Home/Body Plastic Surgery/Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

After the wonderful experiences of losing weight or having children, many individuals are left with the aftermath of an abdomen that has been stretched out of shape. Patients have trouble returning to the nice flat contour that they desire. This often leads to a common aesthetic concern shared by a diverse range of patients — excess skin and loose muscles in the abdomen resulting from weight fluctuation, pregnancy, or the aging process. While a healthy diet and consistent fitness program are very important in maintaining a great figure, an active lifestyle cannot tighten redundant skin or repair the stretched muscle separation — known as diastasis recti — that occurs after pregnancy or massive weight gain (and loss). Many women and men struggle with attaining the flat and smooth look they desire in the abdomen.

Living with the confidence of knowing you look as great as you feel is still possible with tummy tuck surgery, an extremely effective body sculpting procedure offered by our Santa Barbara board-certified plastic surgeon. Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck can transform your lower body contours by reshaping the abdomen, slimming the waistline, and restoring separated muscles to their original positioning. The final result can not only provide the benefits of a more positive body image and sense of self-confidence, but also often leads to a better fit in clothing and less irritation and inflammation caused by excess skin. Dr. Wesley Schooler, a renowned aesthetic plastic surgeon in Central and Southern California, carefully assesses your individual needs and unique goals to create a custom tummy tuck plan tailored specifically for you.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure designed to provide a flatter, smoother, and more sculpted abdomen by repairing separated muscles, trimming loose skin, and reducing excess fat buildup. While virtually impossible to resolve naturally, loose excess skin in the midsection can be addressed with a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). The toll of childbearing can be seen in stretched out abdominal muscle layers, causing a look of permanent pregnancy that is often refractory to exercises attempting to strengthen the muscles. Excess subcutaneous fat in the abdomen, hips, and back can be addressed often with liposculpture. Although the tummy tuck procedure is much more comprehensive than liposuction, the two are frequently combined to more effectively re-contour the stomach and torso region. This can allow an all-encompassing surgery to eliminate excess skin and fat as well as to repair the muscle layer, providing a tighter, flatter abdominal appearance so that patients can wear that form-fitting summer dress or show off their six-pack.

What Can a Tummy Tuck Do?

A tummy tuck is considered a highly effective body contouring procedure that can slim the waistline while firming and smoothing the appearance of the midsection. Not only can abdominoplasty remove excess skin, but the procedure is also designed to tighten separated abdominal musculature— this can improve the look of a hanging or protruding abdomen. In general, a tummy tuck is performed to:

  • Tighten muscles in the abdomen for an improved abdominal contour
  • Remove excess skin, creating a smoother and flatter abdomen and waistline
  • Eliminate some degree of stubborn fat in the abdomen
  • Reshape the belly button, if necessary

With the ability to bring together loose or stretched abdominal muscles, a tummy tuck is popularly incorporated into a Mommy Makeover. This customized series of treatments is designed to address the areas commonly affected by pregnancy and nursing, often with the goal of restoring a patient’s pre-pregnancy figure. If you are interested in a Mommy Makeover, Dr. Schooler can examine your concerns and work with you to develop the best treatment plan for your needs.

How is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

The spectrum of procedures that encompass the term “tummy tuck” ranges from very minor procedures to extensive circumferential body lifts. The extent of required surgery to give you a beautiful abdominal contour will be recommended during your consultation, and a personal treatment plan will be created.

Our experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon at the Santa Barbara Plastic Surgery Center, Dr. Wesley Schooler, has continued to incorporate the latest techniques to give you a beautiful abdominal contour with minimal downtime as well as a speedy recovery and return to normal activities. He will create a skin flap along the abdominal region and eliminate the excess skin and fat. He will then tighten the muscles of the abdomen, pulling them taut, and advance the skin flap from the belly button level to the suprapubic area, creating a much firmer and fit-looking appearance. The entire procedure typically lasts three to six hours, depending on the extent of the tummy tuck. This treatment is usually performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia.

