What is a tummy tuck?
A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, was originally invented to get rid of loose skin and fat very often exaggerated on one’s abdomen secondary to pregnancy. This surgery was originally considered a reconstructive surgery, and to some extent it still is a reconstructive surgery. However, very few if any insurance carriers will cover a tummy tuck under your health insurance.
Over the past fifteen years, this surgery has morphed from being a reconstructive surgery into a cosmetic surgery. By that, I mean today’s tummy tuck patient is expecting to pay a relatively large sum of money for which she is hoping to be able to wear a bikini at the beach, look good, and have little to no sign that she has ever had plastic surgery.
How is it that today’s patients expect so much from what used to be a reconstructive, almost salvage procedure? The internet, which was once called the information highway, gives so much information about techniques of various plastic surgeons, and through chat rooms, patients talk back and forth about which plastic surgeons offer the best outcomes in this or that procedure. Online doctor rating sites have matured to a point that perspective patients now use them to decide which surgeon, and in this case, which plastic surgeon they will get consultations with.
The 800-pound gorilla of plastic surgery doctor rating sites is RealSelf. RealSelf allows patients to chat back and forth sharing information as to the quality of surgeries they received, the quality of the care they received, and which doctors in which community should be considered for consultations. Subjects such as tummy tucks, mommy makeovers, breast augmentations, etc. are covered in great detail. One can view a video on tummy tucks and know which particular portions of the tummy tuck one has to demand in order to get the outcome they are looking for. So the internet and sites like Yelp, Google Plus, RealSelf, etc. have helped transform the tummy tuck from a reconstructive to a cosmetic procedure.
The main elements of a cosmetic tummy tuck include:
- Resection of enough skin and subcutaneous tissue to have a taut abdomen, even while sitting at the edge of a pool in a bikini.
- An attractive belly button with minimal to no sign of surgical intervention.
- An abdominoplasty scar low enough to be covered by almost all bikini bottoms.
- Muscle repair of the separated abdominal musculature from pregnancy that is tight, flat and does not loosen with time.
- Muffin tops today are as much of a tummy tuck element as the belly button. Basically, little to no skin or fat should hang over a bikini bottom.
The five elements above, when perfect, would lead to a perfect tummy tuck, but as everyone knows, sometimes perfect is the enemy of good. I believe that Board Certified plastic surgeons in general always strive for perfection, and should they fall short, the patient still gets a good result.
What will a tummy tuck do for me?
A tummy tuck will thin your waistline by tightening the abdominal musculature and getting rid of a large segment of loose skin and fat.
A tummy tuck will not only pull down skin from above, but pull up tissue from below to include raising one’s vulva back to where it was prior to one or more pregnancies. This elevation of external female genitalia helps to re-establish the normal kink in the female urethra that acts as a sphincter to prevent stress incontinence (you laugh, you pee, you cough, you pee). In fact, Depends was invented for mature women who have had multiple pregnancies. When the tummy tuck pulls up the vulva, it also pulls up the clitoris to be in a better location for friction. I have never known anyone to complain about that.
A tummy tuck muscle repair adds balance to one’s core musculature by allowing the abdominal muscles to balance the back muscles thereby decreasing the stress on the back often expressing itself in a chronic low back pain that many post pregnancy females display.
All the aforementioned benefits to the tummy tuck, while very practical, are far outweighed by the psychological and emotional benefits. While some women after the first, and even after the second, can regain their pre pregnancy bodies, most cannot. Pregnancy can cause fat deposits in places where most women never had them, and the muscle separation in the abdomen can prevent women from getting a flat stomach no matter how many miles they run and how many sit-ups they do. I can only imagine how uncomfortable it must be to wake up each morning knowing that you won’t feel comfortable in your own skin.
Self-esteem is a multi dimensional concept, and body image is at least a portion of it. Modern high schools teach sex education, but to my knowledge, nowhere in high school or college is there a course that teaches women how their bodies will change after pregnancy and how to come to grips with it. Unlike a balding man’s hair which is lost a bit at a time, women’s bodies change over the course of nine months in often such a dramatic fashion that at times it becomes difficult to deal with. Since this dramatic transformation has been going on for centuries, most women have learned to accept it even if they are not happy about it.
In 2015, secondary to the internet, chat rooms, RealSelf, and the great strides that Board Certified plastic surgeons have made in their surgical skills, women now have a choice. They don’t have to live with a body they are not happy with. They can choose amongst excellent plastic surgeons in their community and they can pick the ones with the best skills for their particular needs.