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Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is the operative procedure that creates a flatter stomach and smaller waist by reversing the changes caused by childbearing, weight loss, aging, or from an inherited tendency. Excess fat is contoured, and loose, wrinkled skin around the midsection of the body is trimmed. The underlying stretched muscles of the abdomen can also be tightened.

For some, the weight of excess skin and fat around the middle of the body can cause back or posture problems. 

Rarely will dieting and exercise alone fully restore the abdominal wall to its desirable shape and appearance after the muscles and skin have been stretched to their limits.

A tummy tuck is frequently performed in conjunction with other procedures during a Mommy Makeover and can eliminate a significant number of stretch marks from the midsection.

Dr. Robert Singer is a world-renowned surgeon with many years of experience performing successful tummy tuck procedures for his patients in La Jolla, California.

For more information about tummy tuck surgery in La Jolla and San Diego, contact us or call Dr. Singer at 858.455.0290

Who Needs Abdominoplasty?

There is no “normal” age or time in one’s life to have an abdominoplasty, but it is most often done after a woman has given birth and does not plan to have more children or after a man or woman has lost all the weight he or she intends to lose.

An abdominoplasty is not a weight loss surgery. Patients should not undergo abdominoplasty to lose weight. Rather, they should have already lost the weight through diet, exercise, or weight loss surgery and desire to improve the contour of their midsection through a tummy tuck. If you intend to lose a lot of weight, wait until after your weight loss when you are within 10-15 pounds of your desired weight before you undergo a tummy tuck.

Pregnancy following tummy tuck surgery is possible and is not dangerous, but if you plan on future pregnancies, you should wait to have surgery until you are finished having children, since pregnancy will stretch out the skin and abdominal muscles again, usually undoing the repairs that were achieved with the abdominoplasty.

Your Tummy Tuck Consultation

If you have a lot of loose skin and significant muscle weakness, you may benefit from a full tummy tuck. It will remove the excess skin and fatty tissue, as well as contour the shape of your abdomen by tightening the covering of your abdominal muscles. If your excess skin and fat, as well as your abdominal muscle weakness, is minimal or moderate, a mini tummy tuck or modified tummy tuck may be sufficient. The best way to find out which procedure is right for you is to have a full examination and consultation with Dr. Singer.

During your consultation, he will tell you if liposuction or non-surgical options are sufficient to achieve your goals. Liposuction is ideal to contour the abdomen if you have good skin tone, tight muscles, and excess fat that is resistant to diet and exercise. It does not address the muscles or excess skin.

The Abdominoplasty Procedure

The length of your tummy tuck depends on the technique and your anatomy, but the surgery typically takes 2-3 hours.

There are a variety of surgical procedures or combinations that can produce good results in patients with abdominal laxity, depending on multiple factors, including anatomy and the degree of desired improvement. The extent of the improvement will depend on the type of procedure performed. 

Each type of tummy tuck can be performed with or without liposuction to contour excess fatty tissue:

This technique allows for the greatest amount of tightening of the muscles and skin of the abdomen. A full tummy tuck addresses the 3 defective components (skin, fat, and muscle), so it benefits most patients who want the greatest improvement possible. The results, especially when combined with liposuction of the flanks and hips, can be dramatic.
An incision is usually placed below the bikini line, just above the pubic area. Every effort is made to hide the scars in the bikini area. The length depends on the extent of skin laxity and may go from hip to hip, although the shortest incision is used to achieve the desired outcome.

A second incision is made around the belly button. The skin and fat are separated from the abdominal wall and lifted, exposing the rectus muscle’s fascia, the sheath that covers the muscle and functions as an internal natural girdle. The fascia is then sutured in order to tighten loose or stretched out muscles, and excess skin and fat are removed. A new opening is made in the skin for the belly button, which is kept in its pre-operative position. The incisions are then closed, and a dressing is placed on the abdomen.

Liposuction to remove excess fat from areas of the abdomen, hips, and flanks is often performed in conjunction with the tummy tuck to further enhance the cosmetic result.

A mini tummy tuck or partial abdominoplasty is best suited for patients who have a bulge below the belly button but do not have significant stretch marks, an excess of saggy skin, or loose skin above the belly button. A mini tummy tuck leaves the belly button intact and requires a smaller incision similar to that of a C-section (6-8 inches).
The excess skin and fat are removed and the muscles tightened. Liposuction is performed to remove excess fat.

