Tummy Tuck FAQ: 7 Questions to Consider Asking at Your Consultation

If you are considering Northern California plastic surgery to tighten your abdomen and sculpt your midsection, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), may be the perfect procedure. The procedure removes excess skin and fat and helps you reveal a slimmer, more youthful shape; a tummy tuck also offers physical health benefits: it repairs diastasis recti and helps support fitness goals.

Restoring your midsection is exciting to think about but it’s important to ask questions to fully understand recommended procedures and recovery requirements, and learn what you and your surgeon can each do to safely achieve the results you desire.

To empower you in your process, the surgeons at Plastic Surgery Associates in Santa Rosa are sharing answers to 7 key questions patients frequently ask in tummy tuck consultations.

  1. Do I need a tummy tuck? Can I have liposuction instead?
  2. What tummy tuck technique do you recommend?
  3. Where will my tummy tuck scars be?
  4. Will I have drains after my abdominoplasty in Santa Rosa?
  5. When can I go back to work after a tummy tuck?
  6. What childcare will I need after a tummy tuck?
  7. What is your plastic surgery training and certification?

Do I need a tummy tuck? Can I have liposuction instead?

There are two main determinants that may lead us to recommend a tummy tuck over liposuction alone: excess skin, and separated abdominal muscles (diastasis recti).

If you are bothered by the shape of your midsection, but it feels firm overall, liposuction may be recommended to achieve your desired look. However, liposuction will not be adequate for creating a toned look if you have any sagging skin: the skin’s ability to bounce back is critical to good liposuction results.

Abdominal muscle separation also affects the shape of the belly and cannot be treated by liposuction. If, in profile, your abdomen bows out, it is likely you have some level of diastasis recti and will benefit from an abdominoplasty’s ability to reattach separated muscles.

While liposuction is not a substitute for abdominoplasty, the best tummy tuck results typically come from incorporating liposuction into the procedure plan. The combination can achieve more refined and complete results; adding liposuction can also help you reduce the chance of experiencing seroma post-tummy tuck.

Studies show seroma rates after tummy tuck vary between 1-50%—adding liposuction to a tummy tuck procedure showed a seroma rate of only 8.8% while avoiding postoperative recovery drains.

What tummy tuck technique do you recommend?

Tummy tuck procedures should be highly personalized to optimize results but there are a few primary techniques, ranging from least invasive to most transformative. Your plastic surgeon should fully explain the surgical plan they are recommending and why it will be a fitting way to treat your concerns.

During your tummy tuck consultation, you will likely hear about one or more of the following options:

  • Modified or mini tummy tuck. Patients with minimal excess skin concerns (typically concentrated in the lower belly) can enjoy the benefits of a tummy tuck with a shorter incision and quicker recovery.
  • Traditional tummy tuck. This classic version of the procedure removes excess skin and fat from the abdomen while also repairing abdominal separation, providing a renewed overall shape. A more advanced version of the technique, using progressive tension sutures, can eliminate the need for postoperative drains.
  • Extended tummy tuck. This technique typically benefits patients who wish to remove skin and fat from their whole midsection. Skin and fat are excised from the abdomen, flanks, and back. The abdominal muscles are also repaired and tightened.
  • Other body lifting procedures. Post-weight loss skin tightening can address loose skin areas beyond the abdomen by incorporating complementary procedures such as a body lift, arm lift, thigh lift, or breast lift. Treating multiple areas at once can provide more harmonious and transformative results.

Where will my tummy tuck scars be?

Typically, you will have a scar along your lower abdomen and a small, additional scar at your navel, which is incorporated with the belly button. Scars will initially be obvious but will flatten and fade considerably by about the 12 month mark and continue to improve over time.

A traditional tummy tuck, which achieves the results shown in these before and after photos, requires a gently curved incision extending from hip to hip. This is placed well below the bikini line and, depending on the technique, will vary in length. You should ask your plastic surgeon to show you exactly where this incision will start and end so you can be sure you are comfortable with the placement of this scar.

The additional incision at your navel allows for repositioning the skin around your belly button after unwanted skin is excised and the remaining skin is pulled taut. Be sure you understand the approach your plastic surgeon will take in this area, and that you are confident they can create a natural-looking belly button without obvious scarring.

Avoiding unattractive scarring after tummy tuck also depends on you practicing self-care: patients can achieve optimal results after their Santa Rosa tummy tuck by diligently following all postoperative care instructions, avoiding straining incisions, and using proper scar care.

Will I have drains after my abdominoplasty in Santa Rosa?

This is a key question to ask as answers will vary among plastic surgeons: some still use only older tummy tuck techniques in which a drain is best placed for healing.

However, it is important for patients to know that drains are not required after a tummy tuck: advances in tummy tuck techniques and the use of progressive tension sutures allow our Santa Rosa plastic surgeons to offer a drainless tummy tuck. Progressive tension sutures not only eliminate the need for drains, they benefit tummy tuck patients by:

  • Reducing infection and pain associated with drains
  • Reducing tension on the incision, improving flap perfusion and scarring
  • Reducing complications including seromas and hematomas

When can I go back to work after a tummy tuck?

In most cases, patients may return to light work after two weeks of rest, however, you should avoid bending and twisting for a minimum of 4-6 weeks to protect the internal sutures supporting your abdominal muscles. You will likely feel more like yourself at the end of the second week but still must resist the temptation to exert yourself. Following recovery guidelines to the letter will help optimize your tummy tuck results and prevent recovery setbacks.

What childcare will I need after a tummy tuck?

We understand it can be difficult to “switch off” from parenting but rest is critical to recovery; especially in the first few days after surgery, some patients find it is easier to have their children stay with family or friends. If you have younger children, you may need to plan for up to 4-6 weeks of child care assistance as you should not lift anything over 5-10 lbs during that time. (Lifting a child or heavy object can strain your incisions and/or damage newly repaired abdominal muscles.)

What is your plastic surgery training and certification?

A physician can become board certified in a variety of specialties so, when it comes to a tummy tuck or any plastic surgery procedure, it is paramount that you ask this question and only choose a surgeon who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). Certification is voluntary and ABPS members must have:

  • Passed comprehensive oral and written exams
  • Graduated from an accredited medical school
  • Completed a minimum of 6 years of additional training in an ACGME accredited residency program with 3 of those years dedicated exclusively to plastic surgery training
  • Completed continuous certification to demonstrate a commitment to learning and practice improvement

Here at our Santa Rosa plastic surgery center, Dr. Heather Furnas, Dr. Francisco Canales, and Dr. Eric Culbertson are all certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery (ABPS). This certification demonstrates that our plastic surgeons meet the highest standards in their specialty, plus stay abreast of the latest clinical research and surgical techniques to safely treat patients and achieve highly-satisfactory results.

“One advantage we have as being board certified plastic surgeons is that we can offer the gamut as far as surgical and non-surgical procedures.” – Dr. Heather Furnas

Schedule your tummy tuck consultation with our Santa Rosa plastic surgery practice

Now that you understand important questions to ask, book your tummy tuck consultation with one of our expert plastic surgeons. Plastic Surgery Associates offers a range of comprehensive surgical and non-surgical procedures to patients in northern California, and regularly welcome out-of-town patients to their practice. Our surgeons would be pleased to meet with you, discuss your goals, and develop a treatment plan to achieve safe, restorative plastic surgery results. We invite you to schedule a consultation online or call our practice at 707-537-2111.

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