The Surgeon Minute

Yes, A Tummy Tuck May Be The Answer

Yes, A Tummy Tuck May Be The Answer

A perfectly, well-toned abdomen is a goal that many people set for themselves. But achieving a flat mid-section often doesn’t happen through exercise and proper diet, sometimes a little extra help with a tummy tuck surgery is necessary. Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck removes excess fat and sagging skin giving the appearance of firmer, smoother abs. The surgery can also help to restore muscles that have become weak or separated. Dr. Kevin Smith discusses why this popular surgery may be the right choice for those who just can’t seem to trim off the belly fat.

By Dawn Tongish
and Kevin Smith, MD

If you are like many people, you are eating right and working hard in the gym, but there may be some stubborn inches around your mid-section that just won’t budge. It can be frustrating when the scale shows a normal body weight, but still the belly-area is protruding with sagging, lose skin. Dr. Kevin Smith, who is a board-certified plastic surgeon practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina sees it often with patients who are otherwise a healthy body weight. “Patients come to us concerned that they have been working in the gym and they are in good shape and the right weight, but they just can’t get rid of the post-partum pooch or that lower abdomen roundness.” Smith says that is what the tummy tuck is designed to correct.

“Really, that is what the abdominoplasty fixes the best, that kind of situation. These are muscles that have spread apart and that give that roundness and you just can’t fix that in the gym as much as you would like to try,” says Smith.

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When Is A Good Time For A Tummy Tuck?

You may be a good candidate for a tummy tuck if all of the good faith efforts at the gym are making the scale budge, but your abdomen is still sagging and protruding. It can be embarrassing and frustrating. There are also other factors that should weigh in your decision to have a tummy tuck, including being at the ideal weight. Doctor Smith says its important to be at your target weight. “If you do a tummy tuck and plan on losing 30 pounds it won’t work very well. It’s like making a bed with a down comforter under the sheet. You can’t pull the sheet very tight.” Smith says when a patient is at his/her thinnest before the surgery, the results are more predictable. It’s alright if you are a slender person, with some loose skin in the mid-section. If you are obese, it is better to lose some weight before considering this procedure.

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Also, if you have a lot of intra-abdominal fat you might have to slim down before having a tummy tuck. “Men may have to shave off the beer belly before having the tummy tuck,” says Dr. Smith. He adds that sometimes women add weight to the mid-section in a different way. “We can suction the tissues and remove some superficial fat and internal fat is not a problem with women, so we can get their tummies nice and flat.”

An Improved Procedure

You must have realistic expectations going into a tummy tuck, along with a good attitude. In this procedure, a surgeon will remove loose skin and tighten up abdominal muscles with sutures. Tummy tucks were often referred to as “popular, but painful.” However, new methods with improved pain management are helping patients heal more quickly. Smith is using a cutting edge pain product, called Exparel. “We inject it in the skin and it lasts about 72 hours. Most moms who have had c-sections say that procedure was worse than a tummy tuck because of the Exparel.” Smith says the operation is more advanced than it used to be and patients aren’t nearly as uncomfortable in recovery, because of improved methods.

Your surgeon will use all of these advances to make the operation as smooth as possible and your new look as pleasing as possible. “The procedure of tummy tuck has really been revolutionized, within the last few years,” says Smith.

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