Should I Lose Weight Before a Tummy Tuck?
“Should I lose weight before…” is another really common question in plastic surgery. Today we’re going to talk about losing weight before a tummy tuck. Before we get into the details, however, you need to understand exactly what a tummy tuck, aka, abdominoplasty, actually does.
What is a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck accomplishes two goals:
- It removes loose skin.
- It tightens abdominal muscles (repair of a rectus diastasis).
An incision is made from hip-to-hip, and the skin is lifted up all the way up to the ribs. The belly button, or umbilicus, is left attached to the underlying abdominal muscles. The two six-pack muscles, called the rectus muscles, are sutured together in the midline to tighten them. Then the excess skin is removed and the belly button is brought out through a new hole in the skin. You can read a more thorough description of this process in my post on abdominoplasty vs. mini-abdominoplasty. Liposuction of the waist is commonly done at the same time, but this technically isn’t part of a tummy tuck.
But there are four reasons your stomach may not be flat.
If you’ve read my post on what causes belly fat, you know that there are two other reasons your stomach may not be flat: intra-abdominal fat and subcutaneous fat.
Fat can be stored in two places in your mid-section: under the skin (subcutaneous) and inside the actual abdominal cavity (intra-abdominal fat). A tummy tuck doesn’t do anything to remove this fat. It is possible to do some conservative liposuction at the same time, but there’s a limit to how much fat I can safely remove. And if the fat is intra-abdominal, weight loss is the only way to get rid of it.
So should I lose weight before a tummy tuck?
If you have a lot of excess fat, then yes, losing weight prior to surgery will give you a better result. “A lot” is pretty subjective, but I generally recommend if you need to lose more than 20 pounds, try to lose that first before considering a tummy tuck. If you just a little excess fat, liposuction several months prior to a tummy tuck may also be an option, depending on where the fat is distributed.
Still not sure? Schedule a consultation with a plastic surgeon and find out what the best option is for your particular situation.
Want to learn more about weight loss? Sign up for my free online weight loss masterclass!
Dr. Greer is a Plastic Surgeon who practices in Cleveland, OH. Her passion is helping moms regain self-confidence by getting rid of sagginess, wrinkles, and stubborn fat. Read more about her at www.greerplastics.org.
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