A flat belly and narrow waist are often seen as tokens of fitness and good health. And common knowledge says that with hard work, we can achieve the belly of our dreams. But the truth is, it’s downright impossible for some folks. Some have to contend with a stubborn layer of fat that can’t be removed through dieting or exercise. For others, pregnancy came and went, but loose skin and fat remains.
When all else has failed, a tummy tuck can help. A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) is a surgical procedure that can help you achieve a narrow waist and tight core. And with the right surgeon, a tummy tuck can help you feel proud and confident about your body.
Dr. Josh Waltzman is a board-certified plastic surgeon in Long Beach known for cultivating an outstanding patient experience. He’s a kind, compassionate surgeon who recognizes that a tummy tuck is more than a physical improvement – feeling whole is the ultimate goal of any patient. To that end, he’ll perform your abdominoplasty with the care and attention to detail you deserve.
Who Should Get a Tummy Tuck?
The ideal candidate for an abdominoplasty is someone who is close to their ideal weight but needs a little help refining their figure. Here are a few more characteristics that define the ideal candidate:
- No major untreated diseases
- Wants to remove excess skin on the belly
- Wants to remove stretch marks
- Wants to remove C-section scars and fat hanging over the scars
- Wants to reduce a thick, undefined waist
- Is at a stable, healthy weight
That being said, there are a few other considerations for the tummy tuck:
We recommend that patients wait at least six months after giving birth and breast feeding before undergoing tummy tuck surgery. We want to make sure the patient’s hormones have stabilized and that their tissues have sufficiently healed. The patient’s weight will also need to be stable. Losing weight after an abdominoplasty could result in more loose skin.
Why Get a Tummy Tuck?
Our abdomen is essentially an inner girdle made up of connective tissues and muscles. This girdle, also known as your “core,” holds our internal organs in place. It’s built to grow, especially during pregnancy and weight gain.
Unfortunately, it sometimes doesn’t bounce back. After weight loss or childbirth, the patient develops excess folds of skin, stretch marks, weak abdominal muscles, and fatty deposits.
That’s what a tummy tuck is for; it can address the causes of a large belly and help you attain a flatter, more appealing stomach.
What a Tummy Tuck Can Do
If you’re tired of deep folds of skin and pockets of fat in the belly, a tummy tuck can help. Dr. Waltzman will excise excess skin and sculpt the abdomen by removing skin and fat from the lower abdomen.
A well-defined belly with a narrow waist is sometimes impossible to achieve. A tummy tuck can fix that by removing excess pockets of fat. It can also better highlight the abdominal muscles to create a more athletic look.
During pregnancy, the ligaments attached to the abdominal muscles stretch to make room for a baby. In a condition called diastasis recti, the connective tissues never snap back into place, causing the abdominal muscles to remain loose. Thus, the patient develops a weak core and a protruding stomach.
With a tummy tuck, Dr. Waltzman can tighten that separation between the muscles to flatten the stomach. Tightening the abdominal muscles also restores core strength.
Since the tummy tuck excises a sizeable amount of tissue below the belly button, an abdominoplasty can remove some stretch marks. Of course, it can only target stretch marks that exist below the belly button.
Women who undergo a C-section can sometimes develop excess tissue that hangs over their scar. A tummy tuck may not only smooth and tighten that tissue, but it can also correct the C-section scar.
Goals for Your Abdominoplasty
Dr. Waltzman believes in respecting the patient’s tissues. Rather than forcing a result where it doesn’t work, he tailors the tummy tuck to the patient’s unique anatomy. Dr. Waltzman will consult with the patient on their goals and work to create long-lasting results that are realistically possible.
What a Tummy Tuck Can’t Do
A tummy tuck cannot address other areas like the thighs or the hips. It should also not be thought of as a weight loss procedure.
The tummy tuck is commonly combined with other procedures like liposuction. If the patient wants a more comprehensive procedure or wants to target additional areas along with the abdomen, they can also opt for the following procedures:
- a mommy makeover (a combination procedure for the breast and body)
- breast augmentation
- a breast lift
Tummy Tuck Scars
A tummy tuck will leave a scar slightly above the pubic bone. The scar typically goes from hip to hip, but it depends on how much work on the abdomen needs to be done. The scar can be easily hidden by underwear – even by bikini bottoms in most cases.
