The Most Important Things to Consider When Thinking About Tummy Tuck Surgery, According to a Plastic Surgeon

The Most Important Things to Consider When Thinking About Tummy Tuck Surgery, According to a Plastic Surgeon featured image
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Englewood, NJ plastic surgeon Shwetambara Parakh, MD performs a lot of mommy makeovers, which, in turn, means she performs a lot of tummy tucks. Her specialty: A tummy tuck coupled with lipo-contouring, something she categorizes as “an essential” when it comes to the enhanced, multileveled, more-popular-than-ever surgery. “In general, with almost every single tummy tuck I perform, I do it in conjunction with liposuction,” she explains. 

A tummy tuck can be performed following a major loss of weight, after having children or for anyone who may have loose skin on their abdomen that not even the most diligent efforts of healthy eating and vigorous exercise will address. 

We have asked Dr. Parakh the most common questions and she has shared vital points patients should know if you are considering tummy tuck surgery: 

Can the procedures be done at the same time? 

“Yes, absolutely! Performing the tummy tuck procedure in conjunction with liposuction is truly a comprehensive treatment that achieves a total transformation. It’s important to understand that a traditional tummy tuck addresses the front of the abdomen, leaving you with a flat belly, but doesn’t address your entire trunk area. To achieve an overall improved appearance, you often need to contour everything, which is where liposuction comes in. There are many options for patients to experience this complete transformation—not only in the abdominal area, but also in the area under where the bra strap hits, the love handles and the outer thigh area. Radiofrequency skin tightening can also be done of these areas to further improve the results.”

We know the tummy tuck is typically part of the mommy makeover, but have you been seeing more men interested in the surgery?

“Men aren’t necessarily getting more tummy tucks, unless they have had significant weight loss, but I am definitely seeing many male patients interested in improving their appearance. Popular body contouring options among men tend to be liposuction and BodyTite, which uses radiofrequency to provide fat removal and skin tightening. This procedure is minimally invasive with no downtime, which many of our male patients prefer.”

What is the downtime for a traditional tummy tuck?

“Typically, we say it is about two to three weeks of downtime. At two weeks, most patients feel that they can get back to work, while still wearing their compression garments under clothes. That being said, your complete recovery and final results usually take more than six weeks.”

Should you be at your ideal weight before having a tummy tuck or mommy makeover? Is there anything else that helps with results? 

“My best advice is that you want to be as close to your ideal body weight as possible. That doesn’t mean everyone needs to get to an extremely low BMI, because this ‘ideal body weight’ differs greatly from person to person. In my opinion, a good candidate should be below a BMI of 30, but also in an area of where their body normally sits. It’s not smart to start crash-dieting to get down to a certain weight right before surgery—you want to have a good, stable nutritional status prior to surgery. Tummy tuck, mommy makeover and liposuction surgery are all body contouring procedures, not weight loss procedures, so being as close as possible to your ideal body weight really allows for the best possible results.

Stable weight, good diet and nutrition and a healthy lifestyle all come into play in the healing process. I require my patients to cease smoking at least four weeks prior to surgery, as well as four weeks after surgery. Many people don’t understand the importance of not smoking before and after surgery, but it is imperative to achieve optimal healing. Nicotine causes thousands of small blood vessels that supply the skin to have reduced volume and not supply adequate blood flow to the area. If you have recently been smoking, or are smoking (which includes vaping) following surgery, there is not enough blood supply coming into these small blood vessels. This, in turn, can cause delayed healing, breakdown and infection of your incisions.”

Is there anything else a prospective tummy tuck patient should know?

“The telltale sign of a tummy tuck is your belly button. The main tummy tuck incision is well-hidden low in the bikini line, but the belly button is visible in bikinis and crop tops! I consider the final step in the tummy tuck surgery, which is the inset of the belly button, to be the most crucial and have fine-tuned techniques to make sure that the belly button scar is really tucked-in and looks very natural. From a patient’s perspective, as they are determining who they would like as their surgeon, they should focus on each surgeon’s belly button in the before-and-after photos, and what these look like post-surgery. Regardless of whom you go to for your surgery, I recommend always looking at this piece of the surgical results.”

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