At Plastic Surgery Northwest in Spokane, WA, our board-certified plastic surgeons perform tummy tuck surgery for women and men who have tried unsuccessfully to tone and tighten their midsections after pregnancy or significant weight loss. When the abdominal skin and muscles are stretched to a certain point, they are unable to shrink back to the new slimmer contours.
Tummy Tuck Candidates
The best candidates for a tummy tuck are in good health and at or near their target weight. This procedure can achieve the following improvements:
- Tightening loose skin that sags around the abdomen
- Repairing stretched abdominal muscles that cause a tummy bulge
- Contouring the waist
- Reshaping the belly button
- Revising a C-section scar
During your initial consultation at our practice in Spokane, WA, your surgeon will determine if a tummy tuck will give you the improvements you want. While the improvements from this procedure can be significant, it is not a weight loss procedure.
Types of Tummy Tuck
Our surgeons perform the following variations of the tummy tuck, each personalized to the patient’s needs:
- Traditional tummy tuck, also called a complete tummy tuck, is the technique best suited to most patients because it addresses the abdominal skin (above and below the navel) and muscles, and the belly button (navel).
- Mini tummy tuck provides limited contouring of skin and muscle below the navel to the pubic area. The incision for this technique is usually shorter than for the traditional tummy tuck.
- Extended tummy tuck contours the flanks in addition to the abdominal area. The incision continues around to the sides of the hips.
- Circumferential tummy tuck provides contouring all the way around the torso. This is the most extensive technique and is usually used for patients after massive weight loss.
Many women choose to combine tummy tuck surgery with breast augmentation or another breast procedure to have multiple improvements with a single surgery and recovery period. This custom combination of procedures is often called a mommy makeover.
About the Surgery
Our surgeons perform tummy tuck surgery as an outpatient procedure in our certified onsite surgery center. In most cases, the procedure is performed using general anesthesia.
For a traditional tummy tuck, the surgeon makes a horizontal incision low on the abdomen that runs between the hip bones. Special care is taken to place the incision where the scar will be low enough to be covered by underwear and swimsuits whenever possible. A second incision is made around the navel to free it from the overlying tissue.
If necessary, the surgeon will bring stretched or separated abdominal muscles (rectus) together along the midline and suture them together. Excess pockets of fat may be removed from the hips, waist, and belly using liposuction. Once this contouring is complete, the surgeon pulls the outer skin down over the reshaped abdomen, creates an opening for the navel, trims away excess skin, and sutures the incisions closed.
Tummy Tuck Recovery
It is important to understand that recovery after a tummy tuck varies between patients. We administer a long-acting local anesthetic called EXPAREL® during the surgery to control pain for the first few days. In most cases our surgeons, perform “drainless” tummy tucks; however, approximately 20% of patients will need drains placed after surgery to release fluid buildup (seroma) in the surgical area.
For the first 2 to 3 weeks after surgery, it is normal to have difficulty standing completely upright due to the tightness of your abdominal skin and muscles. You will be instructed to wear a compression garment that supports the torso and provides gentle pressure to reduce swelling as your body heals. Drains are typically removed within 2 weeks of surgery.
Returning to Work
Most patients take approximately 3 weeks away from work, though sometimes it is possible to return to less physically demanding jobs slightly sooner.
Resuming Physical Activity
Because it takes time for the abdominal muscles to heal together strongly enough to resist stressful muscular maneuvers, you will need to avoid heavy lifting and core muscle workouts for up to 12 weeks after surgery.
Tummy Tuck Results
It will take some time for your torso contours to evolve into their new shape, so be patient. Most patients see significant improvement over the first 3 months after surgery as swelling subsides; in most cases, the area continues to firm up for several months or more. It will likely take 6 months until your abdomen feels just like you again. It is normal to experience numbness of the lower central abdomen for several months to years.
You will have a scar on your lower abdomen where the extra skin has been removed. It is usually dark pink and firm 1 to 3 months after surgery, but gradually flattens and fades over the following months. Most patients consider this scar a fair tradeoff for having a firmer, flatter abdomen again.
View before-and-after photos of tummy tuck.