift surgery might not make much sense, but it is highly recommended for women suffering from urinary incontinence after pregnancy. 7 As the baby drops lower in preparation for delivery, it places all of its weight directly on the bladder and the muscles of the pelvic floor. As the abdominal muscles weaken, it overstretches causing women to develop urinary incontinence. 

Tummy tuck procedure removes the excess loose skin and tightens the stretched abdominal muscles. This will cause a tightening and lifting effect around the bladder and pelvic area, which will improve the incontinence issue. 

Preparing for a Tummy Tuck Surgery

After rapid MWL, a patient may be left with excess skin and fat and loss of skin elasticity, resulting in stretch marks or striae. These patients are left with significant functional and cosmetic issues related to the excess skin and represent unique problems and challenges to plastic surgeons.”8

So you’ve decided to go through with the procedure, but did you know you need at least 6 months to get ready for this surgery. Read this guide for a timeline breakdown of how to plan for a tummy tuck.

6 Months before surgery – Diet and Exercise

The tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure that makes the abdomen look more sculpted and tighter, it is not a weight-loss procedure. Therefore, it is recommended to get the procedure when you are already at your ideal weight. This means that a few months before the surgery, you should get more serious about your diet and exercise routine. 9
If you e smokes cigarettes, it is crucial that you stop immediately. Smoking decreases the oxygen levels within the cells and causes the blood vessels to constrict – slowing the body’s ability to heal from surgery. You should also limit your alcohol intake during this time, as it can dramatically slow down recovery time. 

Surgeon drawing marks on abdomen, preparing woman for liposuction surgery
Surgeon drawing marks on the abdomen, preparing the woman for liposuction surgery
4 Months before surgery – Booking it

I bet you didn’t know this, but there is a difference between a plastic surgeon and a cosmetic surgeon. Any licensed physician can legally offer cosmetic procedures. There is no nationally recognized board for cosmetic surgery.  You’re going to need to find a qualified plastic surgeon who is board certified by a recognized medical board – the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). When the time comes for the consultation appointment, you need to make sure your goals, expectations, and concerns align with the recommendations of the surgeon. After you have made a decision on the best surgeon, they will go ahead and book your surgery date 3-4 months in advance.

stomach-drawn-for-tummy-tuck
3 Months before surgery – Put Your Affairs in Order

After they’ve booked the surgery, you should ask for time off from work. 10
You should take at least 2-3 weeks off from work: a week prior to the surgery to relax and get ready and two weeks after to recover. If you have children or pets, arrange care for them during this time. You will also need someone by your side for at least three days after surgery.  During this time, you should continue with your diet and exercise routine. Of course, completely quit smoking.

1 Month before surgery – Labs and Instructions

In the recovery stage, you need the least possible amount of stress. So preparing ahead of time will make the recovery much more comfortable. You should definitely stock up on supplies (i.e. extra pillows, gauze pads, comfortable clothing, ice packs, pain medication, and anything else you might need). Remember, the ultimate goal is to have a comfortable recovery at home. This means not worrying about food – create meals and freeze it for later! This will reduce stress and stop you from ordering take-out and eating unhealthy food.

By this time, you should get your lab testing and medical evaluation completed. Consult your doctor regarding the medications you’re currently taking and if you should stop or adjust them. Avoid taking anti-inflammatory drugs or herbal supplements, they can increase bleeding. You should check-in with your doctor on the day of the surgery and make sure to go over the pre-surgery checklist.

tummy tuck before and after

Average Cost of Tummy Tuck

As mentioned earlier, tummy tucks are completely individualized and personal treatments. So it would be impossible to provide an exact price that applies to everyone. 11 Tummy tuck cost differs based on a few factors and it can range from $3,000 to $12,000. 

Some of the factors that can change the cost of a tummy tuck are:

  1. The specific type of tummy tuck you choose
  2. Whether or not you need a combination of procedures 
  3. The surgeon you pick, their reputation and experience
  4. The geographic location where the procedure will take place
  5. The type of anesthesia you pick

Always be prepared for additional costs with cosmetic surgery. Additional costs may include the anesthesiologist’s fee and the surgical facility fee. 12

Because abdominoplasty is an elective cosmetic procedure, it is not covered by insurance companies. But, you are in luck, because most cosmetic surgeons are partnered with one or more financing companies offering payment options. In addition, there are medical financing companies that can find lenders for plastic surgery. And of course, most doctors accept cash, check or credit cards. 

