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Sometimes simply dieting and exercising are not enough to take care of waistline problems. When you have reached your desired weight but not your desired shape, it may be time to consider a tummy tuck. 


Patients choose this procedure when they are having trouble achieving a flat and toned stomach appearance. It is also helpful in remedying the vertical separation of abdomen muscles known as diastasis, which can occur following pregnancy. After massive weight loss, it can also remove some, if not all, of the stretch marks in the lower abdomen. When combined with extensive liposuction and thigh-lifting, the tummy tuck can completely restore a figure that has lost its shape and tone after multiple deliveries, C-sections, or other surgeries.

Fat deposits that have settled in the hip and thigh areas—like “love handles” and “saddlebags”—often combine with lower abdominal fat to create the infamous “spare tire.” Traditional abdominoplasty incisions stop well short of correcting these problems, and liposuction can help only up to a point.

The newer, more advanced, lateral tension tummy tuck allows for the extensive lifting of the thighs and buttocks, as well as total removal of love handles and the folds of tissue above them. The procedure restores a true waistline and tightens the abdominal muscles. The abdomen can then be sculpted with liposuction to give definition to the muscles.

Tummy tuck patients are among the most thrilled plastic surgery patients. Once again they can wear a bikini or they no longer see skin and fat rolling over their underwear. Removal of fat tissue gives them increased motivation to diet. Some patients report having gone down three to four dress sizes following a tummy tuck.

Mini Tummy Tuck


A mini tummy tuck is ideal for patients who do not have much extra skin or do not need their muscles to be tightened.  Mini tummy tucks only remove the skin below the belly button. They involve shorter scars than full tummy tucks usually and heal much faster. Muscle tightening, when necessary, is restricted to the muscles of the lower abdomen.

Mini tummy tucks are normally combined with Liposuction of the full abdomen for very effective body contouring and work best when there is minimal skin excess above the belly button. The scar from the skin removal is discretely placed in the fold above the pubic area and hip bones; it can often be hidden under small bikini bathing suits or undergarments. In a mini tummy tuck, there is no belly button scar. Love handles can be removed with liposuction as well.

If you are within 10 percent of your ideal weight with no distention of your upper abdomen and don’t have multiple skin folds above your belly button, this may be the way to go.

How it works

In addition to the incision across the lower abdomen, a traditional tummy tuck involves an incision around the navel. Excess skin is removed, muscles are tightened, and liposuction may be used to contour the abdomen. This surgery removes skin from above the navel down to the pubic area that has been affected by pregnancies, genetic laxity or obesity.

If you have excess skin in the love handles or hips, your incision can be made longer to address this problem. The high lateral tension tummy tuck was one of the first procedures developed to address skin excess after significant weight loss or pregnancy. The technique uses a layer in the deeper tissue to support and maintain the repair. This procedure includes a tummy tuck in the front of the abdomen and transfers the lift over the hip to the side of the thigh to improve contour in this area, suspending and improving the hip and thigh. You can simulate the effect by grabbing the skin on the sides of your waist and pulling up as if you’re putting on a pair of pants.

The incision for a full abdominoplasty usually runs from hipbone to hipbone and may be in a V-cut or U-cut shape, so that the scar can be hidden in a bikini. Your surgeon will determine the shape and length of the incision based on your preferences and the amount of correction you need. You may also have an incision around the navel.

With a high lateral tension abdominoplasty, scars are longer and often higher than scars in more traditional abdominoplasties and mini-tummy tucks. It is common not to excise the umbilical (navel) site because not as much skin is removed centrally. 

How long will it take?


Full tummy tucks generally take between 1 and 3 hours and are most often performed under general anesthesia.


Mini Tummy Tucks are done as an outpatient procedure in usually two hours or less, they require much less anesthesia than full tummy tucks, and are very safe.



The patient must practice diet control and maintain an exercise plan. Surgery can be performed once the patient is within ten to fifteen percent of the ideal weight for their height.

  • In advance of your procedure, your surgeon will ask you to:

  • Stop smoking well before undergoing surgery to better promote healing.

  • Avoid taking aspirin, certain anti-inflammatory medications and some herbal medications that can cause increased bleeding.

  • Regardless of the type of surgery to be performed, hydration is very important before and after surgery for safe recovery.

Do your best to achieve weight benchmarks or lifestyle changes to ensure the best results and minimize the chance of complications.



Recovery involves gradual mobilization over the two to three days following surgery. Full recovery from a tummy tuck procedure occurs over a period of six months or more. In the first couple of days, managing pain and avoiding complications is your top priority.


The first week will be the worst, and you will still feel like you are recovering for about two to three weeks. After a few weeks, regaining mobility and fitness becomes important. The patient must wait up to one month before returning to strenuous activities. 

After several months, you can start evaluating the aesthetic outcome of your surgery. It is important to remember that the time it takes to recover varies greatly among individuals.

Recuperating after a mini tummy tuck is reported to be quite manageable and swift. Most patients are active the next day, recover at home and return to work in about a week. This will vary with exactly what you have done. Patients may encounter minor bruising, swelling and discomfort in the lower belly after treatment, but these symptoms will gradually disperse within the first few weeks. A support garment is worn for 1 to 2 weeks, after which exercise is allowed.



Without another pregnancy or significant weight gain, your results should be permanent, although plastic surgery will not prevent the effects of normal aging. Once the skin is tightened, it will get a little looser as you age, but not much.

However, if you gain and then lose a large amount of weight after a tummy tuck, the abdominal skin could stretch out again, negatively impacting the overall contour. Likewise, if you become pregnant your abdomen will loosen again. For this reason, it is best to wait until after you finish having children to undergo a tummy tuck. If you’re planning to lose weight, do it before the surgery. 

Before & After

Click photo to enlarge

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