Belly Button Revision

The belly button can alter its shape over time due to a number of factors, such as weight fluctuation, pregnancy, hernias, stretch marks after pregnancy or other reasons. A belly button revision surgery can reshape its appearance to make the look of the naval more aesthetically favorable. Belly button reshaping is an integral part of a tummy tuck. Occasionally, an isolated belly button reshaping procedure is a good option. If interested, our plastic surgeon can transform “outies” into “innies” with this effective procedure.

Combining a Tummy Tuck with Other Procedures

As techniques have advanced, tummy tuck surgery and many other exciting aesthetic techniques have become more popular. Body sculpting SAFELipo® is frequently combined with the tummy tuck procedure. We have also combined fat grafting with the Brazilian Butt Lift in women and abdominal muscle enhancement in men with great results. Dr. Schooler will give you a personalized assessment and recommendations for good combination procedures for you.

What is Recovery From a Tummy Tuck Like?

We measure you and order a custom garment to help with edema management and post-operative body shaping. Your safety as a patient is the greatest priority immediately after surgery. We usually use a binder to help shape the abdomen while ensuring it’s not too tight to improve circulation of the torso. Our surgical team also sends you home with sequential compression devices, or leg squeezers for the legs to prevent deep venous thrombosis. We use Exparel®, a long-acting injectable medication to decrease post-operative pain for the first 24 hours. We use the minimal or no-drain technique and employ several other approaches to minimize drains. For the first 1 to 2 days after surgery, you are provided a compression garment, which is worn to reduce swelling and facilitate the healing of your new body contours. Dr. Schooler will sometimes encourage oral supplements such as Arnica® to reduce bruising, and prescribe medications for excessive post-operative swelling as well as analgesics for discomfort. We employ the latest rapid recovery protocols to facilitate a speedy recovery with minimal pain and minimal narcotic use. Immediately after the tummy tuck, patients are encouraged to sit on a recliner in a beach chair position or sleep with 2 to 3 pillows elevating the head for the first week. While plenty of rest is strongly encouraged after a tummy tuck, walking around periodically and light ambulation four times per day can help prevent blood clots during the healing process. When getting around, you may need to walk with a slight bend in the hips for the first few days. Most patients can return to their normal schedules within 10 days to two weeks; however, exercise and strenuous activity should be avoided for at least four weeks, and heavy core workouts held for 6 weeks. Dr. Schooler will discuss your unique recovery strategy in more detail with you in person.

How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?

A tummy tuck is customized according to the extent of your individual anatomy and concerns, with the cost of the procedure similarly personalized. Factors that often affect the price of a tummy tuck include the technique used, the amount of surgical work to be done, and your aesthetic goals, as well as fees for the surgeon, anesthesia, and operating facility. Any hernias identified before or during surgery are addressed at the same time as surgery, and that portion of the procedure is considered a separate procedure subject to standard insurance practices. Once Dr. Schooler assesses your needs in a consultation, our Patient Care Coordinator will be able to provide you with a personalized quote of your aesthetic procedure.

We offer a number of different payment options, including plastic surgery financing through trusted healthcare lending companies such as CareCredit® and Alphaeon™ Credit. These leading financial institutions allow qualified applicants to choose from a range of low- to no-interest payment plans for the option that suits their budget most ideally. If you would like to learn more about the cost of a tummy tuck, please contact our practice to speak to a member of our team.

Your Tummy Tuck Consultation

During your tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) consultation, our plastic surgeon will meet with you on a one-on-one basis to discuss all aspects of the procedure and your individual goals. The consultation will include photographic analysis and a 3D virtual reality simulation to visualize your post-operative potential. Our surgeon encourages you to ask any questions you may have and will address all of your concerns. With any type of surgery, you should be certain that you are working with a skilled, experienced, board-certified aesthetic plastic surgeon. Dr. Schooler is excited to discuss your goals with you and ensure you feel confident you’re in the right hands.

How Long Do Tummy Tuck Results Last?