Other Tummy Tuck Techniques

The muscles on the whole abdomen are tightened without tightening the skin as much as in a standard abdominoplasty. The incision is usually smaller than in a full tummy tuck.

The scar runs from behind the back of the hipbone around the front and to the back of the hipbone on the other side. This allows for tightening of the abdominal muscles, the abdominal skin, and the flank and lateral thigh.

(Also called a Body Lift or Belt Lipectomy), the scar runs all the way around the torso. It does everything an extended abdominoplasty does, but includes a Buttock Lift.

A procedure that removes skin and fat from the abdomen but does not tighten the muscles. It is indicated for slender women who have wrinkly or excess skin and for women or men with good muscle tone following massive weight loss. The scar is usually the same as in a full tummy tuck or a mini, depending on the extent of the laxity of the tissue.

Involves a scar placed at the fold beneath the breast and continuing across the midline in an inverted “V.” The excess tissue is pulled up rather than down and removed. This operation only makes sense for patients who have a tight and fairly smooth lower abdomen with lax skin above the belly button.

Combines an incision across the lower abdomen with a vertical incision up the center of the abdomen. It is usually reserved for people who have undergone massive weight loss and need substantial amounts of skin removed, as well as a lot of tightening around the waist.

Before & After Photos

Interested in a Tummy Tuck?
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Anesthesia at our Accredited Operating Facility

At our AAAASF-accredited (American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities) private operating facility in La Jolla, you will be taken care of by thoroughly trained personnel, including carefully selected, experienced, board-certified physician anesthesiologists.

Often, a tummy tuck can be performed as an outpatient procedure in the operating room at our Singer Surgical Centre. Depending on the extent of the procedure and individual circumstances, Dr. Singer may wish to have you transferred after surgery to the adjacent Scripps Memorial Hospital – La Jolla for a planned overnight stay. If more extensive correction is necessary, the operation may be performed in the hospital.

Recovery from Abdominoplasty

Patients will notice a dramatic improvement in the contours of their abdomen immediately after surgery. As swelling subsides over the next several weeks, the results of an abdominoplasty will gradually improve. Subtle further improvements will continue for 6 months to a year following a tummy tuck.

Since everyone has a different tolerance of pain, the extent of pain with an abdominoplasty is quite variable. For most patients, the pain is not severe, may last several days, and is usually well-controlled with a prescription pain medication during this time. Most patients are ready to return to work and resume their daily activities within 1–2 weeks.

Some swelling and bruising are normal, but the amount varies from person to person. You are usually able to walk the first day after a tummy tuck, and you will be encouraged to do so. 

You should take a short walk 3-4 times a day for a few minutes each time. You will most likely not be able to stand completely straight and may be a bit hunched over for several days.

The skin of your abdomen may feel tight. If drains have been inserted, they are usually removed 4-10 days after tummy tuck surgery, and you will be given detailed instructions as to how to care for them. You will wear an abdominal pressure garment for 3 weeks after your surgery to aid in the healing.

You can gradually return to limited exercise after 3 weeks with no impact or weight activities until 4-6 weeks after the operation.

With a healthy lifestyle consisting of regular exercise, a healthy diet, no significant weight gain, and no further pregnancies, the results achieved from an abdominoplasty should remain.

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Frequently Asked Questions

A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is the operative procedure that reverses the changes caused by childbearing, weight loss or aging by contouring excess fat, removing the loose wrinkled skin, and usually tightening the stretched underlying muscles of the abdomen resulting in a flatter stomach and an improved waist.

Unfortunately, exercise cannot tighten this loose skin.  Although exercise is good for the mind and body, can tone muscles and increase metabolism assisting in weight loss it cannot tighten loose abdominal skin.  To date, only surgery can reliably accomplish that.

A mini tummy tuck procedure does not affect the “love handle” area. However, there
are other procedures that can be recommended for treatment, for example: liposuction or
extended tummy tuck.

It depends on your anatomy, extent of the procedure, and what other procedures that may
be performed, but an abdominoplasty typically takes between two to three hours.

