Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

What Is a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tuck surgery, medically referred to as abdominoplasty, has proven to be a very popular and effective procedure for individuals who are looking to achieve a firmer, flatter-looking abdomen. This treatment has helped millions of people get rid of excess skin in the abdominal area that is resistant to even the strictest diet and exercise routines. Dr. Eric Okamoto is an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon who has performed many tummy tuck surgeries with great success. In fact, our practice is now offering “no-drain” tummy tuck procedures. This advanced technique can be utilized for many patients, and ultimately helps make the recovery process more comfortable.
Dr. Okamoto will be happy to meet with you for an initial consultation to determine if tummy tuck surgery is the best option for your needs and goals.

What Are the Benefits of Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Tummy tuck surgery is designed to eliminate excess skin along the abdomen, pull the abdominal muscles taut, and tighten the remaining skin for a smoother and flatter appearance. The most common profile for someone seeking an abdominoplasty is a mother with a bulging abdomen who has no interest in future childbearing. Other potential candidates often include either a female or male with a history of substantial weight loss that has resulted in considerable abdominal wall laxity. Both conditions usually cause three soft tissue deformities in the abdominal zone. First, the rectus abdominis muscles, commonly referred to as the “abs,” become separated, leaving a gap in between. Second, skin is stretched beyond its elastic limits and is often scarred with “stretch marks.” Finally, varying amounts of excess fat is distributed in varying ways on the abdominal wall. A tummy tuck can address these concerns and renew the contours of your abdomen with beautiful results.

Who Is a Good Candidate for Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Tummy tuck surgery can often be an ideal procedure for both men and women who would like a firmer, more fit-looking abdomen. Patients affected by loose, excess skin and fat in the abdomen, as well as lax abdominal muscles, can typically benefit from this procedure. Candidates for abdominoplasty must be in reasonably good overall health at the time of surgery. Individuals who are interested in this treatment should also understand that tummy tuck surgery is not designed to be used as a tool to lose weight; in fact, patients should be at the average weight for their body types (or in close proximity) before undergoing this procedure. When Dr. Okamoto meets with you for the initial consultation, he will evaluate your needs and determine whether tummy tuck surgery is the best option for your goals.

Tummy Tuck Vs. Liposuction

Liposuction is often performed in tandem with tummy tuck surgery to eliminate excess fat cells that have accumulated in the area. If excess fat is the only factor causing the problem, then liposuction may be the only treatment necessary. With that in mind, if the problem in the abdominal area is caused by loose, inelastic skin and laxity affecting the underlying abdominal muscles, liposuction alone will not be able to address those concerns. A tummy tuck surgery is the only procedure that can successfully tighten the muscles and redrape the skin in this area to address excess skin and lax muscles.

Full Tummy Tuck vs. Mini Tummy Tuck

Full Tummy Tuck

Mini Tummy Tuck

A full tummy tuck is often a more ideal technique for patients who have a severe degree of muscle laxity and inelastic skin in the abdominal area. For patients who have a more moderate level of excess skin that is primarily located in the lower region of the abdomen (typically below the navel), a less invasive technique called a mini tummy tuck may be a good option. The “mini” combines aggressive liposuction of the entire abdominal wall incorporated with removal of lower abdominal skin. With that in mind, a mini tummy tuck can only be effective for certain patients, depending on the severity and location of their abdominal concerns. Dr. Okamoto can talk more with you about the differences between these two abdominoplasty techniques at your consultation.

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What Does the Tummy Tuck Procedure Involve?

