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The overall aesthetics of the abdomen are affected by three main components: the skin, fat and underlying muscle layer. When one or more of these are not in a desirable state, the attractiveness of the abdomen is adversely impacted. There can be unwanted fat ranging from small localized deposits to a markedly thick fat layer and even to hanging rolls of fat along with loose skin. The skin laxity may be anywhere from minimal and localized to the lower abdomen to severe with a massive excess, vertically and horizontally, that can produce large hanging cascades of skin and fat. More deeply situated, the abdominal wall muscles may be slightly lax or they can be very loose, stretched out and separated resulting in a very protuberant abdomen.

Undesirable fat accumulation of the abdomen (deep to the skin but not inside the abdomen) is extremely common in women but not so much in men. Men actually store their fat intra-abdominally—around the colon and other vital organs—which can’t be treated with liposuction. Pregnancy and significant weight loss are the most common causes of a loose, flabby abdomen which impact the skin as well as the underlying muscle layers.

Unfortunately, exercising and dieting rarely eliminate these problems. When it comes to addressing excess skin and a lax underlying muscle layer, a tummy tuck (also known as an abdominoplasty) may be the answer. Plastic surgeon Steven Turkeltaub, MD uses leading-edge techniques to help his patients obtain more natural-looking and desirable abdominoplasty results with less conspicuous scarring.

What Is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is the aesthetic surgical procedure designed to address excess skin and associated fat as well as muscle separation and laxity of the abdomen. Treatment entails the removal of this skin and fat along with repair of the underlying muscle layer and contouring of the abdominal wall. The final outcome is a flatter, tighter, more sculpted appearance.

Abdominoplasty continually ranks as one of the top cosmetic surgeries performed every year due to its dramatic results and high rate of patient satisfaction. It is particularly popular among women who wish to restore their pre-pregnancy figure and individuals who have lost a considerable amount of weight through diet and exercise or bariatric surgery.

Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction

Although both a tummy tuck and liposuction can be used to sculpt the abdominal region, the two procedures are designed to treat different concerns. The purpose of liposuction is to eliminate stubborn buildup of fat that is resistant to the traditional fat reduction approaches of diet and exercise. It is also generally recommended in those with relatively good skin tone without laxity. In contrast, tummy tuck surgery is designed to remove loose, excess skin along with the underlying fat and to repair stretched out or separated muscles of the abdominal wall.

Panniculectomy vs. Abdominoplasty

A panniculectomy is the surgical procedure designed to remove excess skin and fat hanging down over the groin region from the lower abdomen that is usually a result of massive weight loss. In most cases, this procedure is performed when the degree of excess, draping skin and fat is so significant that it causes chronic chafing, skin infections, hygienic problems and/or mobility issues. Unlike tummy tuck surgery, however, a panniculectomy does not treat concerns in the upper abdomen or involve the repair of abdominal musculature—both of which can be addressed in addition to lower abdominal skin/fat removal as part of an abdominoplasty. As a result, tummy tuck surgery is generally a more effective and comprehensive option for individuals seeking abdominal contouring after weight loss.

Most often, a panniculectomy is reserved for specific limited situations where it is the most expedient and “safe” choice as compared to other options or no surgery at all. This includes high surgical risk individuals such as those having significant medical problems or risks and those with extreme morbid obesity.

How Is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

An abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia. The typical incision is placed along the pubis, usually below the top of the hairline and extends out to the sides above the groin. It can incorporate a previous C-section scar and be designed to fit in the general bikini line area.

Surgery involves separation of skin and fat from the underlying muscle layer. The abdominal muscles are tightened and contoured so as to yield a flatter, firmer and often more narrow figure. The belly button is preserved and stabilized. Excess skin and fat are removed and the remaining skin is then re-draped on the newly sculpted abdomen.

Mini Tummy Tuck Surgery

In some situations, a mini tummy tuck may be more appropriate than a full abdominoplasty. A mini tummy tuck is designed to target lax and excess skin as well as bulging of the lower abdomen (below the belly button). The procedure involves the removal of extra skin and tightening of the underlying muscles if indicated. As a result of the limited area that is being addressed with this technique, a smaller incision is generally used as compared to a full tummy tuck. Furthermore, because this is a less extensive operation, postoperative discomfort is typically reduced and the general recovery period is often shorter.

The abdominoplasty technique that is ideal for you can be determined at the time of your consultation and is largely based on your goals and anatomy. Of course, the specific approach chosen is then precisely fine-tuned in order to meet your needs and to provide you with the best possible results.

What Is Recovery from Abdominoplasty Like?

Discomfort following an abdominoplasty can be significant for the first few days following surgery. Dr. Turkeltaub usually recommends staying twenty-four hours in an outpatient overnight facility. Patients will be far more comfortable, progress faster, have decreased risks for certain issues, and importantly, not create more undue stress on family members or friends.

