Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

A tummy tuck (also called abdominoplasty) does exactly what the name says: it tucks in a protruding tummy. Many tummy tuck patients who visit our Northern California providers in cities like San Francisco, Sacramento and San Jose, and have excess skin, stretch marks, and often separated abdominal muscles that contribute to the laxity in their midsections. A tummy tuck can help address these conditions for a slimmer waist and a firmer, flatter abdomen.

About Tummy Tuck

This procedure involves the removal of fat and skin from the abdomen and the tightening of the muscles around the abdomen. A tummy tuck is more extensive than liposuction, which only removes fat.

A tummy tuck is often requested by women who’ve had children and want to tighten abdominal laxity. It is also a component of many post-weight loss body contouring surgeries. There are different types of tummy tucks that can be tailored to your specific needs.

What Is the Treatment Like?

The area of skin that will be removed is carefully marked, and then an incision is made on the bikini line from hip bone to hip bone. Your surgeon then makes a second incision around the navel. Your surgeon pulls down excess skin and removes it, along with the underlying fatty tissue. Your surgeon may also bring your abdominal muscles together with sutures to tighten them and trim your waist. After the procedure, the incision is closed with several layers of sutures.

With a mini-tummy tuck, the incision is much shorter, and there is usually no incision around the navel. Some of the lower abdominal skin is removed and the lower abdominal muscles are tightened. Mini-tummy tucks can be effective with patients who have relatively mild abdominal bulges or excess skin only in the lower part of the abdomen. Since many patients are not candidates for a mini-tummy tuck, it is important to discuss your options with your physician.

Am I a Candidate?

The best candidates are individuals who are generally in good shape, but have loose skin or large abdominal fat deposits that do not respond to diet and exercise. Women whose abdomens have been stretched from multiple pregnancies may also benefit from a tummy tuck.

If you plan to lose a lot of weight, it’s better to postpone a tummy tuck until you’ve reached your target weight. If you are a woman, you should also wait until after you have had your last child.

What Can I Expect Before and After Treatment?

Before Your Treatment

You’ll begin with a consultation with a surgeon, who will talk to you about your health goals and give you an examination. The surgeon will check your abdomen while you’re standing and lying down and assess your skin tone and the amount of loose skin in the area. He or she will also evaluate the amount of fat in your abdomen and the condition of your abdominal muscles. Together, you’ll discuss the various options available and decide on the treatment that’s right for you.

If you decide to have a tummy tuck, your surgeon will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for surgery. Generally, you should stop smoking and stop using nicotine patches and gum at least four to six weeks prior to surgery. You should also avoid overexposure to the sun. You may be asked to stop taking certain medications, including some that may increase bleeding. Don’t go on a strict diet before your treatment, because a diet could make it harder for your body to heal.

If you develop a cold or infection, your procedure may be postponed.

A complete tummy tuck typically takes between 3 and 4 hours under general anesthesia. A mini-tummy tuck takes between 1 and 2 hours. The procedure is done at one of our hospitals or at an outpatient surgical center. You’ll have a permanent scar — in some cases extending from hip to hip. But the scar may lighten over time and won’t be visible under most clothing. Whenever possible, the surgeon will make the incision along the panty line to help conceal the scar.

After Your Treatment

Abdominoplasty is typically an outpatient procedure. However, some patients choose to stay in an aftercare facility that offers nursing for a day or two. Everyone’s recovery is different, but you should start walking as soon as possible to get your blood circulating. At first, you might find it hard to stand up straight, and you can expect your abdomen to be swollen for a few days. For the first 2 weeks or so, you may have to walk slightly bent at the waist. You should not do any exercise more strenuous than walking during the 4 to 6 weeks following surgery, and should not lift more than 10 pounds for 6 weeks.

Your medical care team will work with you to help relieve pain and help you feel as comfortable as possible. Surface stitches will be removed in 5 to 7 days and deeper sutures will come out in 2 to 3 weeks.

We recommend you arrange for someone to drive you home after your surgery and to help you out at home for a couple of days.

Some people return to work 2 to 3 weeks after the procedure, while others take 3 to 4 weeks to recover. People who are in good physical condition with strong abdominal muscles usually recover more quickly.

In most cases, a balanced diet and regular exercise will help you achieve lasting results. Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or become pregnant, your abdomen generally should remain firm and flat for many years.

Last Spring I had an abdominoplasty surgery with Dr. Ali Salim to correct the distortion to both skin and muscles after pregnancy. I felt very confident in Dr. Salim’s competence and expertise. He answered all my questions patiently and respectfully. He had photos and drawings to help me understand the procedure. His staff was kind and helpful throughout the visits before and after the procedure. He also helped me to understand the importance of exercise to maintain my results. I am very happy with my results. The scaring, less than a year out, is much better than I expected. I’m very grateful to Dr. Salim for his excellent care, and to his team.

Read Patient Testimonials

Are There Any Risks?

As with any surgery, there are risks associated with having a tummy tuck. They include bleeding, infection, scars, asymmetry, rippling of the skin, tissue loss, and decreased sensation of the abdominal skin. At Kaiser Permanente, we believe you should understand all that’s involved in your surgery and have realistic expectations. Your surgeon will take the time you need to discuss the potential risks as well as postoperative care.

I’m Interested! What’s My Next Step?

If you’d like to learn more about tummy tuck surgery and whether or not you’re a good candidate, request a consultation with Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services.

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