Abdominoplasties convert flabby abdomens into firmer ones with smaller waistlines because they target the three factors mentioned in the above paragraph discussing the benefits of tummy tuck surgery. The separated “abs” are brought back together, tightening the abdominal floor and frequently reducing the waistline by several inches. A great deal of the excess skin is removed. In the usual case, almost all of the skin that can be grasped between your fingers and thumbs in your lower abdomen while sitting is typically removed. Finally, the majority of the fat in the lower abdomen is removed along with the overlying skin. Limited liposuction is also performed for certain parts of the abdominal wall as a part of the procedure. It should be noted that some parts of the abdomen cannot be safely liposuctioned without risking substantial healing problems. These areas will be mentioned during the consultation. Additional liposuction for other body parts can be scheduled at the same time as the abdominoplasty, e.g. flank and hip areas, but this is performed at extra cost when requested.

Abdominoplasty is not the only option for bulging bellies. Sometimes a simple liposuction or a “modified abdominoplasty” will achieve patient expectations. Hence, a consultation is necessary to demonstrate the problems at hand and the desired goals before possible solutions can be adequately explored.

What About Recovery from Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Recovery for an abdominoplasty varies according to the individual, but generally, most people take about three weeks off from work. However, full or nearly full recovery for the operation can take as long as six to eight weeks. Some level of bruising and swelling can be expected as the abdominal area heals after surgery; however, discomfort during the recovery process can be controlled with medication. You should avoid strenuous physical exercise or strain in the abdominal area for at least six weeks. Dr. Okamoto will talk more with you about recovery during the initial consultation, and he will address all of your questions and concerns.

Will There Be Extensive Scarring After Tummy Tuck Surgery?

A full tummy tuck surgery typically involves an incision made from hip to hip, above the pubic area, as well as an incision to free the navel during the procedure. The most visible scarring is usually below the bikini/panty line. Dr. Okamoto can provide silicone gel for scar healing, and scars from the procedure will likely fade somewhat over time. Additionally, they can generally be well-concealed under clothing (including swimwear). Dr. Okamoto will work diligently to minimize the appearance of scarring as much as possible.

If you are considering a facelift, I would highly recommend Dr. Okamoto. From the beginning he made sure that I understood what he would be doing. On the morning of my surgery, I felt a great deal of confidence and assurance that I was in good, experienced hands. Now, 6 months since, the comment that I’ve heard the most is how natural my face looks! Today, when I look in the mirror, I don’t see an old lady looking back! Thank you, Dr. Okamoto

Shari G.

Will I Have Tummy Tuck Drains?

Until recently, the temporary placement of drains after tummy tuck surgery was a standard part of the recovery process. The purpose of drains is to help rid the area of fluid build-up and aid healing. Unfortunately, they could also cause discomfort, decreased mobility during recovery from tummy tuck surgery, and general inconvenience due to the steps required to maintain them. The good news is, Dr. Okamoto now offers an advanced tummy tuck option that can provide patients with a “drainless” abdominoplasty.

State-of-the-art suturing techniques make it possible to eliminate the need for drains following tummy tuck surgery. While swelling in the abdominal area may take a bit longer to diminish without the drain, most patients find the post-operative recovery period to be easier and more comfortable.


How Long Does a Tummy Tuck Last?

If you maintain a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and a good diet, the results of tummy tuck surgery should last many years into the future. It’s important to keep your weight stable for as long as possible to reduce the potential for the abdominal muscles and skin to become lax again. In addition to healthy diet and exercise regimens, it is typically recommended that patients avoid sugary beverages, drink plenty of water, and reduce or eliminate consumption of alcohol. Maintaining healthy daily habits is often the best way to keep the results of tummy tuck surgery going for decades.

Tummy Tuck and Pregnancy

If you are planning on getting pregnant at a future date, or if you are unsure as to whether or not you are going to have children later in life, it is recommended that you wait to have tummy tuck surgery until you have completed your family. It is technically still possible to have a perfectly normal pregnancy after tummy tuck surgery; however, a pregnancy will stretch and potentially tear the abdominal muscles and may yield another accumulation of excess skin after the baby is born. This would require another abdominoplasty in order to address those concerns. For this reason, Dr. Okamoto typically advises women to be sure they no longer plan to bear children before undergoing tummy tuck surgery.

