Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) Newport Beach
Abdominoplasty, or Tummy Tuck, is one of Dr. Sayed’s favorite operations to perform. The results are almost immediate in terms of improvement, and the effect on the body shape can be dramatic. Women after childbearing are particularly fond of having tummy tucks, which help restore the body to a more youthful shape while addressing areas of skin looseness and some of the troublesome stretch marks that many women develop in their lower abdomens. The length of the incision (basically the difference between a “mini-abdominoplasty” and a full one) is mostly determined by how much loose skin there is and what the patient’s underlying soft tissue contour looks like. When combined with liposuction, abdominoplasty is a very powerful reshaping tool. The major effects of a tummy tuck are to:
- Remove extra skin from the abdomen, especially in the lower area
- Tighten the musculature and correct laxity of the core structures (not always required but common in many abdominoplasty techniques)
- Remove an overhanging belly (called a “pannus”)
- Bring up the pubic triangle if it has become saggy
- Reduce the love handle area, particularly when combined with liposuction
- Improve the appearance of the belly button in many cases
- Reduce the patient’s weight to a modest degree ( this is NOT a weight loss operation but a certain amount of weight does come off with the removed tissue, of course)
Tummy Tuck 101
Abdominoplasty incisions are fashioned low in the abdomen to try to conceal the final scar in a location where it may be covered by swimwear. Depending on the style of underwear or bikini bottom that a female wears, the scar orientation may be slightly changed. Also, some patients need longer scars than others, or may have the scar ride up a little bit depending on their particular anatomy. A small incision around the edge of the belly button (itself nature’s most common scar, if you really think about it) is typical. there are a number of different designs for a belly button that can be selected, as well.
Tightening of the internal fascia overlying the rectus abdominis muscles (think of it as the tendon-like sheath around the abs) is a component of many abdominoplasties and helps bring in the waistline and reduce bulginess.
The final scar may take many months to blend and may still be somewhat visible, especially in patients with olive skin. Darker skinned patients may have a tendency to slightly thicken their scars, but Dr. Sayed has some methods to try to minimize this. Many patients may benefit from special scar-minimization products and some have had laser treatment to further improve their incisions. We do our best to put them nice and low.
1. How do I know if I am a candidate for tummy tuck surgery?
Some of our selection criteria to include you as an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) candidate include:
- Extra skin and fat in the lower abdomen, bulging of the central abdomen, love handles, enough extra skin to be able to put the scar in a low enough position to be reasonably concealable
- No hernias on physical exam – although we can repair them in some cases
- General good health, meaning you do not have major uncorrected cardiovascular, respiratory, kidney or other major organ conditions, and would be able to be medically cleared for general anesthesia by an internal medicine physician if you are over a certain age
- Not pregnant or immediately planning to become pregnant – in very selected cases, we will consider performing a tummy tuck to follow delivery of a pregnancy
- Nonsmoker or willing to commit to NO NICOTINE IN ANY FORM for at least 3 weeks preop and for the duration of your recovery
- A body mass index below 35 and ideally below 30 for optimal results, with rare exceptions
- Available support system of friends, family, caregivers or others who can help you to keep your appointments, complete your preop and postop tasks, and emotionally bolster you through this exciting journey
- Reasonable expectations of how much breast enhancement is possible with specific techniques
2. How long does tummy tuck surgery usually take?
Most abdominoplasty procedures are two to three hours in duration, but may take longer if you are also having liposuction. Dr. Sayed has performed a tummy tuck on a slender patient in less than 90 minutes but has also taken nearly 4 hours on heavier patients or those requiring extension of the incision along the sides due to overweight. There are a number of combinations of tummy tuck with liposuction which we can perform, with safety and operative time always being a primary consideration. Tummy tucks can be combined with breast augmentation and/or breast lifting in selected patients (often known as a “Mommy Makeover”), which takes around 4 to 6 hours.
3. What is recovery from tummy tuck surgery like?
Most abdominoplasties are performed on an outpatient basis in a AAAASF-certified operating room, meaning the facility is up to very high standards of accreditation. Patients usually spend up to a couple hours in the postoperative suite before being discharged in the care of a companion, family member or friend. Some patients may be advised to spend the night in a 23 hour observation facility or even the hospital, although most patients are good candidates for ambulatory surgery. Dr. Sayed gives a 24 hour phone number to all patients who can reach him for urgent questions, and we also issue access to a patient engagement application that allows the patient or companion/caregiver to send SMS messages, photos, video and other content to our team in a secure, private digital format. This keeps us mutually informed on your recovery and allows us to update your instructions while requiring a respectful number of face-to-face visits in the office.