How to Find a Surgeon for Tummy Tuck

So you made the decision to undergo tummy tuck surgery. The most vital part of the journey is going to be choosing the right surgeon. Not only is important to choose a surgeon that will provide the most beautiful and natural outcome, but also provide fewer risks and faster recovery. 13

Medical Training

First of all, a qualified plastic surgeon should have at least five years of medical training, with at least two of them focused on plastic surgery. Of course, the more experience the surgeon has in the field, the better it is. Always pick a plastic surgeon accredited by the American Board of Plastic Surgery.

Hospital Privileges

A qualified surgeon should also have hospital privileges. All hospitals run complete background checks. So if the doctor does not have privileges, there is a serious cause for concern. 

Experience

If you don’t know how to find a surgeon, we would advise looking for a doctor who performs tummy tucks on a regular basis. It is important to find a surgeon who has the experience and the tools to perform all types of tummy tucks, including full, mini, endoscopic, extensive and recovery procedures. 14

Most doctors should have before-and-after galleries of past procedures on their website or their office. You can look at these photos and determine whether or not the surgeon’s work is satisfactory. 

Personal Connection

While a doctor’s affiliations are definitely important, individuals should also check to make sure the doctor operates at a fully accredited center. In conclusion, patients need to make sure that they feel comfortable with the surgeon they choose. While safety and experience are very important, a personal connection is also vital in achieving the best results. 

Recovery After Abdominoplasty

This is a major surgical procedure, so the recovery after tummy tuck is extensive. You need to follow the doctor’s instructions for swift healing and minimal risks. 15

Time Off

You should expect to take a minimum of two weeks off from work. Depending on the type of procedure you have, it may require up to six weeks of recovery time. If you have small children, they should arrange for childcare prior to the surgery.

Some Movement

Moderate walking can aid in the healing process. You should avoid strenuous physical activity until otherwise instructed by their doctor.

Healthy Diet

Continuing and maintaining a healthy diet after the surgery is going to be very important. This is to counteract the effects of reduced activity levels. And of course, to provide you with nutrients to aid the healing process. 

Empty Tubes and Compression Garment

Some types of abdominoplasty may require surgeons to place drainage tubes under the skin. You will need to empty drainage tubes at least two to three times a day. It is going to be your responsibility to monitor the discharge in the tubes – to make sure there is no huge amounts of blood or unpleasant odor.

You will also need to change their bandages several times a day. 16

Some surgeons will advise wearing a compression garment around the stomach. Compression stockings can also help minimize the risk of blood clots. 

Medications

Over-the-counter medication can help to minimize discomfort. If needed, the doctor can prescribe a more powerful drug. He or she may also recommend an antibiotic to reduce the risk of infection.

You will have some scarring, but the surgeons are careful to minimize the scarring as much as possible.

All the Feelings
Tummy tuck before and after
Before And After Concept Showing Fat To Slim

At the beginning of the recovery, you might feel a little down. Laying around all day might get boring. Also, there will be a lot of swelling and bruising in the beginning, which will make you feel like you made a mistake. But after the recovery progresses and you can finally see the results of the abdominoplasty, you will feel a boost in your mood and self-esteem. 17

Abdominoplasty should last a very long time. It all depends on how well you take care of your body after the surgery. Continuing a healthy and active lifestyle will prolong the benefits of the surgery at least a decade.

  1. https://modernplasticsurgeon.com/blog/4-types-tummy-tucks-didnt-know-existed/
  2. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/different-tummy-tuck-techniques
  3. https://www.associatesinplasticsurgery.com/blog/the-difference-between-a-tummy-tuck-and-liposuction/
  4. https://www.westlakedermatology.com/blog/tummy-tuck-vs-liposuction/
  5. https://www.birthandbeyondmagazine.com/wellness-features-blog/tummy-tuck-vs-coolsculpting-whats-the-difference
  6. https://www.allure.com/story/tummy-tuck-surgery-abdominoplasty-guide
  7. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/news/press-releases/more-than-just-a-cosmetic-procedure-tummy-tuck-reduces-back-pain-and-incontinence
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140063/#b6-ms113_p0202
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6140063/#b3-ms113_p0202
  10. https://www.aestheticsurgerycenter.com/surgical/tummy-tuck
  11. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck/cost
  12. https://www.bankrate.com/finance/smart-spending/how-much-does-tummy-tuck-cost.aspx
  13. https://www.americanboardcosmeticsurgery.org/patient-resources/choosing-a-cosmetic-surgeon/
  14. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/patient-safety?sub=Choose+a+Plastic+Surgeon+You+Can+Trust
  15. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck/recovery
  16. https://www.healthline.com/health/tummy-tuck-recovery
  17. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/a19996976/tummy-tuck-facts/