Three Things To Know About A Tummy Tuck

The stomach area is the number one region that almost all women, and some men, would like to improve. Many have discovered, however, that improving that body area is not as easy as one would like. Many people work hard at it but eventually ‘hit the wall’, get frustrated and may even quit their diet and exercise routinue with no more changes are seen. But the fault may not be your own. Loose stomach skin and fatty bulges at the waistline from pregnancy or significant weight loss are not amenable to internal calorie or fat burning. This brings some to the conclusion that the only way to a more shapely torso is a surgical one.

Everyone knows that a tummy tuck is the removal of skin and fat with muscle tightening to get a flatter stomach and better waistline. While it is almost always a very satisfying procedure, and many patients say afterwards they wish they had done it sooner, it is major surgery and is not just a weekend recovery. When considering a tummy tuck, be aware of the following considerations.

There are two basic types of tummy tucks. If your excess skin and fat is mostly located below the belly button, you may do just fine with a mini tummy tuck. Because the skin and fat removal is done below the belly button, there is a shorter incision that can be placed very low and the belly button is not moved. There is also a slightly shorter recovery with emphasis on the word ‘slightly’. If  the loose skin and stretch marks are above the belly button, only a full tummy tuck will do. With that comes a longer scar, a bellybutton scar and a longer recovery.

I have seen recent treatment approaches, particularly online, that tout a ‘scar-free tummy tuck’. There is no such thing and this is just marketing spin to say they are offering stomach liposuction. That raises a question that many people would like to pursue…liposuction instead of a tummy tuck for their flabby and sagging stomachs. That has become a popular request, particularly since Smartlipo (laser liposuction) technology has become available. While it is true that Smartlipo does have some skin tightening ability, it is quantitatively different than what many people need. Smartlipo tightens skin as measured in millimeters, most people need stomach skin tightening as measured in centimeters. With this understanding, it is easy to see that liposuction is not a substitute for a tummy tuck.

Liposuction, however, is very often a part of a tummy tuck. But it isn’t necessarily used to make the tummy part looking better. It is used to shape the areas outside of where the effects of the tummy tuck occur…the outer waistline and back. (i.e. muffin tops) A tummy tuck alone is a 180 degree or frontal torso change. By adding waistline and back contouring with liposuction, the results becomes more of a 270 degree torso change.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana