Tummy Tuck Frequently Asked Questions

Published on March 9, 2019

If you’re considering  a tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, your research may have created more questions than answers. During a consultation, our board-certified plastic surgeons help patients sort through and understand the information they’ve found from other sources and answer their questions. Although a personal consultation is the only way to get accurate information that is specific to you, here is a list of the most commonly asked questions about a tummy tuck:

What is tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck is a procedure in plastic surgery that removes excess skin and tissue from the abdominal area and tightens the underlying loose or separated muscles to create a firmer and more contoured abdomen.

Will an abdominoplasty help reduce body weight?
While abdominoplasty is not a weight reduction procedure, some patients will see a slight loss in weight due to the removal of excess tissue and skin. Many candidates for this plastic surgery are patients who have previously been through a significant weight loss and opt for tummy tuck to remove excess skin and achieve a tighter, smoother contour.  It is best for tummy tuck candidates to be at a stable weight before surgery.

Is it possible to flatten the tummy with exercise?
If the abdominal skin has become loose and/or the abdominal muscles are separated, exercise will not help reverse these effects.

Can it be performed together with other procedures?
Yes, often times plastic surgeons may perform a tummy tuck in conjunction with a breast surgery, liposuction or other lifting procedures like an arm lift.

How long does a tummy tuck incision have to be?
It’s always best to choose the options that’s going to give you the best overall result as opposed to the shortest incision. Going with a shorter incision is not recommended and can result in a less than desirable outcome.  However, a qualified plastic surgeon will be able to place the incision so that it is hidden by most bathing suits.

How much pain can I expect after a tummy tuck with muscle repair?
As every patient’s procedure is different and every patient’s pain tolerance is different, this can vary greatly.  Immediately after surgery, patients will be very sore and pain medication should be taken as prescribed. The second week is better but patients will still experience some discomfort with certain movements and many patients still use pain medication at this time. By the third week, most patients are off pain medication and mostly able to take care of themselves.

What is a mini tummy tuck?
A mini tummy tuck is not based on the length of the incision, but rather by the amount of repair that is needed.  A patient that does not need any rejuvenation of the abdomen above the belly button may be a good candidate for a mini tummy tuck.

Is a drain always used with a tummy tuck?  I’ve read about “drainless” tummy tucks.
While some plastic surgeons tout a “drainless tummy tuck”, it is really more of a marketing gimmick than good medicine.  The development of tissue glue is a wonderful advancement, but when used without a drain, the incidence of complications like seroma (the collection of fluid at the surgical site) is dramatically increased. Our plastic surgeons use drains, sometimes in conjunction with tissue glue. While a drain a can be inconvenient, it really is the best option.  

How long does the drain stay in?
The length of time the drain needs to stay in depends on each patient.  The drain is there to collect blood and fluids from the surgery site so as the amount of fluid decreases, the drain(s)  can be removed.

Is it possible to have a second tummy tuck after children?
A tummy tuck can be performed again with removal of excess skin, tightening of the abdominal wall and liposuction of any excess fat. However, we recommend that it is best for women to be done having children before undergoing a tummy tuck.

What can I do to improve the chance of healing after a tummy tuck?
The best thing you can do to improve your healing after a tummy tuck is to take care of yourself.  Not smoking is a key factor in good healing. If you smoke, you need to STOP at least six weeks before surgery.  In addition, get plenty of rest, eat well, stay hydrated and follow the doctor’s instructions. At Gulf Coast Plastic Surgery, we provide all of our patients with a scar recovery gel/treatment plan to help make sure the resulting scar heals well.

How long is recovery after a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck recovery is a process, the length of the recovery time after a tummy tuck depends on what type of tummy tuck is performed.  Two to six weeks is the average amount of time someone should plan to be limited in day-to-day activities. However, some patients do take longer to reach the same recovery comfort level as other patients.

If you’ve been considering a tummy tuck or you have questions you’d like answered, schedule a consultation with one of our award-winning, board-certified plastic surgeons, Dr. Peter Butler or Dr. Jocelyn Leveque.

Gulf Coast Plastic Surgery is the only plastic surgery office in the area offering Canfield Vectra 3-D Imaging and Breast Sculptor software.