Are you tired of dieting and exercising, particularly doing sit-ups, and are still not getting the taut tummy you want? Do you have some stubborn flab or excess skin in the abdominal area? If this is the case, you may consider undergoing an abdominoplasty or tummy tuck operation which flattens your abdomen by removing excess skin and fat and tightening the surrounding abdominal muscles. 

picture man before after abdominoplasty

As this is a major surgery, it’s better to first learn all you can about it before making your final decision. And do remember, it should be the last resort to be used only after trying all other measures, and should not be used as a weight loss alternative. It however is popular amongst women who have sagging skin as a result of past pregnancies or extreme weight loss.

The best candidate

Both men and women who are free from medical conditions and are in good health are perfect candidates for an abdominoplasty. It’s better if you are not a smoker, and are emotionally stable and hold realistic expectations of the surgery. 

Though it is best for women with sagging skin after past pregnancies, women should undergo the surgery only they don’t plan to have any future pregnancies. Future pregnancies will only negate the surgery results. 


Its better if you lose some weight and are as close to your ideal weight as possible before the surgery. This helps reduce the surgery risks while improving results. If you smoke, you need to stop smoking for at least two weeks before and four weeks after the surgery. Do not use any nicotine gum and patches at least a fortnight before and after surgery as smoking only increases the risks of complications and delays the healing process.

If you take any medicine or dietary supplements, your surgeon will determine if you need to stop taking some of them for some time before and after the surgery. 

The tummy tuck procedure

An abdominoplasty typically requires one to five hours to complete which is determined based on the complexity of your situation. It will take about 2 hours for a mini tummy tuck, and about 3-5 hours for a full abdominoplasty. It is performed under general anesthesia, so you won’t feel much pain during the surgery.

The surgeon will make an incision under the belly button, just above the pubic bone to remove excess fat and skin. After removing the excess fat, the skin above the belly button is pulled down and stitched to close the incision.

After the surgery

As anesthesia is used, you need someone to drive you home after the surgery. You will also need someone to stay with you at least for the first night after the surgery, if your surgeon sends you home after the surgery. 

You can expect some tolerable tightness and swelling in the abdominal region in the first few weeks after the surgery. Your surgeon will prescribe some pain medicine and muscle relaxers to help you control your pain. 

You may also be advised to wear an elastic bandage or compression garment after the surgery. It’s important you follow your surgeon’s care instructions, and how you should position yourself while sitting or lying down to minimize pain and discomfort.

What about scars?

You can expect a permanent scar where the incision was made. But a good and experienced surgeon will place it as low as possible, so that it’s not that visible. It’s usually made below the waistline in the pubic hair which you can hide with your regular bikini bottoms after surgery. The scars generally improve with time. 

However a full abdominoplasty surgery usually removes the stretch marks located between the pubic area and belly button. It however does not remove stretch marks above the belly button; they are just moved to a lower location. 

Recovery time

You will need to take some rest from work for a few weeks immediately after the surgery. Though you may return to normal within 2-3 months, it’s advised to not do any rigorous exercise or heavy weight lifting for at least 6 weeks. 

You will need to wear comfortable and loose clothes which you can easily take on and off. Its better if you have a telephone within reachable distance and if you buy all your prescription medicine before the surgery so that you needn’t depend on anyone to buy it for you. You just have to ensure you are comfortable before you undergo the surgery. 

Are the results long-lasting?

This depends on your body. If you do not gain any excess weight or get pregnant again after your surgery, you can expect the results of the surgery to be permanent. Of course, nothing can be done about the natural aging process, and skin laxity which takes place with time. 

How long after a pregnancy can I have a tummy tuck?

A woman’s body needs time to stabilize after a pregnancy, and varies between women. While six months is a common time-frame, your doctor will be the best judge, and for best results, do consider having the surgery only after your body has completely recovered and is stabilized after the pregnancy.

Is it possible to tone lose abdominal skin and muscles without surgery?

Unfortunately, no. this is because once the abdominal skin and muscles stretch to a certain point, no amount of diet and exercise will help. While liposuction and laser treatments may help remove fat and also tighten skin, it’s only an abdominoplasty which removes excess skin and stretch marks.

Who should avoid the surgery?

Women still planning to have children should avoid the surgery till she’s through having children. This is because though the vertical abdominal muscles are tightened during surgery, the future pregnancies will only separate the muscles to cause a hernia. 

It’s better to avoid a tummy tuck if you are still planning to lose weight. You can plan for the surgery once your weight has stabilized. 

Of course, a scar is unavoidable after an abdominoplasty. So if you don’t want the scar, you may have to reconsider the surgery and discuss your available options with your surgeon.

Possible Side Effects

As with any surgery, an abdominoplasty has its share of risks, which are increased if you have poor circulation, liver, heart or lung disease, diabetes or if you smoke. Complications you can expect are scarring, infection, poor wound healing, blood clots, long-lasting swelling, numbness, fluid accumulation and wound separation.