What is abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty, commonly called a “tummy tuck,” may be an option for people who have excess fat and skin due to extreme weight loss or gain, or in women who have had multiple pregnancies and have lost abdominal muscle tone and firmness. Abdominoplasty is considered a cosmetic or elective procedure, meaning that it is not medically necessary, in most cases.

Getting a tummy tuck is not a weight loss solution and it is not recommended for people who are intending to lose significant weight or to become pregnant in the future. People who smoke may not be candidates for this type of surgery as smoking cuts off blood flow to the tissues and increases risk of complications from surgery.

Abdominoplasty is often performed in conjunction with other procedures such as liposuction and panniculectomy.

Types of abdominoplasty procedures

Your surgeon will go over the different types of abdominoplasty procedures available to you, depending on your particular needs and condition.

  • Complete abdominoplasty – An extensive procedure involving a hip-to-hip incision (cut) and moving your belly button in the process of removing excess fat and skin, and tightening your abdominal muscles.
  • Partial or mini-abdominoplasty – A procedure that happens below the belly button and therefore doesn't require moving the belly button. Excess fat and skin is removed and abdominal muscles are tightened.
  • Panniculectomy – Surgical removal of excess skin and fat, often reserved for people who have lost more than 100 pounds and for whom this “apron” of fat causes additional lifestyle and health problems, such as infection where the skin flap hangs over.

Abdominoplasty is major surgery requiring general anesthesia (you'll be asleep throughout). As with any surgery, there are risks as well as varying outcomes depending on your health and your body's ability to heal.

What to expect from abdominoplasty

You will have pain and swelling after your tummy tuck, and it will take several weeks to recover from the initial surgery. You can expect full recovery to take several months or longer.

Your plastic surgeon will discuss all of your treatment options with you and help you determine whether abdominoplasty is right for you.


Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Many people think of plastic surgery as purely cosmetic, but there’s a lot more to this surgical specialty. Plastic surgeons often do reconstructive procedures that can rebuild body parts after an injury or illness.