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Overview

If you have lost a lot of weight or recently had a baby, you may be feeling self-conscious about having loose skin around the middle. A “tummy tuck” (the medical name for the procedure is abdominoplasty) is a popular cosmetic surgery for removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen. It can be challenging to trim the middle using diet and exercise, so a tummy tuck can help sculpt the mid-section for a firmer, more contoured appearance.

The tummy tuck is a popular cosmetic surgery procedure for both women and men. “Many patients complain that despite rigorous exercise and a strict diet, there is only so much they can do to tone the abdomen,” says Michael Alperovich, MD, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon for Yale Medicine. “We can tighten the muscles and remove the excess skin, leaving a scar that is often hidden at or below the underwear.”

At Yale Medicine, our plastic surgeons use computerized 3-D imaging to help you visualize the outcome of your tummy tuck before surgery. Together, we review the plan and make any needed adjustments to ensure you achieve the desired result.

What is abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty is a body-contouring surgery. An incision is made in the lower belly and excess fat and skin are removed. Then underlying abdominal muscles are tightened and the incision is closed. It is the leading cosmetic surgery procedure for women, according to The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. The abdominoplasty scar can usually be incorporated into an existing caesarean section scar, if there is one.

There are two types of abdominoplasty surgeries: You can have either a full or a partial (“mini”) tummy tuck. Depending on your individual aesthetic concerns, our doctors can recommend which procedure is right for you.

At Yale Medicine, we often combine abdominoplasty with liposuction, a procedure that suctions away unwanted fat. “There is some hesitancy among plastic surgeons to combine abdominoplasty with extensive liposuction. Some feel it could threaten the blood supply and surgical healing,” Dr. Alperovich says. But Yale Medicine has demonstrated that the procedure can be done safely and with better aesthetic results.

What causes skin to look saggy to begin with?

Skin can become saggy and lose its natural elasticity or stretchiness due to:

  • Weight Loss
  • Pregnancy
  • Aging
  • Past abdominal surgeries
  • Heredity

Can diet and exercise get rid of saggy skin?

Eating right and being active can help you lose weight, but only a tummy tuck removes loose, saggy skin. “Diet and exercise are the cornerstones of feeling and looking good,” says Dr. Alperovich. “However, the stretch on the abdominal muscle and skin after pregnancy, for instance, often cannot be completely corrected without surgery.”

Even so, all your efforts to eat well and work out are worthwhile. In addition to providing the foundation for a healthy lifestyle, they will maximize the final aesthetic result of a tummy tuck and preserve your new contours so you don’t need another tummy tuck in the future.

Can abdominoplasty get rid of stretch marks?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for stretch marks. However, stretch marks may be partially or fully eliminated if they are located in the area where excess skin is removed during your procedure.

“You should absolutely wait to see a plastic surgeon until you are confident you no longer plan to get pregnant and after you feel you have maximized your weight loss through diet and exercise,” says Dr. Alperovich. “If you get pregnant after a tummy tuck, you will once again stretch out your abdominal muscles and skin.”

What should I expect after surgery?

A tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia and can be done in the hospital or as an outpatient surgery. You will notice an immediate reduction in the amount of skin and excess fat post-surgery. Generally, you will need to rest at home for several days before returning to work, and you will wear bandages and a support garment for two to three weeks after surgery Modify your activity for three months, and  consult your doctor before returning to your exercise regime.

What distinguishes Yale Medicine?

At the Yale Medicine Cosmetic Surgery Program, our world-renowned surgeons can help you decide if a tummy tuck is right for you. We work together  to create a surgical plan that meets your aesthetic goals, so you can feel at ease while we care for you.

We use the most sophisticated 3-D imaging technology and computer simulation to show you the proposed outcome of your abdominoplasty. Together, we review the 3-D image and make adjustments to the surgical plan if needed.