Plastic Surgeons of Alaska
Alaska Regional Hospital
2741 Debarr Road #215
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 563-2002
Fax: (907) 562-7628
Monday–Friday: 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Our Anchorage plastic surgeons perform abdominoplasty, often called a tummy tuck, to help patients from the Kenai Peninsula and Wasilla, Palmer, and other Mat-Su Valley communities restore a tighter, flatter stomach. This procedure is popular with people who have had one or more pregnancies or lost a significant amount of weight.
Before & After Photos
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What Is Abdominoplasty?
Abdominoplasty is a body sculpting surgery that removes lax skin and excess fat from the abdomen and tightens the abdominal wall muscles. Abnormalities of the abdominal wall such as hernias or split muscles, which can be seen after pregnancy, can also be addressed with this operation. Abdominoplasty does not reduce fullness in the flank area (hips) or lift the breasts.
Ideal Tummy Tuck Candidates
The best tummy tuck candidates are healthy adults who do not need to lose weight. If you smoke, you should be prepared to stop for 2 weeks before and 3 weeks after surgery. People choose this procedure for one or more of the following improvements:
- Tightening loose, sagging belly skin
- Repairing stretched and separated abdominal muscles
- Reshaping the bellybutton
- Removing stretch marks below the bellybutton
Combining Abdominoplasty With Other Procedures
Our surgeons can address multiple concerns with a single surgery and recovery period by combining abdominoplasty with other procedures, often called a mommy makeover. Common procedure choices include:
Your surgeon will create a personalized surgical plan during your private consultation to help you safely achieve your cosmetic goals.
Tummy Tuck Incision Placement
This operation requires an incision directly above the pubic region and extends outward toward the hip bones. The length of the incision will be determined by the amount of skin to be removed. The incision is placed low enough to be covered by underwear and swimsuits, so the scar will be well hidden once healed. Having a flattened midsection is generally accepted as being a worthwhile tradeoff for the easily concealed scar.
Your Abdominoplasty Procedure
Abdominoplasty may be done as day surgery with the option of spending one night in the hospital. It takes from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours and requires a general anesthetic to do the operation.
Once the incision is made, the skin of the abdomen is elevated to the level of the ribs, staying out of the actual abdominal cavity. The abdominal muscles are then sewn together to tighten the abdominal wall.
The excess skin and fat tissue are measured and removed. The remaining skin, having been elevated and released, is pulled down towards the pubis. Sutures are then placed to close the wound. Drains will be placed beneath the skin to remove any blood or serum that may accumulate. You will be placed in an abdominal “binder” to further secure the area and lessen the amount of fluid accumulation.
You will need an adult friend or family member to drive you home and care for you for the first few days after your surgery. You will not be able to stand completely upright and will need to sleep propped up with pillows or in a recliner. Actual experiences vary with the specifics of the surgery and individual patient factors. Here is a general timeline of what to expect:
First Few Days
- Expect fatigue and abdominal tightness.
- Discomfort can be controlled with prescription medication.
- Take short gentle walks throughout the day to promote circulation and healing.
5 to 7 Days
- Sutures are removed during a post-op visit.
- Pain medication is typically no longer needed.
7 to 10 Days
- Drains are removed in the office.
- Begin to stand upright.
1 to 3 Weeks
- Return to nonstrenuous work and activities.
- Walking upright is easier.
- Compression garments may no longer be needed.
6 to 8 Weeks
- Resume strenuous exercises (may take longer if fluid persists).
- Abdominal tightness relaxes.
- Sleeping face down becomes more comfortable.
- Numbness of the abdominal wall fades.
- Final abdominal contour is attained (once swelling has dissipated).
Be sure to contact our office if you have questions or concerns at any point in your recovery. You may heal more quickly or slowly than outlined above.
Meet Our Surgeons
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Is Tummy Tuck Surgery Safe?
In any operation, there are risks to be considered. With abdominoplasty, these include bleeding, infection, numbness, pain or discomfort, widening of the scars, thick or ugly scars, areas of fullness or asymmetry, reactions to the medications or anesthetics, removal of too much or too little skin or fat, and /or failure to achieve your desired appearance.
