The abdominal lift, also called a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty, is a surgical procedure to remodel the abdomen through the resection of the adipose tissue and excess skin, as well as tighten the abdominal muscles. This procedure has been performed for decades, and since 1960, there has been a large number of people (both men and women) who have benefited from the tummy tuck. During the procedure, the stretch marks on the lower part of the abdomen can be removed, the muscles are strengthened, and the excess skin and fat tissues are removed. The patient is left with a flatter, firmer tummy. Things you should know before undergoing your tummy tuck procedure: 1. The tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure. There are still people who think that plastic surgery is as simple as a walk in the park. However, the tummy tuck is a major surgical procedure that should only be taken into consideration after all the other methods have been tried without achieving significant results (e.g. diet and physical exercise). The procedure is used to restore an aesthetic contour of the abdominal area, but not the waist. If you think you can just go in and have a tummy tuck instead of spending long hours at the gym or eating a healthy diet, you should reconsider. The abdominoplasty will re-contour your abdomen but won’t help you with your weight loss issues, if you have any. Moreover, the aesthetic improvements come with the costs of a large incision and also a lengthy recovery period. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that when confronted with skin sagginess, there are no diets or physical exercises that can help you correct this. The only solution to get rid of sagging skin on the abdomen is with the tummy tuck procedure that can be performed on itself or in combination with other procedures such as a thigh lift, liposuction, or fat transfer. 2. Abdominoplasty won’t remove all your stretch marks. After multiple pregnancies or significant weight fluctuations, most people are left with stretch marks on the abdominal area. Some patients will have the stretch marks around the navel, while for others they are positioned on the upper or lower part of the abdomen or around the flanks. When undergoing a tummy tuck, a part of the tissue on the lower part of the tummy will be excised. However, the plastic surgeon won’t be able to remove all your stretch marks, even if they are placed under the navel. The tummy tuck shouldn’t be seen as a method you can use to get rid of stretch marks as you might be very disappointed after the surgery. Stretch marks are often an issue when it comes to weight loss, especially if the skin has lost elasticity due to aging or multiple weight fluctuations. Keep in mind that the stretch marks positioned on the upper part of the abdomen, hips, and flanks will need a different type of treatment as they won’t be affected by the tummy tuck procedure. 3. The tummy tuck will remove the protruding belly apron. This type of plastic surgery provides impressive results when it comes to strengthening the anterior abdominal wall and reducing the inferior abdominal projection. The tummy tuck can also accentuate and emphasize the flanks and hips, especially if an hourglass tummy tuck is performed. Your plastic surgeon might suggest you lose weight before the procedure is performed, especially if you have a thick adipose layer on the abdominal area. By losing weight, the thickness of the fat deposit will be diminished, and the patient will achieve superior results after the procedure. A patient who has a normal weight but with loose abdominal muscles can choose this method to get rid of the belly apron that can form as a result of the loss of skin elasticity for those who have lost weight or had one or multiple pregnancies in the past. 4. Umbilical hernia and diastasis recti can be corrected. The tummy tuck can also be performed for medical reasons, not only aesthetic ones. A umbilical hernia and diastasis recti are just a few of the conditions that can be corrected with the help of an abdominoplasty. 5. The hourglass tummy tuck is the only procedure that can provide you with an hourglass figure. Many patients tend to believe that after undergoing a traditional tummy tuck, they will have the curves and the body shape they have always desired. The reality is that this is only true if the patient already had an hourglass shape before the procedure, with an impressive waist-to-hip ratio. If the patient had a square shape before the tummy tuck, the shape would be the same after the procedure. The hourglass shape requires curves that can only be achieved with the help of liposuction and fat transfer, aside from augmentation procedures (for the breast and buttocks, if necessary). It is important for the patients to be fully aware of the shape they are going to get after the procedure, so they won’t be disappointed with the results. The traditional tummy tuck can leave you with a rectangular shape, and this is not very attractive. When liposuction is performed and fat is transferred to the hips, we can create curves and improve the body profile and shape. 6. Getting pregnant after your tummy tuck can alter the results of the procedure. In an ideal situation, the patient will first plan her family and undergo abdominoplasty when the family is complete and she has no desire to get pregnant again. The reality is that women often get pregnant again after undergoing a tummy tuck, and this can trigger a reversible process of the abdominoplasty, negatively impacting the results of the surgery. During pregnancy, the abdominal area will increase its size to accommodate the growing baby. The skin on the abdomen stretches, and a poor skin elasticity will inevitably lead to the occurrence of the stretch marks. During the tummy tuck intervention, the abdominal muscles are pulled towards the median line of the tummy and sutured to restore the appearance of the abdominal wall that was changed by diastasis recti. At the same time, the excess skin and fat tissue are removed. When a new pregnancy occurs, the skin will stretch again, and the patient will experience a stronger tension on the skin due to the more reduced surface and the diminished capacity to re-stretch. At the same time, the muscles will be stretched again, and the sutures might fail to prevent that. Not all patients can afford the costs of a new abdominoplasty, not only financially but also physically. The time required for recovery and the risks entailed by such a complex plastic surgery procedure are grueling. This is why the tummy tuck is generally associated with post-partum abdominal remodeling only. An anterior tummy tuck won’t hurt the baby and there are no risks involved during the pregnancy, but getting pregnant again will change the body aspect of the patient. Candidacy for tummy tuck A good candidate for the procedure understands that there are always risks involved when it comes to surgical interventions. Severe complications can occur, even when the procedure is performed by a talented, board- certified plastic surgeon and the patients follows all pre- and post-operative indications. Men can also be good candidates for the procedure, especially if they have lost a lot of weight or the aspect of their abdomen was altered with the natural aging process. Lastly, the patients should be in good health and emotional condition before scheduling a tummy tuck. Conclusion The tummy tuck is performed for patients who desire to get a firmer abdomen. During the tummy tuck, the plastic surgeon will suture the abdominal muscles after pulling them towards the midline and remove the excess tissue on the lower part of the abdomen. The procedure will remove the protruding belly and some of the stretch marks located on the lower part of the tummy, as well as correct medical conditions such as diastasis recti and umbilical hernias. However, keep in mind that abdominoplasty is a major plastic surgery intervention, and the results of it will be altered in case you gain weight or get pregnant after the surgery.