Karol Gutowski, MD, FACS

Questions? Call Ellen: 773-985-3993

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Are you a candidate for a flatter tummy? Learn about tummy tucks & what to expect before you meet Dr Gutowski in person.


A flat, well-toned abdomen is something many of us strive to achieve through exercise and weight control, but regardless of effort, sometimes even individuals of normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes with loose, sagging skin that may hang over or below the waistline. The most common causes of these conditions include pregnancy, heredity, or significant fluctuations in weight. If you are bothered by a protruding abdomen that does not respond to diet or exercise, a tummy tuck may be right for you. In general, a tummy tuck restores a flatter, firmer appearance to the abdomen, to improve your body contours and ultimately enhance your self image. A tummy tuck is a cosmetic procedure, one you elect to improve your personal appearance, technically called Abdominoplasty, a Tummy Tuck can improve the appearance of the upper and lower abdomen by reducing excess, sagging skin and tissues. The procedure can also correct diastasis, a condition in which the abdominal muscles have separated. A tummy tuck can be modified to address more limited conditions of excess fat and skin localized in the lower abdomen.

Lipoplasty may be recommended in conjunction with a tummy tuck to reduce excess, localized fat and to reshape the love handles or waistline. Where excess fat is the only factor in skin tone is good, Lipoplasty, commonly known as liposuction, maybe recommended as an alternative to reshape your abdomen. This program represents an overview of Abdominoplasty or Tummy Tuck. It is not a substitute for a complete consultation with a plastic surgeon certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. A consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon, a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, who may also be a member of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery is the first step to learn how a tummy tuck can enhance your appearance and improve your self-image. In general, a consultation will include a discussion of your goal, an evaluation of your individual case. And the options available to you.

Your surgeon will also discuss the course of treatment recommended for you, the likely outcomes of a tummy tuck and any potential risks associated with the procedure. Your plastic surgeon will answer any questions you may have about Abdominoplasty. During the consultation, you will be asked share your expectations for surgery and your personal health history. Full disclosure of your health history is important for your safety. You should inform your physician of any life-threatening illness or medical conditions in your family. You must also be candid about your current medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. Abdominoplasty is best performed on healthy adult men and women who are generally close to their ideal body weight. Good candidates for a tummy tuck are individuals who do not have a life threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing. A positive outlook with specific and realistic goals for improvement of your appearance is essential. Pregnancy or significant fluctuations in weight can affect the improvement achieved through a tummy tuck.

You may be advised to postpone your procedure if you are planning future pregnancies, or if you are not at a stable and relatively normal weight for your body type and build. If you smoke, you are at increased risk of poor healing, including the formation of irregular scars, and therefore it is advisable to stop smoking for several weeks before and after surgery. Certain health conditions may require special precautions for individuals considering a tummy tuck. These conditions include cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, or certain other circulatory disorders in diabetes. By making a decision to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon, and following physician recommendations, you are taking an important step in helping to ensure your safety. A board-certified plastic surgeon is a physician who is specifically trained in plastic surgery of the face and entire body. Prior to your procedure, you will be asked to sign informed consent documents.

These documents assure that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo, the potential risks and complications. In addition, you must commit to precisely following all of the instructions you were given. Instructions include presurgical considerations such as testing and medications, day of surgery requirements, medications, and specific information related to the use of anesthesia. Prior to surgery, it is important to discuss all your questions and convey to your surgeon any concerns you may have regarding your surgery. Abdominoplasty may be performed in an accredited, office-based surgical facility in ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital. A tummy tuck is most commonly performed under general anesthesia. However, in some cases, local anesthesia with sedation may be used. The decision for anesthesia will be based on the requirements of your specific procedure, any additional procedures that may be performed in the same surgical session and considerations of patient and surgeon preference.

A tummy tuck may be performed in conjunction with other surgical procedures. More commonly, these procedures include Lipoplasty, a buttock or thigh lift, surgery to improve the size, shape, or position of your breasts, or other cosmetic procedures. Multiple procedures can increase the length and complexity of surgery and therefore can increase risk of complications. Discuss this thoroughly with your plastic surgeon. A Tummy Tuck is a surgical procedure requiring a horizontal incision in the area between the naval and the pubic bone. The length of the incision is determined by the amount of correction necessary to achieve your goals, and more specifically the amount of skin to be reduced. The incision may be only a few inches in length, may extend from hip to hip, or may extend beyond the hip to achieve optimal results.

A second incision around the navel may be necessary to correct excess skin in the upper abdomen. Through the incision, weakened abdominal muscles will be repaired if necessary. Excess fat will be removed, using surgical or Lipoplasty techniques, and excess tissue and skin will be removed. Your incisions will be closed with sutures or surgical clips. Following your Tummy Tuck, you may have small, thin tubes placed in your incisions to drain any excess fluid that accumulates, or you may be placed in a compression garment, or wrapped in elastic bandages to reduce swelling. Before being released, you and an accompanying family member, friend, or caregiver will be given specific instructions and signs to watch for in the treated regions and in your overall health. Standing fully upright may be uncomfortable and may stress any internal sutures as they heal. For this reason, you may be instructed to maintain a somewhat bent position and to sleep with pillows, elevating your knees.

Your plastic surgeon will advise you to begin light walking immediately after your procedure, and to engage in light walking every two to three hours regularly in the first few days after a Tummy Tuck. Other instructions may include drain care, wound care, and wearing compression stockings to prevent the formation of blood clots in the legs. Follow all instructions carefully. This is essential to the success of your outcome. You will also be instructed when to follow up with your plastic surgeon. Following a tummy tuck, you may experience numbness, swelling, bruising, and soreness. In addition, your skin may feel unusually firm. These are all common conditions. Postoperative discomfort can be controlled with medications. Complications associated with a tummy tuck include blood clots in the legs, blood pooling beneath the skin or hematoma, fluid accumulation or seroma, and infection or poor healing of the incision site. All surgery carries risks associated with anesthesia.

Depending on the extent of your Tummy Tuck, you can expect to be up and about within a few days after surgery. Initial healing of incisions may take five to 10 days, at which time any sutures or clips will be removed if necessary. Healing will continue for several weeks to months as swelling continues to resolve, and your new contours take shape. During this time, while it is important to remain active, you should not engage in any lifting, bending, pushing, or strenuous fitness until your plastic surgeon has given you clearance to return to a normal activity. The results of a tummy tuck are generally permanent, as long as you maintain a stable weight and healthy lifestyle, including eating well and a regular fitness routine. Diligent sun protection is essential in the first year following your Tummy Tuck, to prevent pigment irregularities in darkening of surgical scars. Choosing to undergo a Tummy Tuck or any plastic surgery procedure, whether cosmetic or reconstructive, is an important decision. So is selecting a plastic surgeon.

Not all doctors who perform plastic surgery, or who use the title of plastic surgeon, are board-certified in plastic surgery in order to be certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery of physician must graduate from an accredited medical school, and then complete a minimum of five years of surgical training, including an accredited plastic surgery residency program. The physician must pass a comprehensive written and oral exam in order to become a board-certified plastic surgeon. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, have prepared this educational program to supplement your personal consultation with a plastic surgeon, who is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. Plastic surgeons with this certification have completed approved surgical training and rigorous examinations in plastic surgery, including both cosmetic and reconstructive procedures of the face and entire body.