an illustration of what a tummy tuck is

What is a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tucks are one of the most popular cosmetic procedures available today. While some people are able to achieve a flat, toned stomach through diet and exercise alone, there are extreme cases where this is not enough. It’s these instances that the tummy tuck was designed especially for. This overview will explain the tummy tuck process, what it’s used for, and its associated risks.

How It Works

A tummy tuck begins with doctors making a horizontal incision between the bellybutton and pubic area, the length of which is determined by the amount of skin to be removed. If this amount is particularly large, a second incision around the bellybutton will also be made. Next the skin is pulled downward towards the pubic area and trimmed. Finally, doctors close the incision with sutures, adhesive, or clips.

What It’s Good For

Tummy tucks are most commonly used after massive weight loss or if multiple pregnancies have left the abdominal area loose and hanging. It improves the appearance of the stomach by giving it a flat, tight look, but there is also a practical element to this surgery. People who have lost large amounts of weight may find that excess abdominal skin causes chafing, which can lead to extreme pain, and in some cases, skin infection.

What It Can’t Do

While a tummy tuck can help improve abdominal appearance after a pregnancy, it’s not for women who plan on getting pregnant again in the future. The patient’s abdominal muscles are tightened during the process, and a pregnancy can cause them to separate, which can lead to severe pain. Additionally, tummy tucks are not a good means of weight loss. The procedure is great for correcting the effects of weight loss, but most doctors recommend that their patients are at least within 10 pounds of their ideal weight before pursuing a tummy tuck.

Its Risks

Like all medical procedures, there are some risks associated with tummy tucks. The most common of these include blood clots, cardiac events such as stroke or heart attack, and infection at the incision site. However, these risks can be greatly reduced if patients follow their doctor’s aftercare instructions closely.

Last Updated: July 31, 2014