One of the most popular and gratifying body contouring procedures our plastic surgeons perform is abdominoplasty, also called a tummy tuck. At Houston Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery in Houston, Webster, and Pearland, Texas, we offer tummy tuck surgery for women and men who want to correct loose skin and lax muscle tone in the midsection — often the result of pregnancy, weight fluctuation, aging, prior surgery, or even heredity. Tummy tuck isn't a weight loss procedure or a substitute for diet and exercise, but it can be life-changing for individuals who have loose tissue on their abdomens.
If you are considering a tummy tuck and live in League City, Pasadena, or another Greater Houston community, request a consultation online to meet with one of our plastic surgeons to discuss your options. You can call us at (281) 282-9555 to schedule an appointment.
A tummy tuck is a popular surgical procedure with an established track record as a safe and effective way to eliminate excess sagging skin and tighten weakened abdominal muscles. The procedure may improve the appearance of stretch marks, especially those located below the navel. When performed by an experienced plastic surgeon, a tummy tuck can dramatically improve a patient's body image and self-esteem.
"I'm so happy to have my teenage abdomen back again."
"I can't wait to wear a bikini!"
"After losing all that weight, I'm finally proud of my body."
Every tummy tuck is unique in that it is customized to the patient's specific physical characteristics and personal preferences. Generally, your surgeon makes a horizontal incision just above the pubic area where it will be hidden by underwear or a bathing suit (see dashed line in illustration). The length of the incision depends primarily on the amount of skin to be removed. In most cases, a second incision is made around the belly button so that the loose skin above it can be pulled down. The surgeon then separates the skin from the abdominal wall (see shaded area in illustration).
Pregnancy often stretches the abdominal muscles to the point where they separate along the center of the abdomen and cause the belly to protrude. During the surgery, your surgeon will repair this area by bringing the separated muscles and fascia of the abdominal wall back together (see illustration) and securing them in place with permanent sutures.
Next, the surgeon pulls the abdominal skin downward and removes any excess skin along with stretch marks on its surface (see illustration). Any remaining stretch marks will usually lie below the belly button when the surgery is complete. In many cases, the surgeon will use the advanced progressive tension suture technique, sometimes called the no-drain tummy tuck, to secure the abdominal skin and tissues vertically from the top of the abdomen to the lower abdomen. The belly button is inserted through a small incision in its new location on the abdomen, and the incision is carefully closed with fine sutures. The horizontal incision is then stitched closed.
At Houston Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, drainless tummy tuck surgery is available under the appropriate circumstances. This approach uses a special kind of internal suturing to close the "open space" where fluid can accumulate after surgery. By closing this space, fluid does not have a place to build up, making drains unnecessary. Your surgeon will help you determine if this option is a good choice for you.
Our doctors often combine body contouring procedures to provide more dramatic results, especially for women who want to get back their pre-pregnancy bodies. The combination of a tummy tuck with liposuction and breast augmentation or a breast lift is often referred to as a mommy makeover. Our doctors often perform liposuction of the upper abdomen and flanks, or "muffin top," during the tummy tuck procedure to enhance the waist and overall results. (This combination is often called lipoabdominoplasty.)
We also offer the option of using fat that is removed during liposuction to sculpt and improve other areas like the buttocks – known as a Brazilian Butt Lift.
It is important to realize that recovery after a tummy tuck varies from patient to patient. When you wake up from your surgery, you may have surgical drains. The need for drains depends on whether the progressive tension suture technique was used, whether liposuction was performed at the same time as your tummy tuck, and the amount of abdominal tissue removed. You will have bandages on the incision and a compression garment around your abdominal area. You will need someone to drive you home and care for you for at least the first 24 hours.