What causes delayed healing after a tummy tuck?
Delayed healing may occur because of the effects of impaired blood supply (as some of the blood vessels are interrupted when the skin is elevated during mobilization) and increased tension as the edges of the incision are sewn together at the completion of the operation. Signs of delayed healing include blistering, and in rare cases, the wound may open. This opening may require additional suturing or prolonged local wound care to close the wound. The resultant scar may be wider than desired, and this can be addressed with scar revision surgery if needed. Smoking, diabetes, and obesity are several factors that increase the risk of healing problems.
How can I reduce the risk of complications?
Efforts will be made to reduce the risks of this operation. You must do your part by:
- Following all preoperative and postoperative instructions.
- Keeping all scheduled appointments.
- Reporting any changes in your condition to the office so that treatment may be altered if necessary.
- Understanding that if you smoke, your healing will be delayed and your risk of a complication following your surgery will increase.
Any potential problems could result in the need for additional surgery and recovery time, time lost from work, possible hospitalization, financial loss, disappointment and/or psychological stress to you.
Tummy Tuck vs. Liposuction
Tummy tuck surgery primarily removes excess skin and repairs abdominal muscles to create a firmer, slimmer midsection. Liposuction can address extra pockets of fat in many parts of the body, from the upper arms and back to the hips, flanks, buttocks, and thighs. It is an effective standalone option for those whose concerns are caused by excess fat, and who retain enough skin elasticity that the skin can “shrink back” once the fat is removed. It is also effective when combined with procedures like a tummy tuck so sagging, excess skin can be removed at the same time as excess fat to create flat, smooth contours.
Tummy Tuck FAQ
Will the fat come back after a tummy tuck?
The fat removed during a tummy tuck is gone for good. However, the area’s remaining fat cells can expand with weight gain. For this reason, tummy tuck patients are encouraged to maintain a stable weight following the procedure so they may enjoy their tummy tuck results for years to come.
What is a diastasis recti and how can a tummy tuck help?
Diastasis recti is a separation of the rectus abdominis muscles, and it’s usually caused by pregnancy, rapid weight gain, or improper lifting of heavy weights. A surgeon sutures the muscles together during a tummy tuck to repair the separation and create a flatter-looking tummy.
I’ve heard that you can’t stand up straight after a tummy tuck. Is this true, and how long does this last?
Yes, since the midsection skin is pulled taut down to the incision line during a tummy tuck, it’s important to avoid putting tension on the incision after surgery. Keeping your body slightly hunched or flexed while standing, walking, and sitting reduces the pressure on the incision, allowing it to heal properly. Most patients can straighten a bit after their sutures are removed the week after surgery and gradually work up to a fully straight posture.
Is there anything I should avoid after an abdominoplasty?
As mentioned above, do not stretch your torso, stand up straight, or lie completely flat on your back after surgery. If you are a smoker, abstain from tobacco products for several weeks pre and post-op, as smoking impairs healing. In addition, it’s important to refrain from the following as directed by your surgeon:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Consuming alcohol
- Driving while taking prescription pain medication
- Exposing your incision to direct sunlight
Your surgeon will provide you with additional instructions for your recovery.
Is it normal to have a bulge after a tummy tuck?
Swelling is normal after a tummy tuck, especially in the area just above the incision. This fullness usually resolves with time; if it persists, you may need a secondary procedure usually done in the office under local anesthesia. Wearing the abdominal binder will lessen the amount of swelling and hasten your recovery.
Will my scars really be hidden? What if I’m wearing a bikini?
Tummy tuck incisions and their resulting scars are placed very low on the torso—just above the pubic area—so they are easily concealed by underwear and even bikini bottoms.
Do you get a new bellybutton with tummy tuck surgery?
Your bellybutton technically stays the same during tummy tuck surgery, but your surgeon reshapes the navel opening to create a more attractive bellybutton. During the surgery, an incision is made around the bellybutton to release it from the surrounding skin. When the upper abdominal skin is pulled down to the incision line, a new, more appealing opening is made for the bellybutton.