What a Tummy Tuck Can and Can’t Do

A tummy tuck—medically referred to as an abdominoplasty—is a skin removal procedure that addresses the lower abdomen. Depending on the type of tummy tuck performed, it may address only the immediate lower abdominal area or could reach up to the upper abdomen with a fleur-de-lis tummy tuck. In addition to removing excess skin and tightening the remaining skin, a tummy tuck can also repair the separation of the abdominal muscles, or diastasis recti.

Patients seek tummy tuck surgery for a variety of reasons. However, the two most common reasons that people end up with a significant amount of abdominal skin are pregnancy and weight loss. During pregnancy, the skin and muscles stretch and expand extensively. It is not always possible for them to retract to their original contours. With weight loss, less skin becomes necessary and loose skin can bunch up on the abdomen.

Tummy Tuck Basics

The most common technique for performing a tummy tuck starts with a horizontal incision just below the panty line. The incision generally spans from hip to hip. The surgeon will then resect up so they can gain access to the necessary structures such as the affected abdominal muscles. Usually, this involves removing the belly button.

From there, a plastic surgeon will stitch the separated muscles together. This tightens the core and can help relieve many uncomfortable post-pregnancy symptoms such as urinary incontinence. This also helps bring the contours of the body inward. The surgeon will then remove the necessary amount of skin, stretch the remaining skin back down to the incision, stitch the incision, and, finally, reposition the belly button on the abdomen.

In the end, a tummy tuck provides a solution for excess fat, weakened muscles, and loose skin. It may also be combined with other procedures like liposuction to further improve results.

Creating a Flat Abdomen

The combination of abdominal muscle repair and skin removal during an abdominoplasty Seattle helps create a flatter abdomen. Diastasis recti can cause the muscles to bulge out slightly because they are loose and not serving their purpose. Tightening these muscles can resolve this pooch and in some petite patients may be the majority of their concerns. Skin removal then tightens the skin over the body’s new contours and flatter stomach.

As mentioned, a tummy tuck is particularly effective following pregnancy and weight loss—both common causes of diastasis recti and excess, loose skin. Patients often drop multiple dress or pants sizes once fully healed from their tummy tuck, even if they did not lose a significant number of pounds.

Preventing Weight Gain

Before undergoing a tummy tuck, patients should have maintained a stable weight for at least a few months. This is because significant weight gain after the surgery can reverse the results. Therefore, keeping a stable weight is important for long-term abdominoplasty results. Also, it is important to note that a stable weight is a range, gaining or losing five pounds is unlikely to have a notable effect on your results unless extremely petite.

A tummy tuck—contrary to popular belief—is not a weight loss surgery. A small amount of fat may be removed with the skin, but it does not help patients lose a significant amount of weight, even with added liposuction. However, patients who undergo bariatric surgery or other weight loss surgeries do frequently have a tummy tuck later on to remove the loose skin left behind.

Excess Skin Removal

The extent of a tummy tuck ultimately depends on the amount of saggy skin present after weight loss or pregnancy. An abdominoplasty Seattle could use the mini tummy tuck technique which only removes skin below the belly button. Thus, it does not reposition the belly button on the abdomen. A mini tummy tuck may or may not include diastasis recti repair. More commonly, a full tummy tuck addresses above the belly button and nearly always includes muscle repair.

Dealing with Stretch Marks

Stretch marks are common after changes in body size such as weight loss or gain and pregnancy. Many patients find them unsightly but they are not harmful and can appear on any size of body. When it comes to what a tummy tuck can do for treating stretch marks, it ultimately depends on where the stretch marks are located.

If stretch marks are localized to the skin which is going to be more removed, then the procedure will take care of them. This is not common though. Most stretch marks will stretch across the abdomen vertically which inevitably means that all of the stretch marks cannot be effectively or totally removed. However, they are often minimized.

Patients can discuss other or additional treatment options for stretch marks. Other possible treatments may include microneedling, laser resurfacing, and over-the-counter creams.

Muscle Repair

Muscle repair is technically a separate procedure from a tummy tuck. But, because surgeons are already on top of the abdominal muscles, they can combine the procedures for a more toned result. Since the muscles are stitched back together and tightened, this helps sculpt the stomach and provide a more toned appearance. In some cases, an abdominoplasty Seattle can create a six-pack.

Limitations on Six-Pack Abs

Six-pack abs following a tummy tuck—while not overly common—does sometimes happen for both male and female patients. However, it is usually when the final results come in in nine to twelve months. Many patients will not see six-pack abs after a tummy tuck, but patients can expect a flatter stomach.

At a consultation appointment, a plastic surgeon will discuss what realistic results look like for each individual patient based on their anatomy and specific procedure. Patients must have realistic expectations of what an abdominoplasty Seattle can achieve.

Combining Procedures

A tummy tuck is the perfect procedure to combine with other surgeries. Patients can heal from the multiple surgeries at one time and see their total results sooner. Liposuction is a common procedure that is combined with tummy tucks. It can remove excess fat that the surgery alone may not otherwise address. Thus, this helps create smoother and improved results. Liposuction can also help bring in the waist and further accentuate the contours of the body.

Permanent Results vs. Weight Gain

The results of a tummy tuck are permanent as long as a patient does not experience significant weight gain or pregnancies after surgery. Therefore, patients should prioritize living a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and exercise. Patients will also want to ensure they will not have future pregnancies. If they do, they may need future revisions. Following a long-term plan for a healthy lifestyle will help patients maintain their results permanently.


An abdominoplasty Seattle can provide life-changing results that patients can enjoy for the rest of their lives. Skin removal and muscle repair can help create a flatter stomach and allow a patient to enjoy the true contours of their body after weight loss and regain a tighter body following pregnancy. Patients should consult with a plastic surgeon to learn more about whether a tummy tuck could help them, so patients can feel confident in making an informed decision.

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