With a healthy lifestyle consisting of regular exercise, a healthy diet, no significant weight gain, and no further pregnancies the results achieved from an abdominoplasty should remain. Significant weight gain or pregnancy could cause the abdominal muscles to stretch apart again, and reverse the results of the initial procedure. Patients should remember that cosmetic surgery is not a permanent fix, and the body will continue to age with some some relaxation of the tissues. It is important to follow all of the instructions, since you are a participant in your own care and be honest with your Doctor.

An abdominoplasty is not a weight loss surgery. Patients should not undergo abdominoplasty to lose weight. Rather, they should have already lost the weight through diet, exercise, or weight loss surgery and desire to improve the contour of their midsection.

Patients will notice a dramatic improvement in the contours of their abdomen immediately after surgery. As swelling subsides over the next several weeks, the results of an abdominoplasty will gradually improve. Subtle further improvements will continue for 6 months to a year following a tummy tuck.

Since everyone has a different appreciation of pain, the extent of pain with an abdominoplasty is quite variable. For most patients, the pain is not severe, may last several days, and is usually well-controlled with a prescription pain medication during this time. Most patients are ready to return to work and resume their daily activities within 1–2 weeks.

Some swelling and bruising are normal, but the amount varies from person to person. Recovery from tummy tuck surgery will vary depending on the person and the extent of the surgery. You are usually able to walk the first day after abdominoplasty surgery and you will be encouraged to do so. You should take a short walk three or four times a day for a few minutes each time. You will most likely not be able to stand completely straight and you may be a bit hunched over for several days. The skin of your abdomen may feel tight. If drains have been inserted, they are usually removed 4-10 days after tummy tuck surgery. You should take it easy for at least 2 weeks after surgery. You will wear an abdominal pressure garment for 3 weeks after your surgery to aid in the healing.

It is actually fairly common to combine a tummy tuck with some sort of breast enhancement operation. This combination is frequently referred to as a “Mommy Makeover”. Children predictably affect both the breasts and abdomen, so it makes sense that women considering abdominal improvement would also desire breast enhancement. Any of the breast operations (Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift, or Breast Reduction) can be combined with a tummy tuck.

The scar resulting from tummy tuck surgery usually runs from hip to hip. However, the incision is made low on the stomach and is usually easily covered by undergarments and bikini bottoms. The scar will fade over time. In patients with greater skin laxity, an additional small incision around the navel may be necessary. The position and length of the incisions depends on the amount of excess skin to be removed and your individual anatomy, while the appearance of the scar depends on how you heal as an individual as well as the surgeon. Much of healing is genetically determined. The scar is usually preferable to the appearance of a sagging abdomen.

It depends on the extent of the surgical correction, varying from 1 1/2 to 3 hours.

Pregnancy following tummy tuck surgery is possible and is not dangerous, but if you plan on future pregnancies, you should wait to have surgery until you are done having children, since pregnancy will stretch out the skin and abdominal muscles again, usually undoing the repairs that were achieved with the abdominoplasty.

If you intend to lose a lot of weight, wait until after your weight loss and you are within 10-15 pounds of your desired weight before you undergo an abdominoplasty.

Liposuction is ideal to contour the abdomen for those who have good skin tone, tight muscle and excess fat that is resistant to diet and exercise. It does not address the muscle, minimally tightens the skin (no matter which type of liposuction), and removes no excess skin.. If skin tone is poor with laxity and stretch marks, the results of liposuction alone will usually be disappointing. The tummy tuck is a better procedure for women who have lost the contour of their abdomen following pregnancy and for men and women following significant weight loss, since it addresses the three areas: skin, fat and muscle.

Related Body Surgery Procedures

Liposuction

Mommy
Makeover

Thigh
Lift

Why Choose Dr. Singer?

Dr. Singer has the respect of his peers and patients across San Diego and the surrounding Southern California area. He has helped thousands of San Diego residents with an eye for balance and beauty and the skills of an artist. Dr. Singer has been engaged in private practice in the La Jolla area of San Diego since 1976 and is now an internationally recognized plastic surgeon. You are in the best of hands with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon (American Board of Plastic Surgery) Dr. Singer.

Please learn more about Dr. Singer’s affiliations, memberships, awards, honors, and accomplishments. The full list and Dr. Singer’s curriculum vitae are available upon request.

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