Early postop recovery findings can include abdominal pain, muscle cramping, mild nausea, back discomfort from walking in a semi-bent position, bruising and swelling, numbness or diminished sensation in the skin, and some mental adjustment to the process of healing which most patients undergo. Most patients are advised to take up to 3 weeks out of social circulation and we’d prefer that you not drive yourself in the first 14 days or as long as you are taking any prescription pain medication. Most sutures are dissolvable but there may be a few that need to be removed at around 14 to 21 days postop. You will probably have drains in place which are usually removed in the office at 10-14 days. While Dr. Sayed has occasionally performed abdominoplasty without drains, he has never been convinced that such a technique gives better results and he feels he can avoid some of the nuisance issues of fluid collections best by using drains, as do most plastic surgeons.
We ask that you abstain from exercise for 4 weeks and then return to light fitness routines after that. It is very important that you get up and walk even the first night following your procedure. You may have to walk doubled-over for the first week or so as the muscle tightening accommodates. You will be asked to wear a surgical garment for about 3 months, and it will be easiest for you if you wear tops that button down in the front in the first3 weeks or so. Dr. Sayed and his team provide close postop care in the office and with our remote engagement tools. You will be asked to take some supplement medications to aid in your recovery, which may include medications for pain, bruising, swelling, constipation, and dietary optimization.
4. How long do tummy tuck results usually last?
The final scar from a tummy tuck may not be mature for about a year. However, the contouring improvement and removal of skin are generally almost immediately evident to most patients – and the patients are usually wowed by the amazing change. There may be minor asymmetries, and heavier patients may still have some bulging — remember, this is not a weight loss procedure and is not a substitute for diet and exercise — with occasional touch-up revisions needed for scar improvement or small areas of tissue excess. For the most part, these are not commonly required and the results may last indefinitely if the patient maintains weight and exercise programs. Certainly, if a patient gets pregnant after a tummy tuck, things are going to change, but it is possible to do a redo tummy tuck in most such patients. Changes associated with aging will continue, of course, but many patients are highly pleased with having had their tummy tucks years before.
5. How can I prepare for my tummy tuck surgery?
- Have a reasonable expectation of what surgery can accomplish – understand that this is not a surgery for weight loss
- Look at before and after photos and understand what kinds of techniques you are interested in
- Don’t smoke or take nicotine in any form for at least 3 weeks and ideally longer before (and after) surgery
- Stay well rested and well hydrated and eat a nutritious diet balanced with plenty of protein
- If your diet is lacking in vitamins, take vitamin C and zinc supplementation but ask Dr. Sayed about other supplements. We have a list of ingredients we ask you to avoid in the immediate preop phase to optimize healing and minimize bleeding risk.
- Designate a caretaker who can help you through the first 7-14 days after your abdominoplasty
- Identify whether you think you might have a hernia bulge in your belly button or abdomen
- Lose weight to get to a target which we can set together based on your body mass index (BMI) – ideally, we’d like to help you get it below 30, but there is a reasonable range depending on other factors
6. How much does a tummy tuck cost in Southern California?
We don’t like to publish pricing as it is subject to market changes and dependent on the types of procedures you consider. We do have a fee schedule available in the office after your consultation, and we can give you an estimate through virtual consultation tools available on this site like our Zwivel® page. Feel free to contact us for a pre-consultation and we are happy to provide more information. The cost of your surgery will partly depend on where you have it, and whether you combine it with liposuction, breast surgery, or other procedures. One thing to keep in mind for patients considering combining BBL (Brazilian Buttlift) and tummy tuck: Dr. Sayed most likely will recommend that you stage these operations for your safety and to optimize the results, although in selected patients it may be reasonable to combine them.
7. What is the difference between a mini-tummy tuck and a full tummy tuck?
This is one of the most common questions we receive in our office. Who wouldn’t want a “mini” operation instead of a “full” one if given the choice, right?
However, things are not that simple when evaluating a patient for a mini-abdominoplasty vs. a traditional, full abdominoplasty. The major difference between the two approaches is that the mini-abdominoplasty does not usually include an incision around the belly button, and is typically a somewhat shorter scar. This operation is appropriate for only select patients who have minimal upper abdominal looseness and excess fat, and whose main problem is some loose skin in the lower abdomen. The mini-tummy tuck does not usually include full correction of looseness of the muscle since the belly button is not freed up to allow access to the upper abdomen. In our experience, the best candidate for a mini-tummy tuck is a thin, athletic bodied woman with a small amount of extra skin above the pubic area after pregnancy or weight loss. Patients with more medium or heavyset builds are much better candidates for a full abdominoplasty, especially if they have had multiple children.
Many surgeons try to limit the length of a tummy tuck scar by gathering it in from each end, but in our experience, this can lead to a “pleating” or wrinkled look to the scar, which we do not think is as aesthetic as a nice, smooth scar. The decision on how long to make the incision and whether to include liposuction and muscle tightening is made after a careful examination on consultation with Dr. Sayed.