What Is a Tummy Tuck?

Abdominoplasty, also known as tummy tuck surgery, is a procedure that removes excess skin and fatty tissue from the front of the abdominal wall. The procedure often includes tightening the muscle layers of the abdominal wall, as well. By addressing all three layers of the abdominal wall, a tummy tuck can dramatically improve the appearance and function of the trunk.

For more comprehensive information about the procedure, feel free to read the sections below or visit our tummy tuck website at tummytuckrichmond.com.

Who Is a Candidate for Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Abdominoplasty is particularly helpful to:

  • Women who have had one or more pregnancies that have stretched their abdominal wall muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal, even with diet and exercise.
  • Men and women who have undergone massive weight loss, which has resulted in deflation of the skin of the trunk and extremities. Large areas of excess skin can result around the trunk, abdomen, thighs, and arms.

How Is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

The full abdominoplasty procedure takes approximately 2 to 3 hours depending on the extent of the procedure. If liposuction is performed in conjunction with abdominoplasty, this will add more time to the length of the procedure. Dr. Neil J. Zemmel makes every effort to place the incision in the most hidden areas possible. For a full abdominoplasty, the incision will be placed on your lower abdomen just above the pubic area. This location will likely allow the scar to be hidden under a bikini bottom or under revealing underwear in many patients. The tummy tuck incision will be placed below any prior c-section scar so the c-section scar will be removed.

The skin is then lifted from the upper abdomen to expose the muscles underneath. This will display the vertical muscles of your abdominal wall, called the rectus abdominis muscles. Your surgeon will then tighten your abdominal wall by pulling the muscles close together and stitching them into a new position. This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline. The remaining muscles of the abdominal wall and any oblique laxity will also be tightened.

The skin is then pulled down snuggly, and all loose tissue is removed. Another incision is made around the umbilicus (belly button) to free it from the surrounding tissue. The belly button is brought out through a new opening at its prior position. Your new belly button will be vertically oriented, rounded, and lie in a slight depression on the front of your abdomen. Your navel will be tailored to ensure a natural appearance, and it can even be pierced. The incisions are then closed with absorbable sutures, and dressings will be applied. One or two small drain tubes are inserted under the skin to remove excess fluid from the surgical site. Your surgeon will remove them 5 to 7 days after surgery in the office. You will receive local anesthesia for drain removal to minimize discomfort.

An abdominal compression binder will be placed for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery. This is a thick VELCRO® abdominal binder that is designed to give you uniform support across your abdomen during your recovery period. It fits like a corset under clothing and is washable. Our team will place you in the binder during surgery and give you detailed instructions on its use.

Tummy Tuck Diagram

Our surgeon will make every attempt at placing the incision in an area under the bikini line for women or under a normal bathing suit for men, so it is well hidden even while wearing revealing clothing.

Patient Results

What Is a Mini Tummy Tuck?

Occasionally some men and women are candidates for the mini-abdominoplasty, also known as a mini tummy tuck. This procedure requires a smaller incision very similar to a c-section incision low on the abdominal wall. A mini-abdominoplasty takes approximately one to two hours in surgery. During the procedure, the skin is lifted only up to the navel area, and the rectus abdominus muscle is tightened up to this level. The skin is then pulled down snuggly and excess tissue is removed. The umbilicus (navel) remains in the same position and is unaltered. The incision is located on the lower abdomen just above the pubic area or is placed just below any prior c-section scar.

Typically, the incision length for a mini-abdominoplasty is shorter than a full abdominoplasty and is very easily hidden under a bikini bottom or revealing underwear. All incisions are closed with absorbable sutures. Usually, one small drain is placed during surgery, which is removed 4 or 5 days post-operatively. Your surgeon will determine whether a full abdominoplasty or a mini-abdominoplasty will yield the best results for you.

What Can I Expect After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

For the first few days after your tummy tuck, your abdomen will probably be swollen, and you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort, which can be controlled by medication. Your surgeon will prescribe several medications to minimize post-operative discomfort. These will include a pain medication such as Percocet, a muscle relaxant like Valium, an antibiotic, and an anti-nausea medicine. Patients who undergo smaller, less invasive procedures typically go home the same day of surgery.

Patients who undergo abdominoplasty or a combination of procedures, such as in the comprehensive mommy makeover, will stay overnight in the hospital. Dr. Zemmel admits all tummy tuck and combination body contouring patients overnight to the hospital. He will ensure that your pain is well-controlled with both IV and oral medications. You will have IV nausea medicine, if needed, and you will receive IV fluids overnight. Keeping you hydrated immediately after surgery is an important part of your initial recovery. A team of nurses will monitor you throughout the night. You will then be seen in the morning by your surgeon and discharged home when ready. Your first follow-up appointment will be 5 or 6 days after going home.

