What is a tummy tuck?

Stuart A. Linder, MD
Plastic Surgery
A tummy tuck procedure usually requires 3 layers of correction of the abdominal wall. Primarily, skin is removed after undermining and draping it in the operating room. Secondly, tightening of the inner muscles or the rectus sheath is performed by plication technique. And lastly, liposculpturing of the hips is often performed concurrently in order to smooth out the sides of the midriff area. 

Women who are excellent candidates for tummy tuck often have either had children or have had significant weight fluctuation leading to increased skin laxity. In general, if you are able to remove skin from the suprapubic region, aka, where a cesarean scar would be placed, up to the belly button or umbilical area, then a patient is a good candidate for an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck. Skin tonicity is what differs patients' candidacy for abdominoplasty or tummy tuck versus liposuction. Increased skin laxity occurs with weight gain, pregnancy, weight fluctuations. 

During an abdominoplasty procedure, it is important to address the muscles internally. The rectus abdominis sheath needs to be plicated or brought back to the midline by usually an interrupted suture method. Tummy tuck procedures are useful for women who are no longer considering childbirth as we do not normally tighten or plicate the rectus muscles until the patient is finished with pregnancies. 

Tummy tuck procedures lead women to flatter stomachs, however, the sacrifice, of course, is the scarring which can be significant along the lower bikini line as well as around the belly button. Please consult your board-certified plastic surgeon for a procedure such as this. It does require skill and experience and judgment in order to perform this operation safely under general anesthesia.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.