What you can expect
A tummy tuck is done in a hospital or an outpatient surgical facility. During a tummy tuck, you'll be under general anesthesia — which makes you completely unconscious and unable to feel pain. In some cases, you might be given a pain-relieving medication and be moderately sedated (partially asleep).
Before the procedure
There are a number of different procedures for a tummy tuck, depending on the extent of change you would like to see. During the typical tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon makes incisions to remove most of the skin and fat between your bellybutton and pubic hair in a horizontal oval or elliptical shape. Connective tissue (fascia) that lies over the abdominal muscles is then tightened with permanent sutures.
Your plastic surgeon will then reposition the skin around your bellybutton. Your bellybutton will be brought out through a small incision and sutured in its normal position. The incision from hip to hip above the pubic hair will be stitched together and will leave a scar that falls along the natural crease within the bikini line.
During the procedure you might be given an antibiotic to prevent infection.
The procedure typically takes about two to three hours.
After the procedure
After a tummy tuck, your abdominal incision and bellybutton will likely be covered with surgical dressing. Small tubes might be placed along the incision site to drain any excess blood or fluid.
Members of your health care team will help you walk as early as the first day after a tummy tuck to help prevent the formation of blood clots.
You'll likely feel moderate pain, which will be controlled by pain medication. It's normal to have swelling in the surgical area.
Drains might be left in place for several days after surgery. Your doctor or another member of your health care team will show you how to empty and care for your drains. You might need to continue taking an antibiotic as long as the drains are in place.
Your surgeon might also prescribe a blood-thinning medication for a short time after your tummy tuck.
You'll wear a supportive abdominal garment (abdominal binder) for about six weeks after your tummy tuck. This helps prevent fluid buildup and provides abdominal support while you heal. Your doctor will explain how to care for your scar.
For the first six weeks after a tummy tuck, you'll need to be careful when moving around. You'll also need to avoid positions that strain your incision line — such as quickly bending at the waist — to prevent the reopening of the wound.
You'll need to schedule regular follow-up visits. Ask your doctor how often you need to be seen.