We all want to have a flat stomach, but few of us can say we actually have one. Part of the problem is anatomy. No matter how good you are about eating right and exercising, the human body tends to develop a pooch in the lower abdomen. This, of course, is especially true if you’re a woman who has had gone through the localized weight gain and loss of pregnancy.
What is a tummy tuck?
Clinically known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck removes excess skin and fat and tightens or re-centers separated stomach muscles. This procedure gives patients a flatter, smoother, more contoured abdomen.
Why would someone need a tummy tuck?
Pregnancy is tough on a woman’s lower abdomen. The localized weight gain and subsequent loss can stretch the skin and support tissues to such a degree that they cannot return to their former degree of tautness. Pregnancy can actually cause the stomach muscles to separate in the center of the abdomen.
Even if you haven’t had children, as we age our skin and muscles tend to slacken. No matter how many crunches you do, it’s still likely you have a slight pooch just above your hipbones.
Tummy tuck surgery corrects these issues.
What are the benefits of a tummy tuck for women and men?
Flatter stomach anyone? Who wouldn’t like to have the flat stomach they used to have in their 20s? That’s what a tummy tuck can do. When this procedure involves re-centering separated stomach muscles, Dr. Babbitt can actually narrow the patient’s waist. For men, just about everyone has some degree of stomach pooch no matter what kind of shape they are in. This surgery can remove that.
Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck is more about skin and muscle than fat, so the best candidates have loose, inelastic skin that won’t tighten with diet and exercise. If you mainly have stubborn pockets of fat but your skin is still very elastic, liposuction is a better procedure for you.
Tummy tucks are great for women who have had children or for anyone who has gained and then lost a significant amount of weight. This has stretched the abdominal skin and support tissues to the degree they cannot rebound. And if the stomach muscles have separated, there is no exercise in the world that can reverse that. But a tummy tuck can.
I’m considering having more children. Can I still have a tummy tuck?
Dr. Babbitt stresses to patients during their consultation that they must be sure they are not going to have any more children. This isn’t an arbitrary thing: the localized gain and loss of weight will wipe out all of the changes made in your tummy tuck surgery. Plus, the weight gain can stretch and distort your incision scars, which is the last thing you want. If you’re even contemplating getting pregnant again, this procedure needs to wait.
What happens during my consultation?
When you come in for a tummy tuck consultation with Dr. Babbitt or Christina DeVincent PA-C, the goal is a two-way interchange so we can ascertain your goals and wishes for the procedure and you can ask us any questions you have about the procedure, our experience, the facilities, or anything else.
During your consultation, we will stress the importance of being sure you’re not going to get pregnant again, as well as the necessity of being within 10 percent of your ideal weight. We’ll discuss what is entailed with your recovery, the risks, and what you can expect from the procedure overall.
Are there different types of tummy tuck procedures?
There are different methods or types of tummy tucks. During your consultation, we will discuss your options depending on your situation. Here are brief descriptions of the various methods:
- Traditional or full tummy tuck — This method involves one long incision, usually spanning from hipbone to hipbone, that addresses loose sagging skin on the lower abdomen. A second incision is made up around the belly button area to address sagging above the belly button. A traditional tummy tuck allows tightening across the entire abdominal area and removes a good deal of excess skin and underlying fat. Abdominal muscles are brought back to the center and re-attached if necessary. Liposuction is often added to remove some pockets of fat.
- Mini or partial tummy tuck — This procedure is for patients who don’t have lots of excesses, sagging skin, but still want to remove a small pooch in the lower stomach area. Only the lower incision is made and it usually won’t span the same length as with a full tummy tuck.
- Lateral tension tummy tuck — This is similar to a traditional tummy tuck, but the high lateral tummy tuck uses both horizontal pulling as well as vertical pulling and tightening. This works to slim the contour and it can tighten the skin above the navel to a higher degree.
- Reverse tummy tuck — This rare method involves an incision below the breasts or at the breast crease. It is focused on tightening the skin from the navel to the breasts.
- Extended tummy tuck — This method takes the lower incision from the full tummy tuck and extends it past the hipbones. The incision may wrap around the flanks to better address them, or it can extend all the way around to the back to allow tightening and tissue removal of the upper buttocks.
How is tummy tuck surgery performed?
