Dr. S. Alexander Earle and Dr. Alex Zuriarrain, partners at Pure Plastic Surgery in Miami, see countless women and men who desire a firmer, flatter stomach, and a tummy tuck may be the solution for stubborn belly bulge. “Also known as abdominoplasty, tummy tuck surgery removes excess skin and tightens muscles to restore abdominal tightness, especially after pregnancy or significant weight loss,” says Dr. Earle. Dr. Zuriarrain adds, “A tummy tuck is a great body contouring option when a healthy diet and regular exercise fail to improve the appearance of this common problem spot.”
According to Dr. Earle, “Although extremely safe and effective, tummy tuck surgery is not a quick fix, and it is reserved for significant excess skin and muscle laxity.” (Patients with minor skin laxity and no muscular concerns may be better candidates for non-invasive energy-based skin-tightening treatments.) Dr. Zuriarrain explains, “The ideal patient is generally healthy, at a stable weight and willing to accept the resulting scar.” The length and shape of the necessary incision depends on the type of tummy tuck performed, but according to Dr. Earle, “The good news is, it can usually be hidden by panties and bikini bottoms.”
Dr. Zuriarrain explains, “Tummy tuck surgery is customized for each patient in order to address their unique concerns and goals.” Tummy tuck surgery is not one-size-fits-all, and there are a variety of approaches that are generally dictated by the factors that contribute to a patient’s abdominal issues, as well as their desired outcomes.
Mini-tummy tuck:According to Dr. Earle, “Ideal for women with excess skin and muscle laxity limited to below the belly button, this tummy tuck approach uses one incision in the pubic region, which can range from a few inches to the entire span between the hipbones—depending on the patient’s need for repair.”
Full abdominoplasty: Considered the traditional approach, “This tummy tuck technique requires incisions across the lower abdomen and around the navel to remove excess skin, tighten muscles and reposition the belly button,” says Dr. Zuriarrain.
Extended abdominoplasty:This tummy tuck technique uses a longer incision to improve the appearance of love handles and excess skin on the hips while targeting deeper layers of tissue for maximum repair.
“Fleur de lis” tummy tuck: “In cases of excess skin that extends to the sides and back of the midsection, this tummy tuck approach adds a vertical incision that for even more tightening from the sides of the abdomen,” explains Dr. Earle.
Plastic surgeons often combine tummy tuck surgery with other procedures such as liposuction to optimize the final results. Dr. Zuriarrain says, “We usually perform flank liposuction in conjunction with mini-, traditional and extended tummy tucks to enhance the body’s contours and provide the best possible outcomes.” A tummy tuck can also be part of a “mommy makeover” procedure that includes breast augmentation or breast lift surgery as well.
It’s important to know that tummy tuck surgery isn’t to be taken lightly, and it requires a significant recovery period that includes at least two weeks of restricted activity and help getting around. Since many new moms are often interested in tummy tuck surgery when their belly doesn’t “bounce back,” Dr. Earle stresses that it’s essential to have help on hand because heavy lifting (including picking up children) must be avoided for at least six weeks after surgery. Dr. Zuriarrain emphasizes, “Although tummy tuck results are generally permanent, weight gain and additional pregnancies can affect results. This is why it’s important for a woman to be sure she’s done having children and be committed to maintaining a stable weight before considering a tummy tuck for the sake of long-lasting results.”