The good news is that the traditional tummy tuck operation, or abdominoplasty in medical parlance, has been complemented by innovative liposuction and minimally invasive body contouring techniques.
The reason why is simple: surgical tummy tuck operations are very invasive procedures. This type of abdominal plastic surgery involves removing excess fat from the abdomen, skin, and in some cases, reestablishing weakened or separated muscles. But the end result, an overall abdominal profile that is both firmer and smoother, is well worth it. The procedure is normally sought by those who have experienced a lot of weight loss or have sagging tissues due to pregnancy.
A tummy tuck procedure requires a horizontal incision in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired. A second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess upper abdominal skin, which is pulled down like a window shade. Excess skin is trimmed and remaining skin is sutured together. A new opening for the belly button is created. The belly button is popped through to the surface and sutured into position.
Small plastic drains are inserted to help the drainage and these stay in place for about 12 hours post-op. When the swelling has decreased, patients can enjoy a tighter, flatter looking stomach. Abdominoplasty is often combined with a panniculectomy, which removes any overhanging “apron” of skin and tissue from below the belly button. This excess skin is typically the result of significant weight loss through diet and exercise.
There is also a less intrusive surgical approach, the mini tummy tuck, which requires smaller incisions in the patient’s abdominal area to remove fat and skin from muscle fascia, the fibrous connective tissue that is present throughout the entire body.
The number of liposuction and tummy tuck procedures in the U.S. grew 56% between 2000 and 2020 to 97,988 procedures, most likely due to the influence of television shows like FX’ Nip/Tuck (2003-2010) and NBC’s The Biggest Loser (2004-2016).