What Procedures Can Complement Tummy Tuck Surgery?

If you are looking for a more comprehensive makeover, tummy tuck surgery can be combined with liposuction, breast augmentation, and other body contouring procedures. It is also a popular option to include in a Mommy Makeover procedure. Dr. Okamoto can talk with you about your ultimate goals and discuss options that may serve to address other concerns you have in addition to those that can be resolved with tummy tuck surgery.

Are There Any Tummy Tuck Alternatives?

There is currently no surgical or non-surgical alternative to a tummy tuck that can provide the same kind of results. A variety of articles or advertisements may claim that certain exercises, non-surgical treatments, or devices (such as the Tummy Tuck Belt®) can yield similar outcomes to abdominoplasty; however, these options are not capable of doing what a tummy tuck is designed to do. Tummy tuck procedures remove excessive degrees of loose, inelastic skin and surgically tighten lax abdominal muscles. These are the conditions that typically lead to a protruding abdomen and undesirable contour and, in most cases, a surgical tummy tuck is often the only way to effectively improve contours and give the abdomen a firmer, tighter appearance. With that in mind, some patients may be primarily affected by excess fat in the abdomen rather than skin. In those instances, only liposuction may be required to successfully meet the patient’s goals. Dr. Okamoto can talk with you about the best options for your individual needs once your concerns have been evaluated.

Research Studies

For the past two years, Dr. Okamoto has been a primary investigator for two research companies that have been interested in testing the portion of the abdominal skin destined to be thrown away after a tummy tuck procedure. When patients qualify, they come to the office for two to four hours and a variety of tests are performed on their skin. Sometimes, the skin is temporarily disfigured during this process, but this is the portion of skin that will ultimately be discarded during tummy tuck surgery. Individuals who are chosen for the studies are eligible for a discount on their tummy tuck surgery. If you are interested in participating, Dr. Okamoto can talk more with you about the studies during your initial consultation.

For more information on tummy tuck surgery, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Eric Okamoto, please contact Fremont Plastic Surgery.

Additional Frequently Asked Questions About Tummy Tuck Surgery

Does insurance cover tummy tuck surgery?

Health insurance policies do not typically offer coverage for tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) procedures since they are considered an elective cosmetic treatment. Fortunately, our practice accepts numerous popular payment methods to help make the cost of treatment as convenient as possible. These options include plastic surgery financing plans from a reputable lending firm that can provide qualified applicants with the ability to pay for tummy tuck treatment in monthly installments.

Is a tummy tuck safe?

When performed by an experienced and highly qualified plastic surgeon, tummy tuck surgery is considered to be a safe procedure. However, it is important to remember that no surgical procedure is without risk, and complications (although rare) are not impossible. Infection, excessive bleeding, inadequate wound healing, changes in the sensation of the skin in the treatment area, and asymmetrical contours are a few of the potential risks of complications associated with tummy tuck surgery. With this in mind, Dr. Okamoto is extensively trained and experienced with this procedure and works diligently to minimize these risks. He is also a board-certified plastic surgeon, which is indicative of an exceptional adherence to very high standards of safety during all of his surgical procedures. Dr. Okamoto will explain all risks of this surgery during your initial consultation and will be happy to address any concerns you may have.

How painful is a tummy tuck?

While some degree of discomfort can be expected after virtually any major surgery, Dr. Okamoto will provide detailed post-operative instructions that can help keep pain to a minimum following the tummy tuck procedure. Bruising and swelling in the treatment area is common for several days after tummy tuck surgery; however, pain relief medicine can help alleviate discomfort from these effects. Dr. Okamoto utilizes a “drainless” tummy tuck technique, which involves a special suturing approach that eliminates the need to place drains in the abdominal area after surgery. This technique can ultimately help patients heal a bit more comfortably in the days and weeks following treatment.

Does a tummy tuck get rid of stretch marks?

