Can I have liposuction instead of a tummy tuck?
It depends. If your pouch came about after multiple pregnancies, chances are that liposuction won’t do you any good. Liposuction takes away excess fat, but it doesn’t do anything for stretched out skin and split abdominal muscles (diastasis recti), which are the two most common problems after having children. However, this answer is not true for every woman, especially those who have only had one child, so make sure you ask your plastic surgeon which procedure he or she recommends. Liposuction and abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) have very different recovery periods, risks, and costs, but they also have very different results, so make sure that you understand which procedure is appropriate for you.
How long does a tummy tuck take?
A standard tummy tuck takes about 2-3 hours depending on how much tissue needs to be removed, and whether or not your abdominal muscles need to be repaired. It could take longer if you have any C-section hernias that need to be repaired at the same time.
What does a tummy tuck scar look like?
A tummy tuck scar curves down from one hip bone across the front of the lower abdomen to the other hip bone. A good surgeon will keep the scar low enough that it will usually be covered by your panties or bathing suit, so make sure you discuss this during your consultation. Having a tummy tuck is a trade-off… you will have a flat tummy for sure, but you will also have a permanent scar. There is no way to perform a tummy tuck without a scar, so don’t waste your time or energy researching “scarless” procedures. Liposuction is the only alternative that would give you a smaller scar, but if you’ve been pregnant, chances are that liposuction won’t give you the results you’re after. Even though the scar is long, it fades to a very thin, and very inconspicuous, line after it’s fully healed.
How much does a tummy tuck hurt?
It depends on how extensive the procedure is. If you’ve only had one baby, your abdominal muscles may still be in the center of your tummy where they are supposed to be. If this is the case, your surgeon won’t have to repair them, and you’ll have a lot less pain. Most of the time, however, the abdominal muscles do get separated during pregnancy, so it’s usually a necessary part of the operation. The more stitches your surgeon has to use to repair your muscles, and the tighter he makes them, the more soreness you’ll have after the procedure. If he has to repair a hernia as well, there’s a chance that you may need to stay in the hospital overnight to get some of the really good pain medicine through an IV, but this situation is very rare. Usually, you’ll feel like you’ve had the toughest ab workout of your life, and you’ll be fine at home with a prescription for some good pain pills for about a week or so.
How long until I can stand up straight after a tummy tuck?
The first thing you’ll notice after your surgery is that your tummy feels too tight to stand up straight. You’ll have to walk around like a little old lady for about a week until everything stretches a little, so be patient and give it time. Don’t force yourself to stand up straight… let your body guide you. Some of you will be standing straight in 3 days, and other will take 10-14 days to walk tall again.
Will I have drains after my tummy tuck?
Unfortunately, yes. Drains are a necessary part of tummy tuck surgery. There are some newer techniques available that claim to obviate the need for drains, but for the most part these techniques are still experimental. Without drains, the extra fluid from the surgery will accumulate in your nice tight tummy, and your surgeon will have to poke you with a big needle to get it out. Fluid that collects like this is called a seroma, and it’s a real nuisance to deal with if it happens… this is why drains are necessary. Drains usually stay in for 1-2 weeks depending on how much fluid comes out, and although they do require some extra care and attention on your part, they are much less trouble than dealing with a seroma.
Do I have to wear a garment after my tummy tuck?
Only if you have liposuction at the same time. Most surgeons will perform some liposuction on your sides at the same time as a tummy tuck to flatten things out just a bit more, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to wear a garment. A garment will only help if you have major liposuction that involves a large area(s) like both of your flanks, your thighs, or your back. If you have this much liposuction with your tummy tuck, a compression garment is definitely necessary for 4-6 weeks after the procedure.
How long do I need to take off work after my tummy tuck?
It depends on what you do for a living. If you sit a desk all day, you can probably go back to work in 10-14 days. If you have a job where you are on your feet a lot, or if you are required to lift anything heavier than a phone book, you will need 3-4 weeks off work. The restriction on lifting is an important one that you have to remember for your home life too. If you have other children, or pets, you will not be able to pick them up or carry them for a full 6 weeks. If you don’t follow the rules, you run the risk of popping some stitches on the inside and ruining your new tight tummy. If you can’t afford to take a full month off of work, find out if you are a candidate for a Rapid Recovery Tummy Tuck by clicking here!
When can I go back to the gym after my tummy tuck?
You can start back at the gym with light cardio workouts (stairmaster, elliptical trainer, treadmill, etc) after 2 weeks, and gradually advance your level of exertion over the following 2 weeks. You shouldn’t perform and resistance training (machines or free weights), or abdominal exercises, until 6 weeks after your surgery.
Can I have a tummy tuck if I smoke?
Absolutely not! You shouldn’t have any cosmetic surgery if you smoke, but especially not a tummy tuck! Smoking dramatically increases your risk of complications like open wounds, DVT’s (clots in the legs), PE’s (pulmonary embolus), and infection. Don’t fib to your surgeon either… you’ll only be putting yourself in harms way. Stop smoking for at least 4 weeks before having a consultation so you can be safe, safe, safe!
Nicholas Vendemia, M.D.
Plastic Surgeon, New York City
MAS | Manhattan Aesthetic Surgery
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Photo Credit: ManhattanAestheticSurgery.com
NOTICE: None of the celebrities or individuals discussed here have ever received treatment, surgery, medical advice, or evaluations from any author, physician, surgeon, or representative of this blog. All images and photos in this article represent models only. No actual patients or clients are shown.