Abdominoplasty, frequently referred to as tummy tuck, is a procedure designed to remove excess abdominal skin, tighten the muscles of the abdomen and improve the abdominal profile. This procedure is often done following liposuction performed to remove excess fat, after the skin has naturally maximally tightened. If the abdomen does not have excess fatty deposits, the procedure can be done without a primary liposuction. With the excess fat already removed, tightening the abdomen muscles and extra skin provides the abdomen with a fit, muscular appearance once again for many patients. During this procedure the excessive loose skin of the lower abdomen is removed, and the remaining skin is redraped, stretching it so that the abdomen appears smooth. The belly button is repositioned and low, fatty rolls are eliminated. When the muscles are tightened, the procedure essentially cinches the mid-abdominal area accentuating the waistline. The majority of tummy tucks involve tightening both the skin and muscles but occasionally, only the skin needs to be excised and tightened. This procedure is referred to as a mini-tummy tuck.

An appropriate candidate for abdominoplasty may have loose skin with stretch marks that has not contracted after a significant weight loss or pregnancy. The patient often is unable to tighten the abdominal wall muscles even with exercise. For women, it is best to wait until after childbearing is completed. Cessation of smoking is mandatory prior to and following tummy tuck for proper healing to occur.

Procedure Description

Dr. Hand performs abdominoplasty at our accredited Marin County outpatient surgical facility utilizing general anesthesia. Several variations of abdominoplasty are available depending on the laxity of the skin and integrity of the abdominal muscles. A regular tummy tuck scar usually goes from hip to hip in a crescent pattern that can be hidden under bikini undergarments. During the procedure, most patients will lose the stretch marked skin from the belly button to the top of the pubis. The skin above that area is stretched and brought down to the top of the pubic area. The belly button “stalk” remains intact and a new position for the belly button is created. The abdominal muscles are cinched together from under the breasts to the lower abdomen and the entire surgical wound is meticulously closed so as to leave the thinnest scar possible.

A mini-tummy tuck is a far simpler procedure. The abdominal skin is excised in a smaller side to side pattern, usually not extending as far on the hip. The belly button remains in its normal position, the muscles of the lower third of the abdomen may or may not be tightened and the excess abdominal skin is trimmed, repositioned and sutured.

Recuperation and Healing

After the surgery is complete, a dressing is applied and a compression garment is put on the patient prior to waking. Usually, an abdominal drain will stay in place for 2 to 3 days for regular abdominoplasty patients only. The bed will be flexed to provide less tension on the incision site and for patient comfort. Bed rest is mandatory for the first day except for careful walking to the bathroom. On the second day, small amounts of slow walking in a bent-over position is encouraged. Dr. Hand will examine the surgical area 1 to 2 days following surgery. The abdomen will feel tight but by the end of the week, the patient will be able to walk upright.

Although strenuous activities and exercise should be avoided for 6 weeks, some patients return to work and daily activities as soon as 7 to 10 days after surgery. The compression garment should be worn constantly for 1 week followed by breaks only to launder it or shower for the next 6 weeks. The softening of the surgical scars, return of sensation in the incision areas and loosening of the tight sensation may take several months to evolve. The surgical scars should continue to fade, eventually becoming a thin, pale line.

Alternative Options

Abdominoplasty may be combined with other body sculpting procedures such as lower body lift, mommy makeover, breast rejuvenation or liposuction. View before and after tummy tuck photos to see some of Dr. Hand’s excellent patient results. To help you decide which body contouring variation will provide you with the best results, Marin cosmetic surgeon Dr. Hand can meet with you for an initial consultation at his Greenbrae office. During this time, he can answer any questions or concerns that you may have regarding abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) in Marin.

The doctor you choose for your procedure is a weighing factor on the success of your surgical experience, so it is important that you feel comfortable and confident in Dr. Hand’s expertise. He is:

  • Board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS)
  • A member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS)
  • A member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS)

To schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Hand, a compassionate and professional Northern California plastic surgeon, please call (415) 461-6742 or fill out the patient contact form.