A tummy tuck is a fairly major form of plastic surgery. This means it can make a significant difference in your appearance. It also means that it isn’t the right choice for everyone. Your cosmetic surgeon will want to ensure that you are actually a good candidate for a tummy tuck. That way, you are more likely to have a good outcome with few complications. Of course, you will also need to evaluate yourself before you even start the process of consulting with a plastic surgeon. First, let’s take a look at the type of patient who usually seeks abdominoplasty.
Who Gets a Tummy Tuck?
This surgery is designed for women (and men) who are dissatisfied with the appearance of their abdomen. The upper and lower abdomen may bulge outward. The lower abdomen may also have a flap of skin and fat that hangs down over the pubic area. Excess fat in the abdomen may cause the stomach and waist area to lack definition. Patients often find that this specific region of their body is resistant to sculpting from weight loss and exercise. That stubborn “pooch” remains no matter what they do. For some, the cause is hereditary or a natural result of the sagging and loss of tone that comes with age. For others, pregnancy or weight fluctuations are the underlying cause. Whatever the reason for a bulging tummy, the candidate for abdominoplasty seeks a smoother, more streamlined and youthful figure.
Are you a Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
There are a number of questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you are a good fit for abdominoplasty:
- Am I close to my goal weight and have I been at this weight for at least six months?
- Do I exercise regularly and have good overall health?
- Am I done having children (for women only)?
- Is the area of loose skin, lax muscle, and excess fat I want removed just around my abdomen?
- Would I be satisfied with a less than perfect outcome from abdominoplasty?
- Am I okay with having permanent scars on my lower abdomen?
- Have I fully accepted the risks that accompany major surgery?
- Can I budget effectively to afford this treatment?
- Do I have a support person who can help me through recovery after the procedure?
If you answered yes to these questions, you may be a candidate for a tummy tuck. Let’s take a look at some of the issues that could make you a poor candidate for this procedure.
Who is Not a Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
When a plastic surgeon evaluates a potential abdominoplasty candidate, there are a number of warning signs they look for. A patient might not always be refused a tummy tuck surgery based on these factors, but their risk of complications significantly increases.
- Scars in the treatment area (these interfere with the contouring of the skin and underlying tissue)
- A tendency to develop hypertrophic or keloid (raised and discolored) scars
- Morbid obesity (a BMI of 40 or more)
- Heart disease
- Any health condition that could cause blood clots
- Diabetes or other diseases that could interfere with wound healing
- Drug allergies that increase your risk of problems with anesthesia or post-op pain medication
- A cigarette smoking habit (if you smoke, you will need to stop well in advance of surgery)
- Unrealistic expectations such as expecting to have a completely flat stomach if you aren’t already quite slim – or thinking all stretch marks will be removed by the surgery
What Type of Tummy Tuck is Right for You?
There are several different types of abdominoplasty. A good candidate for one surgery might not benefit from another version of the procedure. Here’s a quick look at the three main kinds of tummy tuck and the patient profile for each one:
Mini: This procedure is designed for patients who only have a belly bulge below the navel. It works best for removing a small, localized area of fat and tightening up a little excess skin. It does not address separation of the abdominal muscles in the upper abdomen that make the stomach protrude. The incision is short and located above the pubic bone where it is easily hidden by undergarments or a bikini. The belly button isn’t moved.
Full: This operation is used to provide overall smoothing of the entire abdomen. Candidates for this surgery typically want to achieve tightening of both the upper and lower abdomen. The incision stretches from one hip bone to the other and the navel is usually re-positioned. This treatment is usually done in conjunction with liposuction for additional contouring.
Fleur-De-Lys: This surgery is generally reserved for patients who have lost a very substantial amount of weight (such as those who had bariatric surgery). The tuck involves making the usual horizontal incision but also a long vertical incision up the torso. This allows the waist to be tightened and nipped in more than a traditional full tummy tuck. The risk of complications is higher and healing is more difficult with this more extensive surgery. The T-shaped scar is also more difficult to hide.