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Excess Body Fat

What Does Tummy Tuck Treat?

One complaint that our plastic surgeons commonly hear from patients is that they are frustrated that no matter how faithfully they follow a healthy diet and exercise program, they cannot attain a firm, flat abdomen. In many instances, it is not the patient’s fault.

Over time, the body gradually stops producing collagen and elastin, two proteins that are necessary for healthy skin. As this happens, the skin loses its elastic quality, causing it to sag. Major weight loss and pregnancy can compound this problem. Often, once the skin is greatly stretched, it cannot return to a smaller size or shape, no matter how frequently an individual exercises and how consistently he or she eats nutritious meals. In addition, pregnancy can cause a woman’s abdominal muscles to become separated or severely weakened (i.e., rectus diastasis), so some women cannot tone their midsection, despite all their efforts.

Thankfully, our plastic surgeons perform abdominoplasty, or “tummy tuck” surgery in Northern California, to address sagging abdominal skin, separated abdominal muscles and stubborn fat throughout the midsection.

Who Is a Suitable Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?

Prospective abdominoplasty patients should only trust a board-certified plastic surgeon to establish tummy tuck candidacy. That said,

suitable  candidates for tummy tuck usually include individuals who:

  • Have loose, sagging skin throughout their midsection
  • Have separated or extremely weakened abdominal muscles, often due to pregnancy
  • Have tried to improve the look of their abdomen by following a healthy diet and exercise routine, but to no avail
  • Are at or just slightly above their ideal body weight, and feel that they can maintain this weight after surgery
  • Are not pregnant and do not plan to become pregnant again (as pregnancy can counteract the aesthetic results of tummy tuck)
  • Have a positive self-image overall, but are frustrated with the appearance of their midsection
  • Are in good physical and mental health, in general
  • Have realistic expectations for the outcome of surgery, and understand both the advantages and disadvantages of tummy tuck
  • Are considering tummy tuck of their own volition

The Tummy Tuck Procedure

What to Expect from Tummy Tuck Surgery in Northern California

Tummy tuck is an outpatient surgical procedure, performed under general anesthesia. If the patient requires liposuction during his or her tummy tuck procedure, our surgeons performs this first.

Our surgeons make a horizontal incision across the lower abdomen, extending from one hipbone to the other. Although the required incision is significant, our surgeons strategically position it in an area that can be easily concealed by underwear or a bathing suit.

Our plastic surgeons eliminate excess skin before repairing the damaged abdominal muscles, using internal sutures to create a firm abdominal profile and to hold the restored stomach muscles in place.

The surgeons then pull the remaining skin taut and repositions the navel (belly button) to align with the new contour of the abdomen. The surgeons then close the incision with stitches and dress the treated area with bandages. Liposuction of the abdomen and flanks is frequently performed at the time of tummy tuck surgery to enhance the result further.

Recovering from Surgery

Before tummy tuck surgery, patients receive complete pre- and post-operative care instructions. Following abdominoplasty with BSI surgeons:

  • Individuals should expect to take about two weeks off from work or their normal routine.
  • Many patients require the use of pain medications for a short period of time. 
  • Patients might experience swelling and bruising in the treated area, as well as pain, discomfort, numbness or a tingling sensation throughout the abdomen.  
  • Patients can gradually resume their usual exercise regimen as directed by their surgeon. They should avoid crunches or other stomach exercises for at least six weeks after surgery.
  • Patients are required to wear a compression garment over the midsection for four weeks following the procedure.
  • Some of the aesthetic results of tummy tuck are visible immediately, but it takes about six months for the swelling to subside completely and for the full results to become realized.

 Recovery Chart


Patient’s preoperative testing is reviewed. Patient will have filled prescriptions for pain medications, antibiotics and muscle relaxants. Meet with your surgeon, our anesthesiologist and nurses.


A typically abdominoplasty with liposuction contouring of the flanks takes between 2 and 2.5 hours. Patient receives an intravenous antibiotic prior to beginning procedure.

Recovery Room

Approximately 1 hour – you must be sent home with a responsible adult who should plan on spending the night with you.

After Surgery

Patients are sent home in a binder or corset with 2 drains in place. The drains should be emptied as needed. Patients should be ambulating to go to the bathroom but limited to walking around the house.

Postoperative Visit #1

Typically 5-7 days after surgery. Incisions are checked and drains are removed. Patient continues in an abdominal binder. You are permitted to shower after this visit.

Postoperative Visit #2

Typically 12-14 days after surgery. Incisions are checked. Sutures are trimmed if needed. Most patients are able to return to a desk job if needed.

