Who Is a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?

Age, pregnancy, and significant fluctuations in weight can result in stubborn pockets of abdominal fat and drooping skin below the navel that are resistant to diet and exercise.

In addition, some individuals who have been pregnant or experienced significant weight gain may experience a condition known as diastasis recti, which occurs when the connective tissue of the abdominal muscles (linea alba) becomes torn or damaged. Diastasis recti can cause a bulge down the midline of the abdomen and may also cause additional issues, such as chronic pain and a weakened core.

A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes these excess pockets of fat and repairs the damage caused by diastasis recti.

The tummy tuck procedure

During a tummy tuck, a skilled plastic surgeon will make a horizontal, hip-to-hip incision just above the pubic area. The surgeon will then trim away excess skin and use liposuction to remove stubborn fat from the abdomen. The skin of the abdomen is then tightened and reattached at the incision point.

In some cases, a second incision may also be made so that the navel may be repositioned after the skin has been tightened. If diastasis recti is present, the surgeon will also use permanent sutures to repair the damaged abdominal tissue before closing the incision.

Benefits of having a tummy tuck

A tummy tuck can offer patients a number of aesthetic and medical benefits, including all of the following.

Increased confidence and self-esteem

An abdominoplasty procedure can reduce the appearance of stretch marks and lend a flatter, more toned appearance to the abdomen. For individuals who experience drooping skin and stubborn pockets of abdominal fat, the aesthetic benefits of a tummy tuck may allow for improved confidence and self-image.

Improved posture and reduced pain

The weakened abdominal muscles associated with diastasis recti can also result in poor posture and chronic back pain. By repairing the damaged tissue with permanent sutures, a tummy tuck can restore core strength, improve posture, and lessen chronic pain.

Reduced risk of ventral hernias and other health complications

Diastasis recti can also cause the development of ventral hernias, due to weakness of the tissue. A tummy tuck can reduce the risk of these complications by repairing the damage caused by diastasis recti and restoring the abdominal muscles to their previous positioning.

Am I a good candidate for a tummy tuck?

Generally speaking, the best candidates for a tummy tuck procedure are healthy non-smokers who are close to their ideal body weight and have stubborn deposits of fat or drooping skin on their abdomen.

Nicotine intake and significant weight fluctuations can both interfere with the long-term results of a tummy tuck. Therefore, it is a necessity to quit smoking and wait until you are stable within 5 pounds of your preferred body weight before you choose to undergo an abdominoplasty.

It may also be a good idea to wait until you are sure you are done having children, since additional pregnancies may undo many of a tummy tuck’s benefits.

Eating a healthy diet and carefully following your surgeon’s post-operative instructions are also key to ensuring optimal recovery and long-lasting results.

With that said, you may wish to consider a tummy tuck if any of the following apply to you.

You experience drooping skin or stubborn pockets of fat on your stomach

A tummy tuck removes stubborn, exercise-resistant pockets of fat and also trims away extra skin that may cause drooping below the navel.

If you have already tried making significant changes to your diet and exercise but haven’t seen a significant change in the appearance of your midsection, a tummy tuck may allow you to achieve a slimmer, more toned appearance. These aesthetic benefits alone may be enough reason to pursue an abdominoplasty for many people.

You want to regain your pre-pregnancy body after childbirth

If you have had children previously, your body may have experienced several significant changes, including fluctuations in weight and damaged abdominal muscles. For some women, this may lead to a feeling of having “lost” their body.

Physical changes following childbirth are sometimes resistant to ordinary diet and exercise, especially if you are experiencing diastasis recti. However, a tummy tuck can help to restore the slimmer, more contoured appearance your stomach had prior to having children.

Your belly has a genetically predisposed formation

Some individuals are genetically predisposed to have a particular abdominal shape, no matter how much exercise or dieting they do. If you experience a protruding midsection, it may simply be caused by your genetics, rather than pregnancy, weight gain, or overall health.

A tummy tuck may be able to help you achieve the toned core you desire, even if your genetics have prevented you from achieving it in the past.

Request a consultation with an experienced plastic surgeon

If you believe that you may be a good candidate for a tummy tuck, your first step should be to request a consultation with an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. In particular, you should look for a plastic surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and offers a robust portfolio of before-and-after photos so you can review and assess their previous work.

An experienced, ABPS-certified plastic surgeon will be able to help you determine if you are a good fit for a tummy tuck, walk you through your options for surgery, help you to set realistic expectations for the procedure, and guide you through the full recovery process.