Why is it that after we have experience the miracle and the difficulty of birthing a child, that we are “rewarded” with stretch marks, loose sagging skin and general yuck in the midsection?

Or you have struggled since the beginning of time to obtain washboard abs, and no matter how many crunches you do, it ain’t happening.

Fortunately, God…errr…cosmetic surgeons invented the blessed tummy tuck.

How Does a Tummy Tuck Work?

Abdominoplasty, the official name of the tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgery that flattens your midsection by surgically removing excess fat and skin. It also tightens abdominal wall muscles and reduces the waistline by repairing the abdominus rectus muscles.

This is done through a long incision that extends across the abdomen from hip to hip. In this way, the surgeon removes the saggy skin and excess fat at the bottom of your abdomen and pulls down the nice, un-stretched skin from higher up and sutures it down low, after making you a new belly button, of course.

How Do I Prepare for Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Do your homework. As with the other procedures discussed on this site, use a board certified cosmetic surgeon with lots of experience. A good surgeon will spend a lot of time with you before your surgery, taking a comprehensive medical history, doing a full physical exam and measuring your abdomen, as well as discussing your expectations. As always, ask to see before and after photos.

Because a tummy tuck is a more extensive surgery than others, your surgical preparation may also include a presurgical workup, including bloodwork.

Make sure to discuss with your surgeon all the medications you are taking, including herbal supplements and vitamins. Most surgeons will also give you an eating plan and recommend you cease smoking if you do.

Your surgeon will go over risks associated with cosmetic surgery, including infection, hematoma, blood clot, anesthesia risks, insufficient healing, etc. You can minimize your risks by choosing a reputable surgeon and following his or her instructions exactly.

What Can I Expect During the Surgery?

Tummy tucks are done under general anesthesia: you will be asleep the whole time.

What Can I Expect During Recovery?

Tummy tuck and abdominal liposuction is a big surgery: there will be considerable recovery time. An average recovery time is one to three weeks before returning to work and normal activities. In addition, many patients elect an overnight stay in the hospital.

You will be understandably swollen and sore after you surgery, your surgeon will prescribe pain medication that include narcotics.

Your surgeon will advise you on return to exercise after your tummy liposuction and other procedures. Normally, tummy tuck patients can return to light activity after four weeks, and after eight weeks, can resume normal activity.

Don’t panic: the scars will look worse before they look better! It can take 9 months for them to lighten and fade. There are creams your doctor can prescribe to hasten this process.

The good news is that people who have this procedure rarely need a second one, even if you lose or gain a lot of weight.