“Right Patient, Right Surgery, Right Time”
In plastics, the abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is one of those procedures that is never going to go out of style. Whatever your reasons for seeking a slimmer torso, you’ve probably wondered if a surgical option is best for you.
Surgeons have a little saying they like to repeat when thinking about whether it’s a good idea to do surgery on a patient: “right patient, right surgery, right time.” It essentially means that in the world of surgery, where stakes can be high and expectations match, you want to make sure that you have a great candidate, that you’re giving them what they need, and that you’re not going to bungle it all up by doing it before they’re ready.
But what does this mean for someone thinking about getting surgery, and what is going through a surgeon’s head when they’re doing an evaluation and making recommendations? Let’s break it down.
Who Is a Tummy Tuck For?
The right patient for a tummy tuck from the surgeon’s perspective is one who is in a stable state of health, whose anatomy will benefit from a tummy tuck, and who has done a bit of research about what kind of results are achievable. First thing’s first: if you’re someone who is currently managing a new diagnosis or whose health is in a state of flux, now is not the time to pursue elective surgery. We recommend waiting until you are at a steady state for long enough that your primary care doctor can recommend you as a surgical candidate – typically that means at least 6 months of no major health events or ongoing medical changes. Trust us: it is definitely not worth it to operate on someone who isn’t going to respond well physiologically to surgery.
What About Anatomy?
The ideal candidate for a tummy tuck is someone who has excess skin and a bit of excess fatty tissue in the abdomen, concentrated in the central portion of the torso. If you’re someone with more excess fatty tissue, we may recommend that we stage the procedure to include liposuction prior to the abdominoplasty to get better contour and optimize healing for your final result. When you come in for a consult, we will talk to you about whether you’re a better candidate for a mini abdominoplasty v. a full abdominoplasty v. a fleur-de-lis abdominoplasty, or whether there might be nonsurgical options out there that would better meet your goals.
What Results Are Achievable with a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck is perfect for someone with a specific problem in a specific spot: the belly. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand that makes love handles or back fat disappear along with a tummy tuck – for that you’ll want to talk about overall body contouring (which we love talking about, by the way). If you’re someone who is bothered by excess flank tissue (aka “love handles”) for example, you probably find that if we did just a tummy tuck we would be missing the mark, and your overall contour wouldn’t land where you wanted it. In this case, additional liposuction or other contouring could make or break your satisfaction with your investment in surgery. If you come in with an open mind, we will walk you through how to get to your ideal result based on your anatomy.
Let’s Talk Timing!
The best time for a tummy tuck is when you are weight stable and happy with your current weight. Doing surgery when you’re not at your goal weight is one of the biggest potential pitfalls of a tummy tuck. Imagine you want to lose 30 pounds but are eager to get surgery and decide to go for it before those 30 pounds come off. You invest time, money, and recovery in surgery, then look and feel so amazing that you recommit to your weight loss goal. A few months later, your flat tummy has now shrunk even more and the excess skin is starting to sag…making you think about coming back to us again to take off the excess skin! Save yourself multiple procedures and opt for surgery when you know you’re where you want to be on the scale rather than trying to rush it – it’s worth the wait.
Another common timing question: When to schedule surgery before a big event or trip? We get it, you have that big thing coming up and want to look and feel on top of your game! Our advice is to give yourself ample time for full recovery. This typically means planning for surgery at least 4-6 months in advance of any other life events. You want to look and feel 100% healed by the time your big day comes around – the last thing you should be thinking about when you’re out there living your dream is your surgery.
Schedule a Consultation at invMD Plastic Surgery
After all that info, let’s say you’re still not totally sure about your answer to the “is a tummy tuck right for me?” question. Give us a call and schedule a consultation! We will talk to you about your specific goals and how we can help you meet them even if you feel like you’ve stalled out. We are here to help, and it is our greatest joy to see patients get where they want to be. Is a tummy tuck right for you? We hope so! But if not, our job is to find out what is.