A tummy tuck does have the ability to get rid of stretch marks depending on exactly where they are present in the abdomen. Generally, if the stretch marks are located under the navel and where skin will be excised as part of the tummy tuck surgery, then they will be eliminated. Once Dr. Okamoto examines you, he can determine whether the stretch marks are occurring in an area of skin that will be removed during the surgery.

What is seroma after a tummy tuck?

A seroma is an unlikely side effect of tummy tuck surgery. Characterized by a build-up of fluid (“serum”) under the skin, a seroma typically looks like a bump or a lump near the incision locations. This can happen because of tissue manipulation or removal during surgery. A seroma is usually very small and frequently fades away on its own in a few weeks, but larger seromas may become painful. In those cases, the seroma will need to be evaluated and treated. Additionally, if the seroma(s) is accompanied by a fever, chills, and/or irregular heartbeat, those symptoms may be an indication that the seroma has become infected and will require immediate medical care.

Is a tummy tuck different from a panniculectomy?

A tummy tuck is quite distinct from a panniculectomy. Tummy tuck surgery is designed to treat patients seeking cosmetic improvement in the abdominal area, whereas a panniculectomy is primarily a medically-necessary procedure to remove what’s known as an “apron” or “flap” of excess skin in the abdominal region that is causing skin conditions and/or discomfort. Those conditions can include rashes, chafing, irritation, excessive perspiration, and other concerns that may necessitate a medical procedure such as panniculectomy to correct them. Additionally, a panniculectomy only addresses excess abdominal skin, whereas a tummy tuck addresses both excess skin and lax abdominal musculature.

What can I do to prolong the results of tummy tuck surgery?

Leading a healthy lifestyle complete with a regular exercise routine and a nutritious diet is the best thing you can do to help maintain the results of tummy tuck surgery long into the future. The natural aging process will continue to have an effect on the skin; however, it is weight fluctuations that typically have a more pronounced effect on abdominal contours. Limiting weight fluctuation over time can help prolong tummy tuck outcomes. With that in mind, it is also recommended to undergo this procedure after you have completed your family, as pregnancy can cause the abdominal muscles to stretch and tear, and ultimately reverse some of the benefits afforded by tummy tuck surgery.

What can I eat after tummy tuck surgery?

There are not many food restrictions during the recovery process after tummy tuck surgery; however, maintaining a light diet and sticking with certain foods and beverages can be helpful as the treatment area heals. Be sure to drink lots of water and refrain from drinking liquids that are not clear. While an individual’s normal diet can typically be resumed in a relatively short time following the procedure, soft foods will likely be recommended in the days after surgery, gradually moving on to items that patients usually include in their regular diets. It is also important to stick to a healthy diet long after the procedure in order to maintain results for as long as possible. Our team will provide you with more information on dietary guidelines following tummy tuck surgery that can help during the recovery process.

When can I exercise after tummy tuck surgery?

Dr. Okamoto typically recommends that patients avoid most types of exercise for a minimum of six weeks after tummy tuck surgery; however, early movement – such as regular light walks to keep the blood circulating – is important. Based on each patient’s unique needs, Dr. Okamoto will provide advice on when low-intensity exercises and more strenuous routines can be introduced following surgery.

What should I look for in a tummy tuck surgeon?

When evaluating prospective plastic surgeons to perform tummy tuck surgery, it is best to choose one who is board-certified and has extensive experience with abdominoplasty procedures. Taking a look at the surgeon’s biography>, viewing before-and-after photos, and reading patient reviews can be helpful in formulating an idea of the doctor’s capabilities and approach to care. Then, it is necessary to schedule a consultation with the surgeon and determine your level of confidence and comfort with their approach. You should always feel that the surgeon is listening attentively and addressing all questions and concerns thoroughly.

For more information on tummy tuck surgery, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Eric Okamoto, please contact Fremont Plastic Surgery.