The Skinny on Tummy Tucks

Imagine never having to do another sit-up ever again. That sounds too good to be true, and also a little like a line straight out of an infomercial, but it is a very real and happy byproduct of a tummy tuck.

Most people seek a tummy tuck procedure to get rid of excess skin of the abdomen, often due to multiple childbirths, extreme weight loss or natural loosening of skin with age. But the procedure does more than just remove excess fat and skin of the abdomen; it brings separated muscles of the abdominal wall back together leaving a smooth, firm midline that no amount of sit-ups or crash diets could ever achieve.

With sutures, it takes two or three minutes to make the abdomen firm, and the days of countless sit-ups are behind you. To me, the muscle tightening is the best part of the procedure.

People who suffer from back pain also report less pain after a tummy tuck due to a tighter core.


What to expect

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, takes about three hours in the operating room with an overnight stay in the hospital. Patients typically go home the next day. Injecting long-lasting numbing medicine into the muscles and skin surrounding the abdominal area cuts down pain for up to three days post-surgery.

One or more drains placed at the incision site help prevent fluid build-up. The drains will remain in place for at least a week and you will receive instructions on how to care for them at home.

Most patients will fit into pant sizes two or three sizes smaller overnight and after three weeks can resume regular activity. After you have completely healed from your abdominoplasty it will be safe to resume your exercise regimen—it’s up to you to decide if sit-ups are part of it.

After six weeks, you should be fully healed with one scar around the belly button and one low-lying scar in the bikini area. Even when you wear shorts, a bikini or underwear, you won’t see the scar at all.


Ideal candidates

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, you may be a perfect tummy tuck candidate if:

  • You are personally bothered by the appearance of your abdomen; you don’t feel pressured into the procedure to meet someone else’s desires or fit an ideal image
  • You have realistic expectations of the outcome of the procedure
  • You are a non-smoker
  • You are physically healthy and at a stable weight


I require all of my patients to have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of less than 30. If your BMI is greater than 30, consult with your primary care provider who may refer you to a dietician.

Dr. James Motlagh, CVPH Plastic Surgeon, offers highly skilled, personalized care using the latest reconstructive and plastic surgery techniques to treat a wide range of conditions.  Click here to watch Dr. Motlagh talk about the procedures he performs and the care he provides his patients.

“My approach is to listen carefully to patients' needs and concerns and address each one of them to his/her satisfaction. Together, we will set realistic goals for procedure outcomes and follow up carefully and as much as needed so each patient feels like they are family.”