The tummy tuck is a popular surgical procedure designed to restore a smooth, firm contour to a stretched out abdomen. Contrary to what many people think, it is not a weight loss procedure. In order to experience the best results from a tummy tuck, candidates should achieve their weight loss goals before undergoing surgery.
According to board certified plastic surgeon Dr Kiran Nerkar most patients who want to have a tummy tuck really need to lose weight first. “The tummy tuck is not a weight loss technique. And that’s a common misconception,” begins Dr. Nerkar “All too often patients look at a before and after picture, and they say, ‘My goodness, I want a nice tight tummy,’ but they haven’t done the necessary before work.”
WHAT IS A TUMMY TUCK?
Pregnancy and major weight loss can both lead to loose, saggy skin in the abdomen, as well as stretched out muscles below the skin. During a tummy tuck, excess skin is surgically removed and the abdominal muscles are restored to their proper pre-pregnancy position.
During a Tummy Tuck:
- Excess skin is removed
- Abdominal muscles are restored
- Smooth, firm abdominal contour is restored
As is the case with any surgical procedure, the trade-off for a restored abdomen is a scar. Tummy tucks, in particular, have very lengthy scars. “The key is to place the incision low,” explains Dr Nerkar. “I typically go just right above the pubic hair line.”
PROPER PATIENT SELECTION
A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is not a small surgical procedure. Due to the extensive nature of the surgery, Dr. Nerkar places a heavy emphasis on proper patient selection. Not everyone who wants a tummy tuck is a candidate for surgery. Patients who want to undergo a tummy tuck need to be physically healthy and at a stable weight that is at, or very near, their ideal body weight.
“The problem with patients who have not reached their ideal weight is that there is fat inside the abdomen, wrapped around the intestine, that causes the abdomen to protrude,” explains Dr Nerkar. “You can do the best tummy tuck in the world, but you’re not going to push that tummy back in. Patients who have a protruding tummy need to lose the proper weight first.”
There are two different types of fat residing in the abdomen. The fat that lives just below the skin is known as subcutaneous fat. This is the fat you can pinch around your waist. Deeper fat, the fat surrounding internal organs, is known as visceral fat. When a patient has excess visceral fat, no amount of skin or muscle tightening – nor liposuction – can achieve a flat abdomen.
“Only weight loss will correct that,” says Dr Nerkar. “I tell patients that I’d like them to lose proper weight through diet and exercise until they’ve lost that fat on the inside. They should only have an inch to an inch and a half of fat beneath the skin.”