Tummy tuck preparation, cost, and recovery

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Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon


Tummy tuck preparation, cost, and recovery

Tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure for improving abdominal contouring through the removal of excess fat and skin. During a tummy tuck in Phoenix AZ, Dr. LaBarbera removes excess skin and stubborn pockets of fat that do not respond to exercise or diet. If you are planning to have this procedure, it is important that you learn how to prepare for surgery. This article brings you up to speed on tummy tuck preparation, cost, and recovery.

How to prepare for a tummy tuck 

Here’s a checklist to help you prepare for a successful tummy tuck:

Choose the right plastic surgeon 

The first step is to find a highly experienced and skilled plastic surgeon. You have probably watched one of those ‘Botched’ shows on TV and you surely do not want a less-than-satisfactory outcome. You may start your plastic surgeon search online, focusing primarily on your town or city. At least a neighboring city would also suffice. Keep in mind to check the academic qualifications, years of experience, before and after photos, as well as testimonials from past patients. It is also very important that the specialist you choose to work with is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Once you come up with a shortlist of surgeons you can work with, schedule appointments with all of them before you make your final decision. This will help you gauge the surgeon’s approach and see whether you would feel comfortable working with them. Choosing the right plastic surgeon for your tummy tuck is a very important step that can go a long way to ensure that you end up satisfied with the outcome of your procedure.

Learn the different types of procedures available 

Now that you have decided who to work with, it is time to learn about the different procedure options available to you. A full tummy tuck is the procedure of choice for patients who are looking for drastic changes, targeting the abdominal sections below and above the belly button. This type of procedure presents a natural-looking outcome with a firm abdomen. Mini tummy tucks are a less invasive procedure choice that involves fewer incisions (and thus scarring) compared to a full abdominoplasty. This procedure is perfect for individuals who are looking to get rid of a “pooch” or tiny abdominal bulge or stretch marks. Following your initial consultation, your plastic surgeon will listen to your needs, examine your belly, and help you choose the best procedure option.

Follow pre-op instructions 

Every abdominoplasty is different. Your plastic surgeon will let you know what to do and what not to do depending on the needs of your procedure. The goal of the surgery is to deliver the desired abdominal contour while minimizing the risk of scarring and other complications. To make sure that your body is ready for a successful surgery, you may be asked to:

  • Get an evaluation – a medical evaluation and lab testing are usually important so that the surgeon can learn about your health before the surgery. 
  • Adjust current prescription – your plastic surgeon may ask you to adjust your current prescription or stop taking certain types of medication. 
  • Quit smoking and drinking alcohol – most plastic surgeons will ask that you quit smoking because it impairs healing and leads to scarring. You will also need to quit alcohol or drugs that could increase bleeding at least on a temporary basis.

Because abdominoplasty is an outpatient procedure, your surgeon will ask that you make arrangements for someone to drive you home and help out with chores for a day or two. In some cases though, your doctor may ask that you stay overnight for further observation before you are released to continue with recovery at home.

Learn what to expect during recovery 

Learning how the recovery process will be like is important so that you can make arrangements in advance. You will need to stay off work for at least 3 weeks while your body regains its strength. During the first few days following this procedure, you can expect to experience some discomfort, soreness, and tiredness. Your plastic surgeon will ask that you rest as much as possible and may also prescribe pain medication to increase your comfort level. Following the surgery, your surgeon will apply elastic bandages or a special compression garment. This is important to support the healing process and shape your outcome and thus should be worn as instructed. In some cases, thin tubes known as drains may be inserted to help drain excess fluid or blood that collects as your wound heals. The surgeon will ask you to take special care of this. Assuming that everything goes according to plan – and that you strictly adhere to the surgeon’s instructions – most patients are able to fully recover within 8 weeks. 

Anticipate and discuss potential scarring

Scarring is a natural consequence of any surgical process where an incision is made into the skin. Most abdominoplasty candidates are concerned about the kind of scarring that they will experience following the procedure. It is important that you talk to your surgeon about the length, location, and number of incisions to be made during the surgery. Most experienced surgeons use advanced surgical methods to deliver a satisfactory outcome while minimizing the risk of scarring and other complications. Women who previously underwent a cesarean section may realize that their existing scars are integrated into the tummy tuck scar. Following the surgery, it is utterly important to care for your incision sites and treatment area to make sure that everything turns out best. Keep in mind though that scars do not disappear completely. Rather, they may take several months and up to a year to fade. In addition to general post-op scar care instructions, your plastic surgeon will likely recommend silicone treatments to improve the appearance of your scars. 

How much does a tummy tuck cost?

The cost of a tummy tuck can vary greatly from one patient to the other, usually depending on factors such as the surgeon’s skills, anesthesia fees, medical tests, hospital fees, and the location where you receive the procedure. Because abdominoplasty is considered to be an elective cosmetic procedure, insurance typically does not pay for it. Your surgeon should provide a cost estimate after your initial consultation to help you arrange for your financing. 

Essential tips for a speedy tummy tuck recovery 

Once you make it out of surgery and go home to start your recovery, it is important that you strictly adhere to your surgeon’s instructions with regards to wound care. Below are some other recovery tips that can also come in handy after your surgery:

  • Focus on a nutritious diet – your body needs as much energy and nutrients as possible so it can heal promptly. That is why it is very important to focus on a healthy diet, rich in proteins such as chicken and salmon. Fruits and vegetables are also very important to help you recover well and fast. 
  • Drink plenty of water – staying hydrated is very important as you work to get back up following abdominoplasty. Your body needs to stay hydrated to keep your immune system functioning well, flush out toxins, and promote a safe recovery. Focus on water and other healthy drinks, but avoid caffeinated drinks. The goal is to drink at least 8 ounces of fluid per day. 
  • Move around – your plastic surgeon will encourage that you walk lightly as soon as you can following the surgery. As your body continues to recover, you should be able to take longer walks. Plan to head out for a 20-30 minute walk at least daily, or hit the treadmill for a light walk. Keep in mind not to over-exert yourself, and listen to your body for any discomfort. Also, avoid any form of heavy lifting or strenuous exercising until after you get the go-ahead from your plastic surgeon. 
  • Adapt your sleeping position – it is recommended that you sleep in an inclined position following your tummy tuck in order to reduce pressure and stress on the treatment area. Get some large body pillows to support your body and help keep you in the right position while sleeping. 

Wear your support garment – your surgeon will provide an abdominal support garment to help with recovery after a tummy tuck. This compression garment can speed up healing while also shaping up the result of your tummy tuck. Make sure to wear it at all times as instructed by your surgeon.


Steps to Get Ready for Your Surgery