Tummy tuck primer: What to expect

A tummy tuck can help people feel more comfortable in their body but it is major surgery, not a quick fix. Photo: Alex E. Proimos

CHICAGO November 16, 2012 - Dieting and exercise does not always melt away excess body fat, particularly fat carried in the abdomen. Age and physical changes can erode the elasticity of our skin. A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, remedies these problems well enough to make people more comfortable with their appearance.    

Although “tummy tuck” sounds quick and simple, it is a major surgical procedure for the removal of excess fat or sagging skin from the belly area. The operation takes four to five hours to perform and recovery from surgery is two to four weeks. 

Swelling, pain, bleeding, burning, temporary numbness, and drainage are possible side effects. It takes nine months to a year for the surgical scars to lighten in color and appear flat. The result is permanent but can be compromised by sizable weight fluctuations. 

Complete and Mini Tucks 

People who have fat deposits above and below their navel usually undergo complete tummy tucks. 

An incision is made at the patient’s pubic hairline from one hip to the other. The next incision is perpendicular to the first, running up to and maybe beyond the belly button. The belly button may be temporarily detached from the tissue beneath it and moved to the side. There are no records of doctors losing a patient’s navel.  

Those with sagging skin or fat deposits below the navel may qualify for a mini-tuck. 

The mini starts with the same hip to hip incision as a complete tuck, but the second incision is shorter, leaving the navel undisturbed. This procedure is beneficial for those with excess skin resulting from a large weight loss, and those who have lost skin elasticity from multiple pregnancies, or aging. 

Good candidates for tummy tucks are: 

1. People whose weight has been stable the previous months.

2. People who are in generally good health.

3. Women who are through with childbearing.

4. Those who do not smoke have a lower risk of problems with anesthesia.

5. People who are constantly bothered by their abdomen’s appearance. 

Liposuction is reserved for those who want to eliminate pockets of excess body fat. This procedure sculpts the body by breaking up the fat so it can be suctioned out. Incisions are small, but the possible side effects are the same as for tummy tucks.  


Learn much more about tummy tucks and liposuction from the professionals at SF Cosmetic Surgery.




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Jacqueline Marshall

Jacqueline Marshall is a writer for Help For Depression, and freelances primarily in the areas of psychology and personal development. She has a MA in Counseling Psychology and is a licensed therapist living near Chicago.

Jacqueline has experience helping those diagnosed with severe, persistent mental illness, and in providing general therapy services for individuals, couples, and families. Prior to counseling, she worked in graphic design and music education.

When not writing or counseling, Jacqueline enjoys reading literature and math-less books about quantum physics. She is a published poet, and has studied animal communication and energy healing.  


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