During your consultation with Dr. Babbitt or Christina, you’ll discuss your options for which tummy tuck method fits your unique situation. This will depend on where you have loose skin and weakened muscles. Here are descriptions of the three most common tummy tuck surgeries:
- In a full tummy tuck, a horizontal incision is made to address the lower abdomen below the navel. The goal is for the scar from the incision to be covered by a bikini bottom or underwear, so the incision will start at the hipbones and descend down to the top of the pubic area. The shape and length of the incision is dependent on the amount of excess skin involved. After the incision(s) are made, the upper abdominal skin is pulled away from the muscle beneath. The underlying muscles are evaluated, and if needed will be pulled together and stitched into place for a firmer abdomen and narrower waist. The skin is then stretched down and over the newly tightened muscles, excess skin is trimmed, and the navel may be moved to a new, natural position. The incisions are then closed.
- For extended tummy tucks, the lower incision extends to the flanks and sometimes around the side of the hips. Again, there is variability here and we will discuss what option best fits your needs.
- In a mini tummy tuck, the incision made is shorter and the skin is only lifted to the navel area and the navel remains in place. A mini tuck is ideal for patients who don’t have large amounts of loose skin, and whose muscle strength is still relatively strong. The tightening here is usually centered on the lower stomach to remove a smaller pooch.
What will my recovery from abdominoplasty be like?
Abdominoplasty with the team at Plastic Surgery of Southern New England is major surgery involving large incisions and extensive tissue repositioning. This doesn’t make for an easy recovery. You will have pain along your incisions, but you’ll have pain medication. We’ll have you up and walking after your surgery, with assistance. It will help your healing process if you take three to four short walks for just a few minutes daily. In the beginning, you’ll be a little hunched over, and the skin on your abdomen will feel very tight. In full tucks, it’s likely we will have placed drains to help reduce fluid buildup. These will be removed usually within the first week or two. We place you in compression garments with two purposes: to help minimize swelling and to help your skin adapt to its new slimmer contour.
You’ll likely be able to return to work in two weeks, but you may need longer. If you have a sedentary job, this will be easier than if you stand for portions of your job. There will be residual soreness; this will diminish within a couple of weeks, but it can come and go for a couple of months. Any strenuous exercise or lifting of any amount of weight will need to be put off for at least six weeks.
Is a tummy tuck part of a mommy makeover?
Our mommy makeover procedures include a tummy tuck, along with a breast lift (with or without augmentation), and sometimes liposuction.
Will a tummy tuck get rid of my stretch marks?
Stretch marks are created when the skin is severely stretched in a relatively short period of time, such as the rapid gain of the localized weight of pregnancy. Tummy tucks will tighten the skin, but this doesn’t remove stretch marks. However, if your stretch marks occur on excess, sagging skin that is removed, then they will be removed in that area.
What other procedures can be combined with a tummy tuck?
Mommy makeovers combine a tummy tuck, breast surgery, and sometimes liposuction into a single surgical session. This combination of surgeries address the areas impacted directly by pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding. Some degree of liposuction is usually included with all of our tummy tuck procedures. A thigh lift or buttocks lift could be added to this surgery, usually by extending the lower incision.
How can I minimize my incision scars from my tummy tuck?
These surgeries create a lengthy incision scar. That is unavoidable. Dr. Babbitt tries to minimize the appearance of the lower incision by dropping it down to the pubic area. This enables the patient to hide the incision under a bathing suit bottom or underwear. If there is a belly button incision, it often can be made from within the belly button to eliminate a visible scar.
There are a couple of keys to minimizing the appearance of incision scars. First, don’t place any stress on your incisions. Wear your compression garments, and avoid movements that you can feel pull on your incisions. Second, keep sunlight off of your incisions. Third, massage your incisions. After the wound is fully closed and sutures are removed, it helps to massage the incision and the surrounding tissue. Use lotion so that your fingers don’t stick to your skin, but slide freely.
What are dog ears and how can I avoid them?
The term “dog ears” refers to protruding skin at the extreme ends of a closed incision. These can develop in surgeries that involve skin tightening and require elliptical incisions, such as tummy tuck surgery. Some patients are prone to developing dog ears while others are not.
The expertise of Dr. Babbitt, who is a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive training and experience, is important to avoid the development of dog ears. We strive to reduce pressure on the skin during suturing, which keeps scars thin and helps them fade effectively. It also helps that the patient keep her skin healthy, as proper skincare helps to keep the skin pliable.
We advise our patients to wait at least six months after their tummy tuck before worrying about possible dog ears. This allows the incisions to fully settle and heal. In this time, the extended skin can have time to resorb and the incision can fully flatten.
Schedule A Consultation
If you are interested in a Tummy Tuck or want to learn more, schedule a consultation with us by calling (508) 567-3202. Our practice serves Fall River, Massachusetts and the rest of the surrounding areas.