Since the belly button needs to be moved in a tummy tuck, an incision needs to be made around the belly button. Of course, the resulting scar will exist around the natural borders of the belly button, so it’ll be nicely hidden and fade with time.
Your Consultation for a Tummy Tuck
Dr. Waltzman achieves his remarkable results by meticulously planning each tummy tuck. The planning process begins during the consultation, where you will be able to meet with Dr. Waltzman himself.
Consultations with Dr. Waltzman are in relaxed and supportive environments. It’s where he’ll answer your questions or concerns about the tummy tuck. Because he wants you to have a complete understanding of what abdominoplasties can or can’t do, he’ll go through every aspect of the procedure in detail. You’ll also have Dr. Waltzman’s full attention and never be rushed through your appointment.
Dr. Waltzman will use the consultation as an opportunity to determine if you’re a candidate for the tummy tuck. You should be prepared to discuss your aesthetic goals, your medical history, and what medications you’re taking. He’ll also perform a thorough exam of your tissues to determine which path to take.
He’ll make his recommendations and discuss the different risks and complications that may occur. He wants the patient to be an active participant in the tummy tuck, so he’ll give you all the tools you need to make an informed decision.
How Is an Abdominoplasty Performed?
Your tummy tuck will be performed either in a hospital where Dr. Waltzman has hospital privileges or at an outpatient surgery center. Abdominoplasties are performed under general anesthesia.
In the first step of the procedure, he’ll make an incision in the area between the belly button and pubic bone. He’ll also make an incision around the bellybutton. Then he’ll lift up the skin from the underlying tissues and remove excess skin and fat. The next step is tightening the muscles, and then moving the belly button to its new position.
After that, we require a trusted family member or friend drive you home following your tummy tuck.
What Is a Tummy Tuck Recovery Like?
Dr. Waltzman will create personalized post-surgery instructions for you to follow. Typically, patients go home on the same day as the surgery, and then spend the first recovery day resting at home. You’ll probably need to take at least a week off from work – but it’ll all depend on how physical your job is.
After the tummy tuck, you will experience some level of bruising, soreness, discomfort, and swelling. You will also feel some numbness at the incision site. All of these symptoms will dissipate over time. Every patient is different, but it can take up to 3 months for swelling to completely resolve.
Your tummy tuck is a chance to remake your figure. It’s a major transformation – so don’t trust anything less than a talented, skilled plastic surgeon like Dr. Waltzman. To learn more about the tummy tuck and what it can do for you, contact Waltzman Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery to schedule a consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Tummy Tuck
Dr. Waltzman will give detailed instructions for how you can best prepare for your tummy tuck. In general, patients are given a list of substances to avoid before their surgery. The list includes common substances such as Vitamin E, garlic, ginger, and fish oil, but it also contains over-the-counter medications such as Tylenol.
Your tummy tuck will take your entire core out of commission, so it’ll be difficult for you to complete basic tasks for the first 1-2 weeks. That’s why we recommend that patients arrange for additional help with chores or childcare for about a week during the recovery.
Your results will be permanent, but keep in mind – your results may be compromised if you gain weight after your tummy tuck. To help maintain your results, Dr. Waltzman suggests sticking with a healthy diet and a regular exercise regimen.
Your tummy tuck recovery should not be painful, but pain is subjective. Different people will have different reactions to the surgery.
By and large, our patients report the recovery as being tolerable. Patients will feel discomfort in the form of soreness and bruising, but that’s why all patients are given prescription medication. Our patients do report that the tummy tuck feels much less uncomfortable than they anticipated, and many of them switch to over-the-counter medication after several days.
You can still liposuction in the front of the abdominal muscles during a traditional abdominoplasty, however, you can not be as aggressive with liposuction in this particular area as other areas.
A muscle repair, or tightening, is performed in the vast majority of procedures.
Your abdominal muscles will not be enlarged or altered with a tummy tuck. The muscle repair, or tightening, does not increase the size of your muscles. If you already have well developed abdominal muscles, then a tummy tuck will help accentuate them because there will less extra skin and fat covering them up.
It is unlikely that your weight will change at all after a tummy tuck. The amount of skin that is removed typically is not enough to make much of a difference on the scale.
Yes, it is often possible to repair a small hernia at the same time as a tummy tuck. If it is a larger hernia, then sometimes the surgery will be performed with a general surgeon who will repair the hernia.