Postoperative Visit #3

Usually about three weeks after surgery. Compression binder or garment can be removed if desired. Able to begin light walking on treadmill. No exercises that engage “core” musculature – no sit ups, cronches or planks! Begin silicone scar therapy.

Postoperative Visit #4

Patient’s are typically seen 3-4 months after surgery and then yearly.

How Much Does Tummy Tuck Cost?

The comprehensive cost of tummy tuck may can vary depending on: a patient’s unique body type and how complex his or her anatomical needs are; the desired aesthetic goals for surgery; and if liposuction is required with the procedure. However, the basic fees associated with tummy tuck include the cosmetic surgeon’s fee, the operating facility fee and the anesthesiologist’s fee.

How much weight can I lose from tummy tuck surgery?

While a Northern California tummy tuck can help you slim and tone your abdominal area, it is not meant for weight loss. Tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure used to remove excess skin and, if necessary, repair weakened or separated abdominal muscles. If you seek to lose weight, you are advised to do so via diet and exercise or bariatric (massive weight loss) surgery instead of, or before, body contouring. Ideal tummy tuck surgery patients should be at a healthy and stable weight.

Can I tighten my loose abdominal skin without surgery?

Many people believe exercise, creams and other non-surgical options can correct stretched, loose skin. Unfortunately, this is not true. These methods cannot improve the elasticity of the skin and help it return to its pre-stretched state. Especially in cases of massive weight loss, the skin cannot retract over a significantly smaller body shape. Surgical methods like tummy tucks are the only true and proven way to significantly tighten loose abdominal skin.

Can tummy tuck remove my stretch marks?

Tummy tuck can remove stretch marks so long as they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised. The remaining stretch marks may improve in appearance and become less noticeable once the remaining skin is tightened. Typically, stretch marks located above the belly button will remain after tummy tuck surgery.

Can I get pregnant after tummy tuck surgery?

Tummy tuck (and plastic surgery in general) does not affect your ability to get pregnant. However, for cosmetic reasons, our plastic surgeons recommend that patients undergo tummy tuck only after they are done having children and breastfeeding. Weight fluctuations during and after pregnancy can stretch out the abdominal skin and damage the muscles, ultimately reversing the effects of the procedure.

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

Most patients are able to return to work two weeks after their surgery. BSI surgeons will monitor your healing progress during your follow-up consultations and may recommend more time off from work if he deems it necessary.

When can I resume exercise?

Vigorous activity, including exercise and heavy lifting, will need to be avoided for four weeks. Most patients are able to exercise lightly four weeks after surgery and exercise more vigorously (i.e., heavy lifting) eight weeks after surgery. Do not resume exercise until your surgeon clears you to do so.

What are the side effects and risks of tummy tuck surgery?

Tummy tuck surgery, like all surgical procedures, carries some degree of risk. Possible complications include infection, bleeding, prolonged numbness, poor wound healing and excessive scarring. Risks of anesthesia are also present. Preoperative medical clearance from your primary doctor is obtained prior to surgery. Temporary side effects include swelling, discomfort and bruising. Your surgeon will discuss side effects and potential complications in detail with you during your initial consultation.

Will I have visible scarring?

All surgical procedures leave some degree of scarring. But an experienced and skilled plastic surgeon know how to minimize the appearance of these scars. In tummy tuck surgery, the incision is typically placed just above the pubic line, from hip to hip, and is hidden by most clothing. Your incision scars will fade over time. Your plastic surgeon will provide you with instructions and tips on how to take care of your incision scars. Your surgeon makes a “low” tummy tuck incision that lies below most undergarments and bathing suits.

When are the results noticeable?

While you will see an improvement in your abdominal area immediately after the procedure, the final results may take up several months to appear. This is because it may take several months for residual swelling to disappear completely.

Why should I choose BSI plastic surgeons for my tummy tuck surgery?

BSI plastic surgeons are board-certified, and have performed countless procedures. Our plastic surgeons are respected by both their peers and patients and they hold a high patient satisfaction rate.

Will my health insurance cover my tummy tuck surgery?

Because tummy tuck is considered an elective and cosmetic procedure, it is rarely covered by health insurance. If the procedure is being done for medical reasons, medical insurance may cover some of the cost. Speak to your health insurance to learn about your coverage.

Learn More About Tummy Tuck

If you live in Northern California, and would like to learn how tummy tuck can flatten and tone your tummy, schedule a personal consultation. BSI’s plastic surgeons will gladly discuss your options with you in detail. Schedule an appointment now.

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