Tummy Tuck: FAQ
There are a lot of questions to ask when considering a tummy tuck. Here are some of the questions we hear most, with their answers. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Petersen to learn more!
- What Will my Tummy Tuck Scar Look Like?
Each person scars differently. Genetics, sun exposure, and incision care can all affect the healing process of your tummy tuck incision scar. Following the post-surgery instructions our office gives you will help minimize both stress to the incision and infection risk, which will also improve scar minimization.
Every tummy tuck patient will have a scar that starts at one hip, crosses the lower abdomen, and ends at the other hip. While the tummy tuck scar is permanent, the scar will fade with time. But because a tummy tuck is a significant surgical procedure, you need to be patient. Expect to wait 9 months to a year before you see significant fading of the scar. Protect the scar from sun exposure which can permanently increase scar discoloration. Use a scar cream or treatment that has silicone in it to soften the scar. We recommend Scar Guard to our tummy tuck patients in our Salt Lake City office. The Scar Guard you can purchase in our office is stronger than the Scar Guard you can buy in drug stores.
- Will I Be Able to Wear a Bikini After my Tummy Tuck?
You should be able to wear a two piece bathing suit after your tummy tuck. But not every bikini bottom out there will cover your tummy tuck scar. Your scar will go from hip to hip and will lie low across the stomach. If you have a pair of underwear or a bathing suit bottom that you would like to be able to confidently wear after your tummy tuck surgery, by all means bring it with you to your appointment. The more information you can give Dr. Petersen about what you want from your tummy tuck the better he can tailor his work to meet your desires.
- What is the Down Time or Recovery for a Tummy Tuck Like?
A tummy tuck is a significant surgery and you need to carefully plan your recovery to allow your body time to heal. Doing too much after surgery too quickly will actually compromise your cosmetic result. You should plan for a week of recovery time off of work if you have a job that is not physically demanding—like sitting at a desk. 2 weeks off of work is always better, but not always feasible. If you have a physically demanding job you will need to plan for extra time off of work.
You might need nausea medication for 1-2 days after surgery and prescription pain medication for 3-5 days. Dr. Petersen will send you home with leg squeezers that you wear for 1 week any time you are not up and walking. This lowers your risk of blood clotting complications.
- Why is it so Important that I Stop Smoking Before my Tummy Tuck?
Smoking diminishes the amount of oxygen in the blood. That means that as your blood circulates there is less oxygen reaching the tissues trying to heal after your tummy tuck surgery. Reduced oxygen slows the healing process and increases the risk of infection. Infection in a healing tummy tuck scar will make the scar more prominent. There is even the risk that reduced oxygen in the blood will cause some of the tissue around the incision area to die. Healing tissue needs oxygen to be healthy and to heal properly. Smoking increases the risk of complications and can even compromise your surgical results.
- Does Liposuction Come With a Tummy Tuck?
In Dr. Petersen’s Salt Lake City plastic surgery office, liposuction of the flank area is included with your tummy tuck. Liposuction of the flank area, or the rear part of the waistline, significantly improves and smooths contour and silhouette.
Liposuction of other areas, such as the legs is very common with a tummy tuck procedure. But that additional liposuction carries additional charges.
- What is a Mini Tummy Tuck?
A mini tummy tuck commonly refers to the removing of excess skin from the front of the abdomen in a less extensive procedure. Generally the abdominal muscles are not altered and the waistline contouring is less dramatic. A football shaped section of skin is removed, but the belly button is not moved. Contouring across the hips is minimal.
While there may be women who are a good candidate for mini tummy tucks, most women will find a more dramatic change from a full tummy tuck procedure. I saw one woman who came to see me after previously having a mini tummy tuck performed by her O.B. in conjunction with a hysterectomy. She was distraught because although her stomach was more flat, she still had that muffin top appearance around her hips and upper waist.
- Should I Get a Tummy Tuck with my C-Section?
Some O.B. doctors will offer a tummy tuck procedure at the same time as a C-section. The logic here is that you can combine the recovery time for the two procedures. I generally counsel against this. O.B. doctors will only be able to offer a mini tummy tuck procedure and that may not be the procedure best suited to you. Additionally, your body is not itself during pregnancy. Just after delivery your skin and weight distribution are not what they will be in 6 months. You really need to allow your body time to recover from pregnancy so that you can accurately assess your body contouring needs. Any major body changes after surgery will affect your surgical outcome, whether that is weight loss or post pregnancy body changes.
- Do I need to Be at My Ideal Weight Before Getting a Tummy Tuck?
No. But you should be close. Just like losing weight after pregnancy can affect the cosmetic result of your tummy tuck, losing or gaining significant weight can affect the cosmetic result of your tummy tuck. I generally tell patients that they should be within 15 pounds of their goal weight. Sometimes our “ideal” weight may not be our goal weight. An ideal weight is some number on a chart, but your goal weight is where you feel you can realistically and comfortably maintain your weight. You just need to remember that if you are planning on trying to continue to lose weight after your tummy tuck, your cosmetic results will be compromised. You should be at a stable weight that works for you before your procedure.
If you have been progressively losing weight, you should be at a stable weight for several months before having your tummy tuck procedure to make sure your tummy tuck results are stable too. Everyone fluctuates within a weight range. By stable weight I mean the weight you remain, within 5-10 pounds, on a continual basis. You do not want to go on a crash diet, get a tummy tuck, and then gain back weight. You will be unhappy with your results and probably unhappy with yourself. The point of a tummy tuck is to make you feel more beautiful and confident.