What is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat, improves the appearance of stretch marks, and repairs loose abdominal muscles resulting from pregnancy, dramatic weight loss, or aging.
For patients who have sagging skin and excess fat only below the belly button, a more limited tummy tuck or “mini” abdominoplasty may suffice. Mini abdominoplasty uses a smaller incision above the pubic bone. Whether or not the incision extends through to the abdominal muscles will depend on the extent of the repair.
Patients with sagging skin and excess fat above and below the belly button will require a traditional tummy tuck or abdominoplasty. This procedure requires a hip-to-hip incision across the lower abdomen, below the bikini line, and around the belly button. This allows for repositioning after skin removal.
Should You Avoid Getting Pregnant After a Tummy Tuck Surgery?
There is no absolute medical contraindication to pregnancy after abdominoplasty. Patients should always consult with their healthcare team including their internist, OB-GYN, and plastic surgeon if they are considering abdominoplasty, whether they plan to have future children or not. In almost all cases, it is advised to wait until after having children to consider surgical correction.
What Happens if You Get Pregnant?
Pregnancy will essentially undo all the improvements and repairs made during the initial tummy tuck. A history of previous tummy tuck itself will not prevent you from getting pregnant nor have any negative implications on the actual pregnancy itself. However, the repaired rectus diastasis will stretch again as will the overlying skin. Hence, abdominoplasty prior to completion of bearing children is almost never indicated. In fact, revision and repair in the instance of a previous tummy tuck is often much more difficult due to scarring and permanent changes previously made with re-siting of the belly button.
Scheduling a Consultation to Discuss Your Options
The first step to schedule a consultation would be doing thorough research. There are many ways to find a plastic surgeon. Arguably the best way would be to receive a referral from another physician, such as primary care, dermatologist, or OB-GYN. These providers often see multiple patients with good results and can attest to those by referring their patients somewhere. Friends are a secondarily good referral source, especially if they are patients themselves. When it comes to advertising, the most essential consideration is the plastic surgeon’s education, board certification ONLY by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and before/after gallery. If those components match your desired outcome, then they would be a good source of information to seek in consultation. You will often come across taglines such as “no downtime surgery” or “no anesthesia required”. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. There are no shortcuts to SAFE plastic surgery.
The next step would be to contact the office of a board-certified plastic surgeon to find a time to meet them. First impressions last a lifetime, so pay attention when speaking to the receptionist upon calling. Should you decide to have surgery, this is the team you will be dealing with multiple times per month for at least a year. The administrative team directly reflects the surgeon’s ways of working. Another thing to clarify would be a potential timeline for surgery. This is sometimes best done before reaching out to qualified providers because they are booked one to six months out, on average. Knowing well enough in advance will give you adequate time to interview surgeons, get any preoperative lab work done, and feel confident moving forward with your scheduled procedure.