A tummy tuck permanently removes excess skin from the abdominal area, resulting in a flatter and firmer abdomen. While the aging process will continue, the outcome of the procedure can last indefinitely as long as patients maintain a stable weight. Certain factors, such as weight gain and pregnancy, can re-stretch the skin and weaken the abdominal musculature; therefore, undergoing a tummy tuck only after you’re at your ideal weight and have no future plans for pregnancy is key to preserving abdominoplasty results.

No matter what type of tummy tuck procedure was performed, the best way to prolong the longevity of your tummy tuck is to live an active lifestyle. Weight gain can cause fat to accumulate around the midsection and potentially alter the sleek body contours achieved after surgery. Exercising and keeping up with a healthy diet can help manage weight and ensure the shape of the abdomen remains stable in the future.

Will I Have a Visible Tummy Tuck Scar?

The shape and size of your tummy tuck scar will depend on which procedure was the most optimal technique to achieve your goals. For example, a mini tummy tuck requires shorter incisions than a full abdominoplasty, so the resulting scar will be less extensive when compared to a standard tummy tuck. While all surgical procedures will produce some amount of scarring, the scars left after a tummy tuck can easily be covered by a swimsuit bottom or underwear. Dr. Schooler will show you where your scars are most likely to appear so you know what to expect after the procedure. He will also provide you with detailed aftercare instructions that can promote the best possible healing of your incisions, thereby maximizing the appearance of your scars and encouraging them to lighten somewhat over time.

Additional Tummy Tuck FAQs

  • Can a tummy tuck improve a C-section scar?

    Abdominoplasty will require an incision along the lower pubis, often just below a previous C-section scar. Depending on your needs and the type of tummy tuck performed, Dr. Schooler may be able to remove a C-section scar; however, keep in mind scarring from tummy tuck surgery is unavoidable. Alternatively, Dr. Schooler also may be able to place an abdominoplasty incision in the same location as your old C-section scar, allowing you to avoid additional scarring on the abdomen. He will thoroughly explain what you can expect when he evaluates your concerns in a consultation. In any case, tummy tuck scars can typically be well-hidden beneath underwear and bikini bottoms.

  • Will abdominoplasty get rid of stretch marks?

    It’s certainly possible for a tummy tuck to get rid of stretch marks, depending on the type of abdominoplasty procedure performed. Generally speaking, it’s more likely that a tummy tuck removes stretch marks if they’re predominantly located beneath the belly button. This area is usually where excess skin accumulates, increasing the likelihood that a tummy tuck will be able to remove your stretch marks along with loose, excess skin. After assessing the location of your stretch marks in a consultation, Dr. Schooler can let you know whether stretch mark removal is possible during the procedure.

  • Can I gain weight after a tummy tuck?

    Yes, it’s possible for patients to gain weight after abdominoplasty. While the procedure can remove excess skin and fat in the belly, nothing about a tummy tuck prevents future weight gain. In order to maximize the results of your tummy tuck, we strongly recommend maintaining an active life following surgery with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Gaining weight after the procedure can not only change the outcome of surgery, but it may also recreate the same concerns you originally sought to improve.

  • Does a male tummy tuck differ from a female tummy tuck?

    A tummy tuck is personalized according to the needs, concerns, and goals of each patient. While abdominoplasty procedures generally tighten loose skin and abdominal muscles, the techniques utilized during a tummy tuck are customized to obtain the most natural-looking results for each person. For example, men who seek out tummy tuck surgery usually desire sharper, less curvy contours, whereas women may want a softer or more sensual figure. Dr. Schooler will listen closely to your goals and develop the most optimal treatment plan to achieve your desired contours.

  • How do I know if I should get a mini tummy tuck?

    Discussing your goals with a board-certified plastic surgeon can confirm whether or not a mini tummy tuck is the best option for you. If the skin laxity on your abdomen is more mild, a mini abdominoplasty may be enough to smooth the abdominal contour. This shortened version of a full tummy tuck removes excess skin on the lower abdomen, but does not bring together separated abdominal muscles. That said, mini abdominoplasty is usually most successful for individuals who do not exhibit stretched internal musculature.

For more information on tummy tuck surgery or body reshaping, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact us today.