Studio shot of a fit young woman standing with her hands on her hips against a dark background

Everyone wants a flat stomach. A whole industry of gadgets touted on late-night infomercials has arisen promising to deliver a flat abdomen or six-pack abs. Alas, most of us have some degree of a pooch on our lower abdomen. And if you’ve had children or have gained and then lost a good deal of weight, the stretched skin and separated muscles can’t tighten back down no matter what you do.

That’s where tummy tuck surgery with Dr. Citron can come in. A tummy tuck removes the sagging skin and gives you that flat, contoured abdomen.

What is a tummy tuck?

Clinically known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck removes loose, sagging skin from the belly button down to the upper pubic area. In most cases, stomach muscles that have become separated are brought back to the center and reattached. Pockets of fat are also usually removed with targeted liposuction. The belly button is usually moved to a higher position.

What are the different options for a tummy tuck?

There are three types of tummy tucks: full, mini, and extended. Here are the differences between them:

  • Full tummy tuck — In a full tummy tuck, Dr. Citron makes two incisions. The first runs from hipbone to hipbone, descending down to the upper pubic area so the scar is easily hidden under underwear or a swimsuit. The second incision is made around the belly button to address sagging above the navel.
  • Mini tummy tuck — A mini tuck usually only requires the single lower incision. The length of this incision varies depending on the degree of loose skin. Mini tummy tucks are good for patients with less overall sagging who still have a small pooch in the center of their lower abdomen. These patients still need to have good elasticity in this skin.
  • Extended tummy tuck — An extended tummy tuck also targets the flanks. It basically is a full tummy tuck, but the lower incision stretches past the hipbones all the way out to the sides of the hips. This incision can even slightly advance around the side of the flanks to the back.

How is a tummy tuck performed?

The basics of a tummy tuck are the same. The differences are the additional incision with a full tuck, and the extended lower incision with an extended tuck. Dr. Citron makes the first incision from hipbone to hipbone, descending as described above. He then separates the skin from the underlying muscle. The abdominal muscles are pulled together and stitched into place to make the abdomen firmer and to narrow the waist. At this point, Dr. Citron usually includes some liposuction to remove fat pockets. The final step is to pull the skin downward, trim excess skin, and move the navel to a natural position where it is reattached.

In a mini tummy tuck, only a single incision is made. The length of the incision may be shorter, depending upon the patient’s needs. For an extended tuck, the lower incision is continued around the flanks to a position on the back.

How does a tummy tuck differ from liposuction?

Tummy tucks are about sagging skin; liposuction is about removing unwanted pockets of fat. If a person has loose sagging skin and has liposuction performed, the removal of the fat will only create more sagging. That’s why a tummy tuck is needed. A tummy tuck removes the excess, sagging skin. Plus, it tightens separated stomach muscles. Liposuction may be added to a tummy tuck.

Liposuction does nothing for loose, inelastic skin. It simply removes fat cells.

Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?

Woman's hand pinching excess skin on abdomenIf you still have good elasticity in your abdominal skin and your issues are primarily pockets of unwanted fat that you can’t get rid of through exercise of dietary changes, a tummy tuck isn’t the right procedure — you want liposuction.

But if you have loose, inelastic skin, with some pockets of fat, a tummy tuck is the better option (probably combined with light liposuction to remove some areas of the fat). Pregnancy is especially hard on the abdominal muscles because of the way it focuses the weight gain in such a small, localized area. This can permanently stretch and separate the abdominal muscles and they won’t return to their former degree of tautness without surgery. Excessive weight gain and subsequent loss can create the same issues.

One important note about having a tummy tuck — if you think you may want to have additional children, your tummy tuck will have to wait. The effects of pregnancy will negate the results of your tummy tuck. Also, people who plan on losing additional weight should delay their tummy tuck because the additional weight loss will create more loose skin. It’s important to remember that abdominoplasty is a body-contouring procedure, not a weight-loss procedure.

Will I have scarring after a tummy tuck?

Tummy tucks create a long incision scar — it’s unavoidable. But Dr. Citron descends the incision running from hipbone to hipbone so that it can be hidden beneath a bikini bottom or underwear. As a board-certified plastic surgeon with over 25 years of surgical experience, Dr. Citron works to ensure your incision heals as cleanly and evenly as possible. If you don’t place stress on your incision during your recovery, the scar will begin to quickly fade. It will be there, but its appearance will diminish with time.

What is recovery like after a tummy tuck?

This recovery isn’t a piece of cake, due to the lengths of the incisions and moving and repairing the abdominal muscles. There will be some pain, but the amount varies by the individual. You’ll be encouraged to walk after your surgery and should take a short walk three or four times a day for just a few minutes each time. You’ll have to walk a little hunched over and the skin of your abdomen may feel tight. If you have drains, they will be removed anywhere from four days to two weeks after your surgery. You’ll wear a compression garment to help your skin adapt to its new slimmer contour and to help with swelling.

How soon can I return to normal activity after a tummy tuck?

You’ll be able to walk after your surgery (it’s important to get the healing process started), but this is only for short lengths and you’ll be bent over a bit. In a couple weeks, you’ll be able to get back to work if you have a desk job, and you’ll be able to walk normally by then. Most patients can return to driving in two weeks or so. Dr. Citron will discuss your individual goals for returning to normal activities and exercise. Don’t expect to return to strenuous exercise or any lifting for at least six weeks, however.

Can a tummy tuck be combined with other procedures?

plastic surgeon marking womans body for surgeryplastic surgeon marking womans body for surgery

A tummy tuck is an involved surgery and recovery, so you may want to think twice before looking to combine it with other procedures. Still, should you want to address the effects pregnancy and breastfeeding had on your breasts, you could combine a tummy tuck with either a breast lift or a breast lift with augmentation. When a tummy tuck, breast lift, and liposuction are combined into a single surgical session, it is referred to as a mommy makeover.

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For more information about tummy tuck or to schedule a consultation, call us at 973-243-2300 or contact us today.