What is a Tummy Tuck?

A Tummy Tuck, or abdominoplasty, is the most effective way to tighten your stomach area and remove excess hanging skin. According to Wikipedia there are six versions of abdominoplasty. However, the most common types are:
  • dermolipectomy
  • mini-tummy tuck
  • full tummy tuck

All types of tummy tucks get rid of loose skin between the belly button and pubic hairline. However, a full Tummy Tuck will also remove fat tissue and tighten the muscles in the abdomen.  Generally speaking, the simple term 'tummy tuck' usually refers to a 'full tummy tuck'.

After a full Tummy Tuck, your abdomen will no longer stick out when sitting down or bending over. Say goodbye to holding in your belly!

No matter how much I exercise, my stomach sticks out!

-Baltimore patient

What symptoms does a Tummy Tuck solve?

There are three problems which the full Tummy Tuck procedure addresses. Patients who are candidates for the procedure usually have these three complaints:

  • Loose or wrinkly skin, stretch marks: This can be a result of aging, pregnancy, or marked weight loss.
  • Fat tissue: The lower abdomen and flanks (love handles) are the most common areas of fat deposits.
  • Abdominal muscle separation: This can occur by itself, or as a result of pregnancy. Sit-ups or crunches don't help in this situation as once the muscles relax, they separate and the tummy bulges out.

Do I Need Exercise or a Tummy Tuck?

Liposuction alone can take care of excess fat tissue, but loose skin and stretch marks must be addressed by one of three techniques: dermolipectomy, mini-tummy tuck, or full tummy tuck. No amount of exercise can help loose hanging skin, and this can only be addressed with a Tummy Tuck.

Additionally, there is the issue of muscle separation. Unfortunately, exercise will not repair a muscle that has become separated. Only a full Tummy Tuck can repair the muscle.

In this YouTube video , I explain how to do a self examination of your stomach to find out if you have a separated rectus abdominis muscle. If you have this type of muscle separation, no amount of exercise can make your stomach flat. The stomach muscle must be sewn back together so that you can get a flat tummy.

To learn more about tummy tuck muscles and self examination you can also read my blog post here.

Before and After Tummy Tuck Photos

Tummy Tuck Photo Gallery Banner
See our gallery of Before and After Tummy Tuck Photos to see what a tummy tuck can do for you.

Our photo gallery includes over 40 sets of actual patient photos. Please note that all of these patients have given written consent to use their photos at our web site. We are very grateful to our patients for their generous participation in patient education!

What is the difference between a tummy tuck and a mini-tummy tuck?

The tummy tuck addresses the three components your abdomen: the skin, fat, and muscle. Most notable is the fact that work is done to tighten the muscles, which will benefit women who want as flat a stomach as possible. Results, especially when combined with liposuction of the flanks, are dramatic.

A mini tummy tuck is best suited for women who don't have stretch marks or saggy skin, but have a pouch below the belly button. It can be done through an incision in the belly button, or through a C section scar if the patient wants a little excess skin taken off.

Men, on the other hand, seem to have their pouch above the belly button. I perform the mini tummy tuck in the same fashion by going through a small incision in the belly button. To learn more about the difference between a tummy tuck and mini-tummy tuck, please read my blog post describing the difference between the two surgical techniques.

What if my stomach muscle is fine, but I have lots of loose skin?

If you do not need muscle work, there is a procedure which is designed to only remove the loose skin. A dermolipectomy is a procedure that takes out skin, but does not tighten the muscle. It benefits most slender women who have wrinkly or excess skin, but good muscle tone. It has the same scar as a tummy tuck, but can be performed in a shorter amount of time.

What is involved in the full tummy tuck procedure?

The Tummy Tuck procedure takes approximately 4 hours of operating room time. Although the surgery can be performed under either IV or General Anesthesia, I prefer the use of IV anesthesia because patients experience much less nausea.

On the morning of your procedure, while you are still awake, I make the surgical markings on your stomach with you in front of a mirror. I now ask my patients to bring their favorite bathing suit , as this helps me decide where to place the incisions.  I review the exact incision location with you, and make every possible effort to keep it below your panty line.

Once the procedure starts, the first step is to cut the skin between the belly button and top of the pubic hair. I use the surgical markings as my guidelines. The belly button stays in place. The muscles are then tightened from the pubic bone to the ribs. The skin above the belly button is then stretched down to the pubic area and stitched in place. Finally, the belly button is brought out through the overlying skin to occupy its original position.

Contact Dr. RodriguezI pay special attention to not only the placement of the scar, but the way I close and suture the wound back together.  I believe that my closure technique results in a thinner scar. 

The technique that I use is referred to as the Lockwood technique.  After over two decades of performing Tummy Tucks, I now exclusively use the Lockwood technique for all abdominoplasty procedures. The Lockwood technique involves closing the wound in a special way so that there is less tension on the incision. This surgical technique results in a thinner scar and has a dramatic reduction in post op seromas that are seen with the tummy tuck procedure.

Learn more about why the Lockwood technique helps reduce post operative tummy tuck swelling and seromas in my blog post here.

After your surgery is completed, you will go to the recovery room, and then be discharged home.  Since nearly all procedures are performed under IV anesthesia, patients are usually discharged within 1-2 hours. Patients usually return to the office for follow up with me on the fifth post operative day.  This is the day where I remove the drains and padding. 

What type of anesthesia is used?

In my Baltimore surgery center I prefer to use IV sedation with Tummy Tuck procedures. IV sedation provides for a quicker recovery than General Anesthesia and eliminates much of the nausea associated with anesthesia.

To ensure the highest level of safety for your procedure, I employ only Board Certified Anesthesiologists in my AAAASF Accredited Surgery Center located near in Baltimore, Maryland.

I also have skin which hangs over the sides of my hips. Can a tummy tuck fix that too?

If you have excess skin and fat which hangs over your hips, you should consider a lower body lift procedure. The body lift includes an outer thigh lift and buttock lift, in addition to the abdominoplasty.

How Long is the Tummy Tuck Recovery?

Following a Tummy Tuck , you should plan to take a minimum of 2 weeks off from work. You should not drive for up to 3 weeks.

During this period, I will ask you to wear a compression garment. This garment is important during the post operative period because it helps the area to heal evenly and smoothly. To see a full description of the post op recovery, please read my article entitled How Long is the Tummy Tuck Recovery?

How much does a Tummy Tuck cost?

The average total cost for a Tummy Tuck procedure is $6400-$8700 to include surgeon's fee, OR fees, and anesthesia fees. The range depends on whether it is a mini tummy tuck or a full tummy tuck.

We are currently running a special promotion on the full Tummy Tuck through June 30 2015. Total cost is $8100. All follow up office visits are included in my surgical fee. Financing is available.

Featured Tummy Tuck Expert on RealSelf.com

I am a Top Doc on RealSelf.com which is a designation awarded to less than 10 percent of all doctors at their website! Please read the many glowing reviews from my patients at RealSelf.com, as well as other healthcare portals such as Doctorbase.com.

Contact Dr. Rodriguez for a consult

We would be happy to have you Contact Us by email or call us at 410-494-8100 to discuss your individual needs with you and answer any questions you may have about the abdominoplasty procedure.

doctor's signature Updated April 19, 2015
by Dr. Ricardo L Rodriguez
Board Certified Plastic Surgery