What is a Tummy Tuck?
If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight, either after pregnancy or through exercise and dietary changes, excess skin and weakened abdominal muscles can leave you self-conscious about your appearance. Dr. Paul G. Ruff IV, Dr. Catherine Hannan and Dr. Lauren Patrick specialize in body contouring procedures such as abdominoplasty, commonly called a tummy tuck, at their Washington, D.C. practice. They have performed thousands of tummy tuck surgeries and will work with you to determine whether you are a good surgical candidate.
If you have been unable to reduce your protruding stomach with weight loss or exercise, you are most likely a good candidate for a tummy tuck. Individuals who have stabilized at their desired weight or who plan no additional pregnancies have better success with tummy tuck surgery. A tummy tuck is often combined with either a breast lift or a breast augmentation and lift, in what’s often called a mommy makeover.
Dr. Ruff, and our other board certified plastic surgeons, are dedicated to helping you achieve the body you want in a safe and appropriate way. Therefore, you will meet at length with staff before scheduling your tummy tuck surgery. At this meeting, your abdominal muscles will be evaluated and you will discuss how you want your abdomen to look after your surgery.
Your surgeon and the team at West End Plastic Surgery will:
- Review the various tummy tuck options with you
- Clearly discuss the potential risks of the procedure
- Outline in detail how the surgery is performed and what you can expect before, during, and after the procedure
- Provide detailed cost and payment information
- Answer all your questions
You will need to provide:
- Details about your medical history
- A list of all medications you currently take, including over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, vitamins, and herbal supplements
- Information regarding your tobacco and alcohol use
Types of Tummy Tucks
Tummy tucks are classified into 4 categories: standard, mini, reverse, and modified, with each category resulting in a different rate of healing. The type of tummy tuck that will be used will be discussed in detail during your meeting with Dr. Ruff and his staff so that the most appropriate technique is used for your body.
Tummy Tuck Procedure
Your tummy tuck surgery may be performed as an outpatient or inpatient procedure. The surgery is performed under anesthesia and usually takes about 2 to 4 hours to complete. The doctor makes an incision across your abdomen; every effort is made to make the incision below the bikini line. In some cases, the incision extends vertically up the middle of the abdomen. The placement of your incision will be discussed with you during your initial consultation, especially as it relates to clothing styles and swimwear.
Once the incision is made, the doctor removes unwanted skin, fat, and tissue and tightens your abdominal muscles. He injects a local numbing medication called EXPAREL® into the surgical area to provide pain relief after surgery for approximately 72 hours. Stitches are then used to close the incision.
Once the incision is stitched, gauze dressings are applied and an elastic abdominal binder is placed around your abdomen. You will wear this binder for several weeks to facilitate the healing process.
Tummy tuck surgery will result in a flatter and smoother abdomen because abdominal muscles and stretched skin are tightened during the procedure. The results of the surgery are permanent except in cases of large weight gain or pregnancy after surgery.
Tummy Tuck Patient Testimonial
“I can’t say enough about my experience with Dr. Ruff and his team at West End. I chose him as my surgeon because he was able to answer all of my questions about lipo and tummy tuck. He took his time and was very assuring to me, explaining in depth of what to expect with having the procedures. I consulted with several surgeons but Dr Ruff was definitely the best! My results are awesome. I am a new woman and feel 100% better about my body. Thank you so much.” – Wanda
Tummy tuck surgery is usually an outpatient procedure, but a short hospital stay may be requested. Once you go home, you will want to have someone stay with you for the first few days. The application of EXPAREL during surgery provides pain relief for approximately the first 72 hours and eliminates the need for a pain pump. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication to alleviate further discomfort as you may experience some degree of pain for the first 10 to 20 days after your surgery.
