Common Tummy Tuck Myths
Abdominoplasty, more commonly known as a tummy tuck, is a popular procedure, largely done by women, to flatten the abdomen and increase muscle tone. Since it’s a relatively invasive surgery, it’s not a decision to make lightly. There are a lot of common tummy tuck myths out there. Consider the facts and determine whether you are a candidate for this surgery in an informed way.
MYTH: There is only one kind of tummy tuck procedure.
FACT: There are several different procedures, all which offer a different result for different patients. The three most common are:
- Full abdominoplasty– An incision is made from hip to hip, the musculature is tightened with sutures, a portion of excess skin and fat is permanently removed, and the incision is sutured. Drains are usually installed to drain fluids as the incision heals. The patient also gets a new, higher, belly button since their old belly button is removed in the surgery. Liposuction is also often used to smooth out the hips and transition zone.
- Partial abdominoplasty– This is just a less invasive version of the full tummy tuck, with a smaller incision and, sometimes, without drains.
- Extended abdominoplasty– The extended TT surgery involves a full circumferential incision around the lower abdomen, removal of excess skin and fat, tightening of the musculature, and an overall lift effect. Even the thighs and buttocks are lifted in this procedure. This process is more invasive and can be more painful, especially since the patient can’t lay in any position without laying on the incision. The dramatic results are often worth the pain and sacrifice, however.
MYTH: You can’t get pregnant after a tummy tuck.
FACT: There is no proven risk to getting pregnant after a tummy tuck. Doctors will often recommend that you wait until you are done having children to get this procedure done, but that is largely because pregnancy is likely to ruin your results, which is a waste of money and all the inconvenience and pain of recovery. From a safety standpoint, however, if you should find yourself pregnant after a tummy tuck, make sure you OBGYN is aware, but don’t worry too much about it.
MYTH: Tummy tuck scars are ugly and embarrassing.
FACT: A good surgeon will suture in a way that, over time, will make your scars very small and hard to see. Some people will have thicker and more obvious scarring, but most will be pleasantly surprised at the way their scars heal. Some describe theirs as a “little white line” and some say that they forget they even have a scar after a while. However, it does take some time for a TT scar to fully heal. It can take up to a year or even more for it to flatten out and lose color. So be patient and don’t panic.
MYTH: Tummy Tucks can make you skinny.
FACT: While some fat can be removed during surgery, and while the surgeon often performs liposuction as well, TT surgery should only be known as a “contouring” procedure. The very most that a patient can lose from a surgery is 20-25 pounds, although that’s not typical. Most patients will lose between 8-10 pounds. For all the expense and risk, it’s better to hit the gym and cut back on calories if weight loss is your goal. However, if you are looking simply for a better shape and fewer bumps and bulges, a TT might be the right choice.
MYTH: It takes months to fully recover from a tummy tuck.
FACT: While there can be complications such as necrotizing fasciitis (dying tissue around the incision site) or infection, most people heal more quickly than you might expect. With pain medications and rest, you can be back at work within ten days of the surgery with minimal discomfort. Again, healing time varies greatly, but most patients find that they can be back to their normal routines relatively quickly.
MYTH: You will see full results within a month or so.
FACT: Understanding the results will go a long way in mentally preparing for tummy tuck surgery. Unfortunately, because the body has gone through so much trauma, there is a period of swelling that can last for months. Some patients report significant weight gain due to swelling, and this period has been affectionately called “swell hell.”
This is why drains are installed, to help alleviate some of this reactive swelling, and the compression garments you are given after the surgery will help quite a bit as well. You should wait six months before judging your tummy tuck results, after which many patients find their new body miraculously emerging.
While there is a lot of research to do on the misconceptions about tummy tucks and the results, this procedure can be helpful to many people. It’s worth the time to find the right doctor and ask all the right questions of what you don’t know about tummy tucks. If you want that beach body ready to go, consider talking to your physician about a tummy tuck!
Do you have more questions about a tummy tuck procedure?
Dr. Finkel has answers. Schedule your consultation with the surgeon.