A tummy tuck may improve the appearance of the abdomen by tightening abdominal wall muscles and removing redundant skin and soft tissue. It is a major cosmetic surgery performed under general anesthetic. Appropriate planning may contribute to the best outcomes. Patients often inquire regarding the best time for a tummy tuck. The following recommendations relate to timing of tummy tuck surgery to ensure long-lasting results with low risk of complications:
– Delay tummy tuck until after pregnancies
During pregnancies or significant weight gain, the abdominal wall muscles are placed under increased tension. This commonly results in a gap between the rectus muscles, referred to as a rectus diastasis. This muscle separation may contribute to a round appearance of the abdomen and is corrected during tummy tuck surgery. The rectus muscles are reinforced in the midline and tightened, which may achieve contour improvement of the abdomen. If pregnancy occurs following a tummy tuck, a full-term healthy pregnancy may still be possible. The aesthetic results of a tummy tuck may be compromised however as stretch marks, redundant skin and soft tissue, and abdominal wall weakness will likely recur. For these reasons, tummy tuck surgery should be delayed until no further pregnancies are planned. Ideally patients are encouraged to delay tummy tuck until 6 months or longer following the final pregnancy.
– Achieve a healthy and stable BMI before tummy tuck
With increased body weight, there is greater fat deposition within the abdomen surrounding body organs. This fat compartment is called visceral fat and is deep to the abdominal wall. It is the type of fat linked with increased risk of many chronic diseases (for example, cardiovascular disease and diabetes). Visceral fat is not addressed by tummy tuck and may detract from tummy tuck results and place additional tension on the muscle repair. A body mass index (BMI) of 25 or less is recommended before tummy tuck, which may lower the risk of surgical and anesthetic complications. It is important for weight to be stable and within a healthy range for 6 months before undergoing a tummy tuck. If weight loss occurs following tummy tuck, redundant skin may recur.
– Delay tummy tuck until able to comply with post-operative activity modifications
Of all cosmetic surgery procedures, tummy tuck is one of the most extensive. It involves a large body surface area and underlying muscle repair. Post-operative activity modifications are critical over 6 weeks post-operatively to lower risk of complications. If exercise or heavy lifting is resumed before adequate healing has taken place, the muscle repair may break down or bleeding may occur. If you have young children at home, it is important to consider that lifting over 5 lbs is not recommended until 6 weeks following tummy tuck. If you are the primary caregiver, it is recommended to arrange help with childcare during early recovery. Some patients may prefer to delay tummy tuck until their children are in school to allow appropriate healing. Most patients are able to return to office-based work within 1-2 weeks of surgery. If job responsibilities are more strenuous, longer time for recovery may be needed.
– The best time of year for tummy tuck is subject to personal preference
Many patients prefer to undergo tummy tuck surgery in the fall or winter since the compression binder may be hot to wear during summer months. It may also be easier to conceal the binder under heavier clothes. If surgery is performed in the fall or winter, patients are generally well healed and able to enjoy their new figures in the spring and summer when wearing lighter clothing. Others may find the best time for a tummy tuck is spring or summer subject to vacation time or interest in winter sports.
Tummy tuck is a commonly performed procedure for body contouring. It may result in dramatic improvement in abdominal contour and skin tightening. Please contact us if interested in discussing tummy tuck surgery in more detail.