First, I’m going to write this in general terms and try to stay away from medical terms. Patients often ask me, “what makes my tummy tuck look so pretty and natural?” The basic principles of a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) are raising the skin and fat off the stomach muscles, tightening of the stomach muscles, pulling down and cutting off the excess skin and fat, closure, and re-insertion of the belly button.
What surprises me the most is that not all surgeons tighten the stomach muscles as part of their tummy tuck. I consider this muscle tightening (plication) to be one of the most critical components of a tummy tuck since it flattens the stomach and sculpts the waist.
Additional features of an aesthetically pleasing tummy tuck include:
- not over dissecting the flap so the stomach doesn’t end up looking like cardboard;
- perform a deep closure to minimize tension on the wound, which results in a thinner scar;
- avoid “dog ears” (bulges of skin and fat on the sides of the tummy tuck scar);
- keep the scar as low as possible;
- correct any sagging or fullness of the fat upper pubic area (FUPA); and
- create a natural and pretty belly button that doesn’t have suture scars all around.
I usually also perform additional VASER liposuction to sculpt the back of the waist (flanks) and the back. This helps me avoid “dog ears”. (See explanation above).
Just as important is the recovery after a tummy tuck. I’m a firm believer that no one should have to endure months of walking hunched over after a tummy tuck. Patients should be able to walk with little pain almost immediately after their surgery. This is due in part by a meticulous surgical technique and local anesthesia.
Not all tummy tucks are created equal. Patients need to understand important distinctions when deciding to have a tummy tuck. Meet your surgeon, ask questions, and review their before and after images to get an idea of how your tummy tuck will look if done by them.
—Dr. Fil Rod