If you’re struggling to improve a protruding or hanging abdomen despite maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it may be possible that stretched muscles and/or excess skin are preventing you from reaching your aesthetic goals. Many different factors can cause the skin to grow lax and sag over time, including weight loss or gain, pregnancy, gravity, or simply heredity. While these issues typically do not respond to dieting and exercise, a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) can be an incredibly effective procedure to attain a smoother, flatter look in the abdomen. Board-certified plastic surgeon Eric Payne, MD can help you reshape your midsection with personalized techniques that produce a natural-looking result.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

An abdominoplasty, commonly known as a tummy tuck, is a body contouring procedure designed to remove excess fat and skin from the abdomen. In most cases, a tummy tuck can also repair weakened or separated muscles to create an abdominal profile that appears smoother, tighter, and firmer. This often allows tummy tuck surgery to achieve the flatter, more toned abdomen that exercise and dieting alone cannot achieve. While the outcome of abdominoplasty is usually a leaner physique, a tummy tuck should never be considered a method of weight loss. This procedure is simply meant to reshape the abdominal area, and the most successful results are generally achieved when patients are already at or near their ideal weight.

What Can a Tummy Tuck Accomplish?

A tummy tuck is the only procedure that can address the skin, fat, and muscles of the abdomen at once to achieve a more contoured abdominal profile. This treatment option is commonly pursued by patients who have experienced weight fluctuation or undergone pregnancy. Dr. Payne can perform a tummy tuck to:

  • Remove and smooth excess skin
  • Extract fatty deposits
  • Repair stretched or separated musculature

Tummy tuck surgery can also be performed in conjunction with a popular treatment option known as a Mommy Makeover, which can include liposuction, breast lift surgery, and/or a breast augmentation depending on your area(s) of concern.

Tummy Tuck vs. Panniculectomy

Panniculectomy is another abdominal procedure performed for patients who have excess skin from extreme weight loss or bariatric surgery. Essentially, a panniculectomy is the basic removal of excess skin without added contouring. When a person loses a large amount of weight, they are usually left with substantial excess tissue from the skin’s inability to contract around the body’s new contours. This excess skin can cause irritation, inflammation, discomfort, and the breakdown of the skin. It can also make certain daily activities difficult or uncomfortable to perform. If this proves to be a medical concern, a panniculectomy can be performed to alleviate the symptoms of excess skin. This procedure mainly removes redundant tissue, whereas a tummy tuck also repairs the abdominal wall and creates a more rejuvenated/tightened shape in the waist and stomach.

How is the Tummy Tuck Procedure Performed?

A tummy tuck is performed under general anesthesia. A full abdominoplasty requires a horizontal incision in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button, allowing Dr. Payne to access the abdomen wall. The length of the incision, as well as how much loose skin needs to be removed in the abdomen, will be determined by Dr. Payne. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, the underlying weakened musculature is repaired and a second incision around the navel may or may not be necessary to remove additional skin.

Once Dr. Payne completes your procedure, you will be transferred to the recovery room, where our hospital nurses will help you prepare to resume your recovery at your home. A post-op appointment will be scheduled so Dr. Payne can monitor how your body is healing.

What is the Tummy Tuck Recovery Period Like?

Before your operation, you will be evaluated by Dr. Payne. Our office staff will provide you with any information you may need regarding surgery, and answer any questions you have about recovery. After your tummy tuck procedure is completed, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect. These drains, along with compression garments, will help you achieve your desired outcome. You will additionally be wrapped in an elastic bandage or compression garment to minimize swelling and support your abdomen as it begins to heal. It is very important to follow the post-operative instructions provided by Dr. Payne and our staff so you achieve the best possible results. We advise you to avoid strenuous activity for at least two to three weeks. Full recovery time can amount to six to eight weeks. Once fully healed, patients typically enjoy a flatter abdomen and a stronger core.

When Can I Return To Work After a Tummy Tuck?

Each person is different, but you will likely need to take it easy during the first five to seven days after your surgery. Patients should also avoid physically demanding work responsibilities while they are healing. If you have an office job, you may be able to return to work sooner when compared to those who have more strenuous work duties. Dr. Payne will advise you on when you can expect to return to work during one of your post-operative appointments. While we encourage plenty of rest, Dr. Payne also recommends going on light walks after surgery to prevent potential blood clots in the legs.

Will I Have Visible Tummy Tuck Scars?

Scarring from abdominoplasty is unavoidable, but should be easily concealed with a swimsuit bottom or underwear. The incision from a tummy tuck typically extends from hip to hip just above the groin area. We encourage you to explore the tummy tuck before-and-after photos in our patient gallery so you can learn what to expect with regard to the shape and size of an abdominoplasty scar. A more limited version of the tummy tuck procedure, known as a “mini tummy tuck,” may produce a smaller scar, but this technique cannot treat the abdominal muscles or remove significant excess skin. While tummy tuck scars will be visible, they may fade and lighten to some extent over time—especially if patients closely follow the wound care instructions that will be provided by Dr. Payne during recovery.

How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?

In Houston, the cost of abdominoplasty can range from $8,000 to $10,000 for a mini tummy tuck, and $14,000 to $16,000 for a full tummy tuck with liposuction. These estimates include the various fees usually associated with plastic surgery, such as expenses for the anesthesia, surgical facility, surgeon, post-operative care, etc. That said, each person’s surgical costs are personalized according to the unique details of their treatment plan. After you visit our practice for a consultation with Dr. Payne, our office will be able to present you with a personalized quote of your tummy tuck expenses.

Dr. Payne accepts financing plans through credible healthcare lending companies like CareCredit® and Prosper® Healthcare Lending, which both offer very low or zero interest rates for patients who qualify. Many patients find that their surgical costs are more easily manageable with the flexible payment options provided by plastic surgery financing. Please don’t hesitate to call our Houston office at (713) 461-8866 if you have any questions about the application process, or about the cost of tummy tuck surgery in general.

Please contact The Craniofacial and Plastic Surgery Center in Houston today to schedule a consultation for your tummy tuck with Dr. Payne.