Our tummy tuck patients have access to today's most advanced abdominoplasty options for improved safety and comfort. We offer the "drainless" approach for qualified patients using the progressive tension suture technique. These sutures are made in a quilted pattern and run vertically down the surgical area. This technique closes the space between the skin and the muscle below, preventing the fluid buildup that would otherwise require drains. Advantages include:
We also offer post-op pain relief with a single application of EXPAREL® during the surgery. This local anesthetic lasts for about 3 days and has been shown to significantly decrease postoperative pain after a tummy tuck. We provide detailed postoperative instructions about changing surgical dressings, caring for drains, and showering.
Your sutures and surgical drains will be removed during a follow-up appointment about 7 to 10 days after surgery. Our doctors use a unique type of drain that easily slips out, making the removal process painless. These follow-up appointments also give your doctor a chance to monitor your healing progress and you a chance to ask questions, although we encourage you to call our practice anytime you have concerns.
Depending on the extent of the surgery and your general physical condition before the operation, you may be able to return to non-strenuous work anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks after surgery. Recovery is generally shorter for a mini tummy tuck.
In many instances, you can resume most of your routine activities, including some form of light exercise, after a few weeks. You may continue to experience some mild, periodic discomfort and swelling during this time, so listen to your body and take it slowly.
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You may be a good candidate for abdominoplasty if you have one or more of the following conditions:
A tummy tuck isn't appropriate for patients who plan to have children or to lose significant weight in the future.
Your surgeon examines your abdomen thoroughly, assessing your skin tone and the degree of loose skin in the abdominal region. Excess abdominal fat and the condition of your abdominal muscles are also assessed. Be prepared to discuss your medical history at your consultation, including information about any medical conditions, drug allergies, past medical treatments, pregnancies, previous surgeries and medications you currently take.
There are many variations both to the design of the incisions and the technique itself. In some instances, it may be possible to avoid an incision around the navel. When the amount of loose skin is minimal and the excess fat deposits are located below the navel, a short horizontal incision is all that is necessary. This procedure is called a partial or mini abdominoplasty.
In general, this procedure is considered cosmetic, and isn't covered by health insurance. We do offer payment options to finance your procedure.
In the Houston area, the price for a tummy tuck typically ranges from $7,800 to $9,500 but varies from patient to patient depending on factors such as the complexity of your surgery and whether you have it combined with other procedures. We encourage patients to consider qualifications and experience over price when having any plastic surgery procedure to optimize your safety and the quality of your results. You will be given a written quote for the actual cost of your procedure following your consultation. The price will include:
We encourage patients to take short walks starting the day of surgery to promote good blood circulation. You may not be able to stand straight, but moving around will help prevent the formation of blood clots. Avoid straining, bending, reaching, and lifting because these activities might increase swelling or even cause tearing or bleeding. You may be instructed to sleep in a semi-reclined position.
The bruising and much of the swelling disappears over a period of a few weeks. However, it may be months before all swelling subsides and you see the final result of your tummy tuck. You may also notice some numbness over portions of the abdominal area, and this may persist for several months. Incisions initially will be red or pink and will remain this way for many months following surgery.
Abdominoplasty enhances your body contours by making your abdomen firmer and flatter, and your waist narrower. You may find that you feel more comfortable in your clothing and are more confident about your appearance. Incisions heal and fade over time, but it's important to understand that incision lines will not fully disappear. Certain patients may have incision lines that are more noticeable. Fortunately, the incisions for your abdominoplasty are usually located where they're concealed by most bathing suits and undergarments.
Unless you gain or lose a significant amount of weight or become pregnant, your abdomen should remain firmer and flatter indefinitely.
With Dr. Clayton Moliver, Dr. Fred Aguilar, Dr. Soumo Banerji, and Dr. Virginia Pittman, our practice is the proud home of four of the top plastic surgeons in the Houston area. Their combined expertise has brought beautiful results to thousands of patients — all with a genuine, 1-on-1 approach.Meet Dr. Clayton Moliver Meet Dr. Fred Aguilar Meet Dr. Soumo Banerji Meet Dr. Virginia Pittman