Tummy Tuck

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As men and women age, the abdominal skin may become loose and fat may concentrate and become noticeable around the upper and lower stomach area. Some women who experienced pregnancy with one or multiple children may see their previously flat abdomen hang, sag, and covered with stretch marks. Their abdominal muscles may also have weakened and separated due to the baby growing and stretching the abdominal wall. Abdominoplasty, or the tummy tuck procedure, surgically removes the excess skin and fat, tightens the skin and abdominal muscles, and partially removes and flattens stretch marks.

Who are Good Candidates?

Many patients strive to achieve a flat and well-toned abdomen, and having a loose and sagging abdomen can cause deep self-conscious issues among both men and women. However, even with years of diet and exercise, the stomach skin and fat just may not go away without surgery, and even patients within a normal weight may have similar experiences.

The ideal candidate for the tummy tuck procedure has loose skin around the abdomen area caused by one or more of the following: rapid weight loss, aging, pregnancy, weight fluctuations, heredity, and prior surgery where the abdomen was cut into.

Patients should have idealistic expectations about their body image and maintain a positive outcome for their procedure. Those who are at a stable and healthy weight and do not plan on losing or gaining much weight in the future are also good candidates for the procedure. Lastly, patients should be aware that any future pregnancies may partially or fully reverse the tummy tuck, and should consider postponing the surgery until they are sure they are not having anymore children.

The Surgical Procedure

The procedure will be done under general anesthesia, and the patient will be asleep the entire time. The tummy tuck requires a relatively large incision for the procedure to be carried out. Called the “smile line”, the incision is horizontal and runs through the pubic hairline up into the sides of the hips. The length and shape of the incision is entirely determined by the severity of correction and shape of the patient. Generally, the incision is placed underneath bathing suit and underwear lines. The second incision needed is to loosen the belly button.

Once the incisions are placed, the loose skin is released from the abdominal wall and pulled down for removal. The skin is then removed, and the surgeon is able to tighten the abdominal wall by repairing the loose muscles with sutures. Excess fat may be removed with liposuction, and once a new navel is corrected, a drainage tube is inserted to release the buildup of fluids beneath the skin while healing. Once the surgeon is finished with correcting the abdomen area, the incision is closed up with sutures and/or skin adhesives.

Recovery and Results after the Procedure

Patients’ abdominal areas will be wrapped taut with bandages to reinforce the skin tightening and dressings will be applied to the incisions. Drainage tubes are usually removed within a few days after surgery, and sutures are usually removed within 7 to 10 days. It usually takes about 3 to 5 days of recovering before the patient can return home, but note that they should take at least 2 weeks to fully recover. Patients should also avoid heavy exercise and rigorous activities for at least 4 to 6 weeks to prevent recovery setbacks and potential complications. The area will be swollen for at least 2 weeks after surgery, so results may not be fully noticeable until the swelling decreases. However, once swelling has decreased, the patient’s abdomen area will appear tighter, firmer, and stretch marks may appear flattened or be partially removed.

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Procedure Details