Tummy Tucks Part I – Which Abdominoplasty Procedure is Right For You?

Fifteen years ago the tummy tuck – or “abdominoplasty” – wasn’t even in the Top 10 of aesthetic surgeries performed. But now with many Americans putting more effort into getting in shape and looking fit, we are paying more and more attention to our midriffs. Despite all our hard work to do the right things, sometimes eating healthy, controlling our weight, and working out just can’t give us the results we want due to the effects of weight loss, pregnancies, or aging. Tummy tucks are now the 3rd most common cosmetic surgery performed.

Many patients who come to see us for consultation are confused about what type of procedure would be best for them to improve their “ab” area. Is it a tummy tuck? Mini-tummy tuck? Liposuction? Body lift? Belt lipectomy? It seems confusing, but figuring out which cosmetic procedure you need may be easier than you think, and it all comes down to assessing 3 factors:

  • The skin – Is it loose? Are there stretch marks? Or is the skin smooth?
  • Fat deposits – Are there none, a little, or a lot?
  • The muscles – Have the muscles in the front of the tummy separated as a consequence of pregnancy or other factors? Is there a hernia?

If the skin of the abdomen is loose or has a poor appearance, then a tummy tuck can be used to remove the excess skin and fat. While a tummy tuck leaves a longer scar than liposuction, tummy tucks do something that liposuction cannot – dramatically tighten the skin. If there is little fat, liposuction alone (if the skin looks good) or liposuction in combination with a tummy tuck (if the skin is loose) is a common strategy. If the muscles have been stretched apart, then repair of the muscles is generally done as part of an abdominoplasty.

Patients often ask about a short scar or “mini-abdominoplasty”, and for some patients, these can be a great option. In some rare cases, an endoscopic abdominoplasty can be considered. Endoscopic abdominoplasty is a procedure which is performed using a small camera (an endoscope) that is attached to small surgical instruments, resulting in an even smaller scar than a mini-abdominoplasty. However, it’s important to remember that if scars are shorter, then less skin can be removed – resulting in less ability to tighten the abdominal skin. If you really need tightening, longer may be better!

The best time for women to have a tummy tuck is after they are done having children. For both men and women, it is also important to make sure you are at a reasonable, stable weight. Tummy tucks, liposuction, or even non-invasive body contouring like CoolSculpting work best when your weight is at a healthy level. Your Emory Aesthetic Center surgeon can help you figure out whether or not some weight loss before surgery would produce better results in your case.

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  • Tosha

    I would like information on a drainless tummy tuck and pricing?

    • Dr. Eaves


      Drainless tummy tucks use dissolvable, internal sutures placed at the time of surgery to keep fluid from accumulating at the surgery site rather than drains. The remainder of the procedure is essentially the same as with the various typical tummy tuck procedures, and liposuction can be combined as necessary. The fee for a tummy tuck is the same whether or not drains are used, but of course the overall cost depends on other factors such as the length of anesthesia or the amount of associated liposuction that the individual patient may need. A discussion with one of our patient care coordinators (404-778-6880) can help you get an idea of the range, and after a full consultation with an EAC physician, the coordinators can quote you specifically.