You should be in good overall health prior to a tummy tuck. Your weight should be stable for at least 6 months. It is a good idea to do a little research from reputable sources (surgeon’s website, surgery.org, plasticsurgery.com) before your consultation so you can have some good questions prepared for your surgeon. If you smoke cigarettes you should be aware that you will need to quit at least 4-6 weeks prior to your surgery. It’s also a good idea to bring a friend or family member to your consultation who can help take notes and ask questions.
You will need to fast the day of your surgery (nothing to eat or drink from midnight the night before). When you get to the surgery center you will change into a gown. The nurse will place an IV in your arm to provide fluids. You will meet your entire OR team which includes the Anesthesiologist and the Room Nurse. Next, Dr. Waltzman will talk with you and make his pre-operative markings on your abdomen. You will then be taken back to the OR by your Anesthesiologist. After surgery you will wake up in the recovery room. You will be wearing an abdominal binder. The recovery nurse will be at your side to help keep you comfortable. Usually patient remain in recovery 1-1.5 hours. Once you are ready to go home your ride will be contacted. Post op instructions will be discussed by the nurse. You will need to remain in a flexed position at your waist. Dr. Waltzman will call you at home that evening to check-up on you and answer any questions.
There are two scars from a tummy tuck. One is around the belly button, and one is along the lower abdomen. The length of the lower scar depends on how much extra skin needs to be removed. All scars fade with time, but there will always be a scar. The best way to know how you will scar in the future is how you have scarred in the past. Some patients form thin white scars and other patients will form thicker red scars.
Most patients will have 2 drains after their tummy tuck. They typically stay in 1-2 weeks.
Depending on the technique used, there are usually a few stitches around the belly button that need to be removed at the 1-week mark.
It really depends what you do for work. I recommend at least 2-3 weeks off for most people, but if you have a more physical job then you will need to consider taking 4-6 weeks off work. We also have a lot of patients who can return to work on “light” or “modified” duty.
Swelling varies greatly by patient. Wearing compression garments does help with some of the swelling, but it also takes some time for your body to heal. Swelling typically goes away first in the upper abdomen, followed by the lower abdomen, and finally the pubic area. By about 6 weeks the majority of swelling is gone, but it can take up to 12 weeks to really see the final result.
Complications are similar to other plastic surgery procedures and include bleeding, seroma, infection, and problems with poor scarring. Additionally, compared to other plastic surgery procedures tummy tuck surgery has an increased (although still low) risk of blood clot formation in the legs. On rare occasion this blood clot can travel to the lungs and become a very serious life threatening complication.
Yes, however, you will likely stretch your muscles and skin again. This might require additional procedures in the future if you wish to achieve similar results.
Natural appearance of the belly button, level of the lower abdominal scar, and overall abdominal contour.
A full recovery typically takes about 4-6 weeks.
The answer is yes, but we always have to think about safety first. As long as the total amount of time in the OR is kept at a safe level, then it is usually appropriate to combine multiple procedures.
I usually recommend trying to wait 4 weeks before picking up small children. You can hold your children at any time if you are sitting or lying down.
Your abdomen should feel tight after surgery. As long as you are not performing anything strenuous then it is unlikely that you will hurt something. It is important that you follow your surgeon’s guidelines as far as activity level.
The discomfort from a tummy tuck mostly comes from the muscle plication, or tightening. To help alleviate this pain, Dr. Waltzman injects a medication called Exparel into the muscles and around all of the incisions. This medication provides pain relief for up to 72 hours. You should still expect to feel tight and sore, but this medication will help to decrease your overall discomfort. You will also have access to Tylenol, ibuprofen, and a narcotic medication. Most patients are off of all pain medications by 1-2 weeks.
An incision is made around your belly button, but it is left attached to your body. Once the abdominal skin has been pulled down a new opening is made. Your belly button is then pulled through this new opening and carefully sewn in place. Often times the size is slightly adjusted to fit just right.
On average a tummy tuck costs around $10,000. This includes the consultation, pre-op visit, surgery, OR fees, anesthesia, scar therapy, and all of your post op follow up appointments.
Most patients plan about 4-6 weeks before having a tummy tuck. However, if you have a specific week in mind, then it is always better to schedule as soon as possible.
On average it takes 2-3 hours from the time you leave the pre-op area to the time you arrive in the recovery room.
Yes, it is still your belly button. It is just coming out of a new opening.