At home, pain medication and muscle relaxants will help to minimize discomfort. It is crucial in the first few days that patients get out of bed several times and take short walks. This will also help lower the risk of blood clots developing in the legs. An elastic garment (binder) is worn around their abdomen for a few weeks after surgery that provides support and comfort as well as a sense of security.

Gentle exercises and activities in the first few weeks after surgery is encouraged. However, strenuous activities such as weight lifting and sit-ups are restricted for around eight weeks total though in the long-term there are no limitations whatsoever. For more explicit information on this, read: When Can You Resume Full Unrestricted Activities Following a Tummy Tuck?

What Will My Tummy Tuck Scars Look Like?

There are a number of factors that can affect the final appearance of tummy tuck scars. In addition to one’s natural healing process and genetic predisposition for scarring, these can include whether or not a full or mini abdominoplasty is performed, how much skin is removed, one’s general medical condition, which scar treatment products are utilized and how closely postoperative care instructions are followed.

The incision for a full tummy tuck is made along the pubis and extends outward above the groin. It is designed to be better concealed by most bikini and underwear varieties and can often incorporate an existing C-section scar for women who have undergone a cesarean delivery. The mini abdominoplasty incision is a shorter version of this. Consequently, it may allow for an even greater variety of clothes to be worn without being seen.

While the final length and width of abdominoplasty scarring will ultimately vary by individual, the vast majority of patients feel the benefits of tummy tuck surgery far outweigh any concerns regarding the ultimate scars.

Abdominoplasty After Pregnancy

A common aesthetic concern numerous women experience after having children is the noticeable bulge present in the mid and lower abdominal region. Immune to diet and exercise, this “pooch” can be so prominent in some cases that it causes a woman to still appear pregnant long after she gives birth.

Three factors are generally responsible for the development of a post-pregnancy bulge. These include:

While there is some degree of natural tissue tightening that occurs in the postpartum period, it is frequently not substantial enough to counteract the physical changes caused by expanding forces during pregnancy. Diet and exercise do not typically work to correct the condition either since irreversibly stretched skin and muscle tissue do not respond to these efforts.

The only effective solution for skin and muscle-related bulging of the abdomen after pregnancy (or any significant weight gain followed by a considerable loss) is tummy tuck surgery. During the abdominoplasty, stretched or separated muscles of the abdominal wall can be tightened/repaired and extra skin is eliminated. Additionally, when issues like an umbilical or ventral hernia are present, they can be surgically treated concurrently. Undesirable accumulations of fat may be able to be removed at the same time via liposuction.

What Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?

Based on patient submissions to RealSelf, the cost for tummy tuck surgery in the greater Phoenix area spans from $5,000 to $15,000, with an average price of $9,800. The reason for this broad range in pricing is due to the numerous components that factor into the total expense of treatment including even whether this is a full tummy tuck or a mini tummy tuck. Some of the most common elements that impact abdominoplasty cost include:

To obtain a personalized tummy tuck quote, Dr. Turkeltaub will need to meet with you in person to discuss your specific needs and goals and perform a physical evaluation. Based on the information gathered at this time, he can develop a customized treatment plan and provide a detailed breakdown of all expenses contributing to the overall cost of your abdominoplasty. If you wish to explore financing options to help pay for treatment, a knowledgeable member of our team can introduce you to CareCredit®, United Medical Credit and various other healthcare lenders that offer affordable monthly payment plans for cosmetic surgery.

Is a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Possible?

Although a variety of aesthetic procedures can be used to improve the appearance of the abdominal region, there is absolutely no non-surgical alternative to abdominoplasty. Treatments like CoolSculpting® and laser skin tightening are sometimes marketed as non-surgical tummy tuck alternatives but these techniques DO NOT remove (excess) skin or tighten the remaining skin with results anywhere near comparable to an abdominoplasty. In addition, they don’t address the stretched apart abdominal musculature that leads to the bulging of the abdomen in a majority of tummy tuck patients.

There may be certain instances in which non-surgical treatments can be used to address specific concerns in combination with abdominoplasty to enhance the final outcome, but tummy tuck surgery is the sole solution for excess skin/fat removal and muscle laxity repair in the abdomen.

At the time of your consultation, Dr. Turkeltaub can discuss all options with you and formulate a personalized treatment plan designed to yield the best outcome possible based on your needs and desires.

Abdominoplasty Before-and-After Photos*

Dr. Turkeltaub’s tummy tuck patients enjoy amazing and dramatic benefits from this powerful procedure. View the abdominoplasty results achieved by patients at our surgical centers below.

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*Individual Results May Vary

Tummy Tuck Patient Testimonials*

*Individual Results May Vary

For more information about an abdominoplasty, please read our tummy tuck FAQs (frequently asked questions) section.

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Dr. Steven Turkeltaub is committed to helping his patients look and feel their best. To schedule an appointment for tummy tuck surgery, please contact us online or by phone today.

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