Your surgeon will give you full instructions for showering and changing your dressings. Although you may not be able to stand up straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible to help facilitate healing. Your abdomen will begin to relax after several days, at which time you should be able to stand up straight.

Most sutures used to close the incisions are absorbable, and only a few small ones will be removed 5 to 7 days after surgery. All body contouring patients will then wear a light compression garment after surgery for 3 to 4 weeks’ time.

Through strict standards, we develop a comprehensive treatment plan with you, ensuring a smooth surgical experience and providing the results you desire and deserve.

What Is the Recovery Time for Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Most of the initial healing from tummy tuck surgery will occur in the first 4 to 6 weeks, but you will continue to see an evolution of your results even 6 to 12 months after surgery. Keep in mind that recovery is your body’s response to surgery and healing—it is a process and is not an overnight phenomenon. Most patients who undergo tummy tuck surgery or another body contouring procedure may need several weeks to feel normal again. During this period, the incision areas are strengthening, swelling subsides, and bruising fades. If you go into surgery in top physical condition with strong abdominal muscles, recovery from abdominoplasty will be much faster. Some patients return to work about one week after their tummy tuck, while others need 2 or 3 weeks to rest and recuperate.

What Risks Are Associated with Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Tummy tuck surgery is considered a safe procedure when performed by a qualified, board-certified plastic surgeon, but as with any surgery, it does come with risks. Possible complications that can occur after a tummy tuck include bleeding, swelling, pain, seroma, and infection. Dr. Zemmel takes every precaution to ensure your safety during and after the tummy tuck procedure. Although he has an extremely low complication rate, Dr. Zemmel performs all surgeries in the hospital setting, allowing him the resources to address any rare complications, should they occur.
Our team will provide you with detailed post-operative care instructions to help you navigate the recovery period. It is important that you follow these instructions properly, as they can reduce your risk of developing health issues during the healing process. Your surgeon will go over all of the risks associated with your tummy tuck prior to your surgery date. If you have any questions or concerns before or after your procedure, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.

How Soon Can I Exercise After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Light exercise is typically advised 2 to 3 weeks after tummy tuck surgery. This should help you heal better. Even people who have never exercised before should begin an exercise program to reduce swelling, lower the chance of blood clots, and tone muscles. Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided until you can do it comfortably. Your surgeon will advise you on the time and intensity of exercise.

What Happens If I Get Pregnant After A Tummy Tuck?

Pregnancy after tummy tuck surgery can compromise the aesthetic results of your procedure, which is why our surgeon recommends patients wait until after they have completed their family to seek the procedure. However, undergoing a tummy tuck should not affect a woman’s ability to get pregnant in the future. Should a patient wish to restore their original tummy tuck results after becoming pregnant, your surgeon may recommend a secondary procedure at least six months after completing their pregnancy and breastfeeding journey.

What Will My Tummy Tuck Scars Look Like?

Your scars from tummy tuck surgery will initially be slightly raised and red, and they may widen. Over 6 to 12 months’ time, the scars should soften and fade dramatically. At 18 to 24 months’ time, many patients are only left with a fine, soft, white line. While scars never disappear completely, scars from abdominoplasty will not show under most clothing, even under bathing suits.

How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?

The average cost of tummy tuck surgery in Richmond, Virginia is $10,000-12,000, while a mini tummy tuck is approximately $9,000-10,000. These ranges include the surgeon’s fee and additional costs such as the surgical facility and anesthesia. If liposuction of the flanks is performed along with a tummy tuck, you can expect to pay about $12,000-15,000. A posterior or extended tummy tuck, on the other hand, typically costs $16,000-18.000.

Your cost will depend upon the specifics of your procedure, including the complexity of your surgery. A personalized quote will be provided to you during your consultation, after your surgeon has had the opportunity to evaluate your needs and create your custom surgical plan. Plastic surgery financing options are available if you would like to break your total tummy tuck cost into smaller, more manageably monthly payments.

What Alternatives Are There to Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Patients with excess skin and stretched abdominal muscles are typically ideal candidates for tummy tuck surgery. While there is not an effective non-surgical alternative to address these concerns, excess fat cells affecting the midsection can be addressed through other methods. Liposuction, which is often combined with a tummy tuck, may be appropriate for some individuals with good skin elasticity. For those seeking a non-surgical method of reducing stubborn fat around the abdomen, Dr. Zemmel offers the innovative CoolSculpting® procedure, which utilized controlled cooling to destroy targeted fat cells for a more contoured body shape.

Dr. Zemmel is hands down the best doctor in Richmond! He is the kindest most compassionate man with amazing skill to match! Everyone at his office is wonderful!

Andrea Feits

January 16, 2018