What is Abdominoplasty?

After weight loss or pregnancy, it’s quite common to lose definition in the abdominal area. As the body changes size rapidly, it does its best to snap back into the old shape. Sometimes, it doesn’t quite manage it. The result can be a marked “droopy” appearance, as the abdominal tissues sag. Loose skin is another common issue.

This explains the popularity of tummy tuckers. A “tummy tucker” is technically a prosthetic device. That sounds a little intimidating – in reality, it’s a type of tight-fitting clothing that squeezes your body into a more pleasing shape. Just like a corset (which is also technically a prosthetic device). Of course, a tucker isn’t a complete solution, as it only masks the condition.

For many patients, the only way to permanently fix the issue is with abdominoplasty (often referred to as a tummy tick). A tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgery procedure that reduces the excess skin while firming up the abdomen. The muscle and fascia are tightened, resulting in a slimmer, more pleasing appearance.

Quite often, a tummy tuck is recommended as a part of a “mommy makeover” – a complete set of procedures designed to address a woman’s body after childbirth.

Before we dive into a full description of the procedure, we should address a few points concerning plastic surgery.

What is Plastic Surgery?

Plastic surgery can be broadly defined as any surgical procedure that transfers or augments the patient’s existing tissue to change their outward appearance. Quite often people get confused by the term “plastic.”

In this case, plastic means shaping or molding a form – it’s not a reference to a synthetic substance. Plastic surgery doesn’t necessarily mean using artificial implants – quite often the body’s shape can be transformed by transplanting tissues from one area to another, or by removing excess tissue.

Quite often, patients elect to have plastic surgery for cosmetic reasons, but it can also be used to repair damage caused by injury or illness.

For this reason, plastic surgeons often use the terms “cosmetic surgery” and “reconstructive surgery.” However, the procedures used are similar in both cases, and you will find patients for both types of surgery in a center for plastic surgery.

Plastic and reconstructive surgery are highly specialized fields and are regulated in the US by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. The ABPS is itself a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (one of 24).

Its responsibilities include enforcing a strict code of conduct, training and certifying surgeons, and protecting the public interest. They maintain a database of board certified plastic surgeons, which is open to the public, so you can be assured of good plastic surgery.

Cosmetic Surgery Prices

There is a wide variety of cosmetic and reconstructive procedures – plastic surgery prices vary based on the complexity of the procedure, the prestige of the surgeon, and local prices.

A simple Google search for “how much does a tummy tuck cost” or “how much is a tummy tuck”, or even “how much does liposuction cost” will reveal a wide range of different price points from across the nation (and, indeed, across the globe).

So the exact tummy tuck prices will vary from state to state. For these reasons, some patients prefer to travel out of state for surgery.

However, tummy tuck cost is not the only factor to balance. As with all things, the cheapest option is not always the best – it pays to do a little research before you contact a clinic.

A quick perusal of online tummy tuck photos will show that paying a little more can often lead to a more pleasing result. The same is true for cheap liposuction. On the other hand, there are outstanding surgeons who charge less than the average price.

As a general yardstick, the average price for a tummy tuck is $5,502. And the average cost of liposuction is just over $3,000 – although this depends on how extensively it is applied. The average liposuction price is less useful as a yardstick as some patients only require a little, whereas others require extensive treatment.

If you are considering plastic surgery, there are many online resources you can turn to. There are numerous plastic surgery forums where you can see pictures of patients before and after plastic surgery. Most clinics have websites where you can read more about the individual surgeons and view examples of their work – including tummy tuck before and after photos.

And you can search consumer review sites for feedback from other patients.

Tummy tuck pictures on a clinic’s website can be very appealing, but sometimes they are carefully edited to remove tummy tuck scars. Furthermore, as with any surgery, the outward appearance is not the only important issue. Consumer reviews will tell you much about the clinic’s level of professionalism and the quality of their after-surgery care.

In the case of reconstructive surgery, it may be possible to claim the costs from your health insurer. This does depend on your individual circumstances and the exact terms of your insurance.

Cosmetic surgery costs are usually not covered by insurance, as cosmetic procedures are considered “elective” surgery – i.e. they are not vital to your health.

In other words, an insurer is more likely to cover facial reconstruction than a breast augmentation surgery.

There are a number of lenders who specialize in plastic surgery financing, so there is an option to spread the cost of the procedure over time if you are unable to pay a lump sum. Many clinics have an existing relationship with a lender and can help you to find favorable terms.

The Procedure

If you have made the decision to go ahead with your tuck, it pays to learn a little about the procedure ahead of time. That way you will be better prepared on the day.

Your surgeon will consult with you before the procedure, and outline the approach based on your requirements and preferences. In some cases, the surgeon may suggest a different procedure – we’ll take a look at some alternatives later in this article.

In most cases, the procedure is performed under a general anesthetic, although your surgeon may suggest intravenous sedation instead.

The next step is to make an abdominal incision – the exact shape and length of the incision will depend on the amount of loose skin. The doctor may need to make a second incision around the navel, as well. Again, this depends on your particular case.

In all cases, the surgeon will be looking to minimize any scarring and reduce the tummy tuck recovery time.

Following the incisions, the skin is tightened, and the excess skin is removed. The remaining skin is then joined together using sutures.

At this stage, the surgeon will usually make a new opening for the belly button.

Finally, the incisions are closed so they can heal cleanly.

Aftercare is as important as the surgery itself, and it’s important to take it easy following an operation. Your surgeon will ensure you are given the care you need and will advise you on important issues such as pregnancy after tummy tuck.

