University of Virginia Plastic Surgery
1300 Jefferson Park Avenue 4th Floor
Charlottesville, VA 22908
Phone: (434) 924-1234
Location Hours: Monday—Friday | 8 a.m.– 5 p.m.

Considering a Tummy Tuck? Here’s What You Need to Know

A woman measures her waistline after recovering from her tummy tuck surgery.

A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgery that targets excess skin, stretched muscles, and fatty tissue along the abdomen. It is commonly performed after pregnancy or significant weight loss.

During a tummy tuck at our Charlottesville or Fishersville practice, loose skin and underlying fat are removed and abdominal muscles are surgically repaired back together if necessary. Repairing the underlying muscles and removing excess skin can only be achieved surgically.

In this post, I’ll review the procedure; how it can be customized to help you feel as confident as possible with a safe, short, and comfortable recovery; and what you can expect throughout the surgical process.

The Procedure

During a full tummy tuck, the board-certified plastic surgeons at UVA Plastic Surgery will tighten the middle abdomen muscles from your ribs to your pubic area. The lower abdominal skin and fatty tissue get surgically removed and the remaining skin is pulled down to the lower abdomen, creating a tighter, flatter appearance. Our plastic surgeons are very careful to artfully design a youthful and feminine or masculine appearance to the umbilicus during the procedure.

It is a misconception that a new bellybutton is made. Rather, your original bellybutton (umbilicus) is placed in a natural position but given a more youthful appearance.

Our techniques allow us to close the incisions completely from the inside without placing any external sutures to provide the least perceivable scar both short and long term. The scar is easily hidden by underwear or a  bikini, or male bathing suits.

Tummy Tuck Benefits

While abdominoplasty is a moderate surgery, the benefits compared to other body sculpting procedures are unmatched. It provides the most dramatic, yet natural-looking change, which our surgeons artistically blend into the thighs and back area.

Noninvasive procedures such as CoolSculpting® can modestly reduce fat percentages when combined with diet and exercise, but they cannot address sagging skin or mend separated abdominal muscles the way a tummy tuck can.

Modifications

A mini tummy tuck may be performed on patients who have no muscle separation and only modest loose skin, but this procedure is not as commonly done because most women who have had children have more severely stretched out skin and muscle separation.

Extended tummy tucks are commonly performed on patients who have experienced major weight loss, particularly after bariatric surgery.

Liposuction may be used during the procedure as well to address unwanted fat. However an abdominoplasty is focused solely on the removal of excess skin and an overstretched abdomen and is not a fat removal procedure. To learn more about combining tummy tuck with other procedures, often as part of a mommy makeover, see this blog post.

Tummy Tuck Recovery

As with any moderate surgery, patients will experience some discomfort after the procedure, but the use of anatomic nerve blocks and advanced IV non-narcotic medications during surgery at UVA help to make recovery from the surgery more comfortable. Patients should expect a recovery period anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. Most patients who have sedentary jobs will take 1 to 2 weeks off work.  If a patient’s job is more physical it can be as much as 4 to 6 weeks off work.  Most patients take 4 to 6 weeks off exercise, then ease back into light, low impact exercise. It takes approximately 3 months to return to vigorous exercise, heavy lifting or contact sports. My patients tell me the results of the procedure prove to be worth the temporary inconvenience.

If you are ready to move forward with a tummy tuck at our Charlottesville or Fishersville locations, please contact us online or call (434) 924-1234 (Charlottesville) or (540) 932-5771 (Fishersville) to request a personal consultation.

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