Though you may not be able to stand up completely straight for at least a week after surgery, it is important to start moving and walking within a day of surgery. Once you return home, it is important to move around the house every few hours to reduce the chance of blood clots.
|Shower||2 to 3 Days After Surgery|
|Bath||After Drains are Removed|
|Back to Work||2 to 6 Weeks After Surgery|
|Driving||2 to 6 Weeks After Surgery|
|Strenuous Activity||6 to 8 Weeks After Surgery|
|Fading of Scars||Several Months to 1 Year|
The First 24 to 48 Hours After Tummy Tuck Surgery
During the first 24 to 48 hours after your procedure, you will feel tired from the anesthesia and may experience mild to moderate discomfort. To reduce the chance of blood clots and to facilitate the healing process, it is important to start moving and walking within a day of your surgery. You will wear an elastic abdominal binder for several weeks after your surgery to provide gentle, healing pressure, to provide stability, and to help reduce swelling.
The stitches used during your tummy tuck surgery are dissolving. Occasionally, small tags left at the skin surface are clipped at an early postoperative office visit. The drains that were inserted into the surgical area will be removed within a week of your surgery. Upon release from the hospital, you will be instructed on how to take care of the drains, which are used to allow fluid to drain from the surgical area. You can shower the day after the drains are removed.
The First 2 Weeks After Abdominoplasty
You will notice a marked improvement in your discomfort level during the first few weeks after your surgery:
- Any bruising you experience will usually disappear in about 2 weeks.
- You can most likely resume light activity within 10 to 20 days of your surgery.
- We will remove the stitches under your skin 14 to 28 days after your surgery.
- Sleeping on your back in a semi-upright position will most likely provide the most comfort and will help with the healing process.
- You can shower or bathe as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Treat the surgical tape placed over your incision like your own skin — bathe and dry off normally. If the strips become loose, or curl on the ends, you can snip the ends off or remove them completely.
During the first 2 weeks after surgery, you should also:
- Wear the elastic abdominal binder placed on your abdomen after surgery at all times except while showering.
- Avoid heavy lifting (greater than 15 pounds) and straining for at least 6 weeks.
When Can I Resume My Normal Routine After My Tummy Tuck?
Everyone heals at different rates, and you are the best judge of when you are ready for certain activities, but the following are general guidelines:
- You can most likely return to work or school within 2 to 6 weeks after your procedure, unless your work is strenuous.
- You can resume driving within 6 weeks as long as you experience no pain in the abdominal area.
- Six weeks after surgery, you can begin to go without the elastic abdominal binder. If the binder is extremely uncomfortable for you, call the staff at West End Plastic Surgery to see if we can remove it earlier.
- Strenuous exercise can begin in 6 to 8 weeks after surgery depending on your comfort level. Our patients are encouraged to plan an exercise program and discuss it with the staff prior to resuming exercise.
- You should protect the scars on your abdomen from sunlight for at least a year after surgery.
What Procedures Can Be Combined with Abdominoplasty?
Dr. Ruff at West End Plastic Surgery is one of the first specialists in the Washington, D.C. area certified to perform VASERlipo™ liposuction, a much gentler form of liposuction, that can be used to remove fat in the area near your tummy tuck.
Alternatives to Tummy Tuck Surgery
Some patients may do well with non-excisional techniques such as liposuction. The patient’s goals for contouring are critical in determining which technique is best. For severe skin and muscle laxity, abdominoplasty is the only technique that restores desired contour and tone.
Will Insurance Cover My Abdominoplasty?
Tummy tuck surgery is considered cosmetic surgery and, therefore, is not covered by insurance. You are responsible for the full payment of the procedure. We will fully discuss cost and payment information during your initial consultation.
Risks Of Abdominoplasty Surgery
Like all surgical procedures, there are risks with tummy tuck surgery. During your initial consultation with Dr. Ruff or our surgeons, your individual risks will be assessed and discussed and it will be determined whether you are a good candidate for the procedure. As with any surgery, you can help reduce the risks by closely following the pre- and post-surgery instructions provided to you. Your surgeon and their team will be with you every step of the way to ensure a safe and beautifully contoured outcome.
- You may experience a loss of sensation or numbness in the area of your surgery. This is entirely normal and may take several months to disappear.
- The skin of your abdomen may appear shiny due to swelling. Within a few weeks, the swelling will disappear and the skin will return to a normal appearance.
- You may notice a tingling sensation in the surgical area. This feeling is a result of the healing of the nerves in the area and will go away within several months of your procedure.