Alternatives to Tummy Tucks

Often, a surgeon will recommend a different procedure which is more appropriate for your individual case. There is a wide range of options available, and sometimes abdominoplasty is not the best choice.

Alternatives include body contouring surgery, body lift surgery, liposuction, or fat transfer. In some cases, to see the best results, you will need a combination of surgical procedures. These will usually be performed over a longer period of time, as it’s important not to place too much stress on the body – it needs time to recover from surgery.

Similar to abdominoplasty, body contouring surgery is designed to reduce the effect of sagging skin and support tissues. As the name implies, body contouring addresses the form of the entire body – it’s more extensive. It can include a tummy tuck, in addition to a breast lift (mastopexy), arm lifts, a medial thigh lift, and even a facelift or mini face lift.

Body lift surgery, on the other hand, deals with the abdomen, buttocks (butt lift), and thighs. In addition to removing excess skin and firming up the supporting tissues, it can also remove skin dimpling, leading to a more regular skin surface.

Quite often, body lifting is recommended together with liposuction. Lipo is a type of fat removal surgery that uses suction to target excess fat from in specific areas. The overall goal is not weight loss – instead, the surgery aims to sculpt the body’s contours.

Liposuction is a unisex procedure – male liposuction is in high demand. Liposuction for men is essentially the same as female lipo – the same techniques and procedures are employed.

Liposuction has the advantage of treating multiple areas in a single session. It can be applied to many different areas of the body – abdominal liposuction is popular, but you can also get neck liposuction or thigh liposuction.

Face liposuction is often used alongside a facelift. Arm liposuction can play a role in body sculpting. As the procedure is quite precise, small areas can be targeted – chin liposuction is another popular option.

Liposuction stomach procedures are often performed together with a tummy tuck or body contouring.

There are several different techniques, and your surgeon will choose the one that is best suited to your physiology. Most procedures use a cannula (or hollow tube) to remove excess fat from beneath the skin. A small incision is made in each treated area – as the incision is very small, the potential for scarring is reduced.

There are variations on the basic procedure, such as tumescent liposuction. With the tumescent technique, a dilute solution of local anesthetic is injected directly into the fat tissue. This causes it to swell up. The local anesthetic in the solution removes the need for a general anesthetic, and the swelling reduces the chance of bleeding during the procedure.

In fact, it’s common for patients to only lose a single tablespoon of blood during the procedure.

Smart lipo is a hybrid technique, combining laser lipo (a nonsurgical procedure) and a cannula to remove the molten fat. In some areas, the cannula is not necessary at all. Smart lipo reduces the need for suction to break down fat deposits and tends to reduce the recovery time.

The smart lipo cost will vary depending on the nature of the procedure – where it applied, and how extensively. However, it’s quite consistent with the average price of liposuction and has a number of benefits (mentioned above).

There are also nonsurgical liposuction options. Instead of directly removing fat from the body, these procedures use energy transfer to break down fat deposits, which are then naturally eliminated. Examples of nonsurgical lipo include laser lipo and ultrasonic liposuction.

The procedure can be performed under a local or general anesthetic – depending on how extensive it will be.

Liposuction results are immediate, although there may be some swelling which will reduce in a few days. These results are quite striking – a quick glance at liposuction before and after photographs will impress on you how effective the procedure is.

Other Cosmetic Surgery Options

Cosmetic surgeons are skilled in a range of procedures beyond abdominal surgery. When you find your ideal surgeon, you may be interested in some of the other options available. These include:

Facial Cosmetic Surgery

* Facelifts
* Mini face lift
* Eye lift
* Cheek augmentation
* Double chin surgery
* Forehead lift
* Eye surgery
* Eyelid surgery (blepharoplasty)
* Nose plastic surgery (rhinoplasty)
* Ear pinning
* Otoplasty (sculpting the appearance of the ear)
* Facial implants (including chin implant)

Facial surgery is often complemented by neck lift surgery.

Prices for facial cosmetic surgeries vary widely from clinic to clinic. As a baseline figure, the average face lift cost in 2015 was $6,652.

Gynecomastia Surgery

Gynecomastia surgery (or male breast reduction) is a procedure for removing overdeveloped breast tissue in males. The result is a flatter, more masculine chest. The average gynecomastia surgery cost is $3,345.

Breast Cosmetic Surgery

Breast enhancement surgery is very popular, from breast implants to enlarge breasts (commonly called “boob jobs”) to breast lifts and breast reduction surgery.

There are several approaches to breast enlargement. Fat grafts use the patient’s own fat tissue to enhance the size and shape of the breast. Breast implants use a silicone or saline implant to produce an aesthetic breast increase.

Both procedures are often used in breast reconstruction surgery – a procedure which is often applied following breast cancer treatment.

In the case of breast reconstruction, your surgeon will make a decision based on the patient’s physiology. In some cases, fat grafts may not be an option – in that case, implants are more than adequate for the task.

Breast augmentation prices are just as variable as the procedures mentioned above. For the sake of comparison, here are some averages:

* Average fat graft breast augmentation cost: $6,100
* Average breast lift cost: $4,419
* Typical breast implants cost: $3,822

Calf Implants

Legs hold a special aesthetic appeal for many. The form of the calf is largely defined by the muscles beneath the skin. Calf implants enhance the muscle definition and are a popular choice for men and women.

The average cost of this treatment is between $4,500 and $6,000 when you include the price of anesthesia.

Abdominoplasty can make a huge positive impact on your appearance. As you can see, there are many available options that go beyond the basic tummy tuck. A qualified and skilled plastic surgeon can help you to understand which options are best suited to your physiology.