Tummy Tuck

101: Know the Basics of Abdominoplasty Procedures

What is a “Tummy Tuck?”

An abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) is a plastic surgery that tightens or firms up loose the skin around your abdomen. The goal is to remove loose skin on and around the torso. The procedure is usually cosmetic in nature.

Patients often consider cosmetic surgery after significant weight loss. This is because such weight loss can result in excess skin even after fat deposits are no longer present. An abdominoplasty can also correct excess skin due to certain genetic conditions. Tummy tucks also are a critical component of a “mommy makeover” procedure. This is a combination of different plastic surgeries to help women restore the appearance of their body after pregnancy. Often, tummy tucks are a confidence builder for women looking to achieve a specific body contour or shape around their waist.

What a “Tummy Tuck” is Not

Abdominoplasty procedures are often mistaken for other cosmetic procedures, such as liposuctions.  It is possible to get both procedures at once. However, liposuctions and tummy tucks are very different procedures. This is true both in how your surgeon will perform and them and in the results they typically achieve. First, unlike tummy tucks, liposuctions aren’t necessarily focused on the abdomen. Liposuctions are performed on the buttocks, thighs, and other regions of the body carrying unwanted fat. This can include the stomach but does not always.

Additionally, while a tummy tuck may remove some unwanted fat, that is not its primary purpose.  Abdominoplasty surgery mainly focused on removing excess skin and tightening muscles. On the other hand, liposuctions are designed almost exclusively to remove fat from the body.

Besides the difference between an abdominoplasty and liposuction, it is also important to understand that tummy tucks are not a substitute for weight loss. These surgeries have less to do with fat and weight and more to do with the body contour and overall appearance of the torso. In fact, it may be best to hold off on a tummy tuck if you think you may undergo significant weight loss in the future. Weight loss can result in excess skin and, as a result, you may require a second tummy tuck if you lose more weight after the first procedure.

Understanding Tummy Tucks

Now that you have a basic overview of what tummy tucks are and are not, let’s dive into some of the questions we often get from our patients about tummy tuck benefits, recovery time, and what to expect from the surgery.


Tummy tucks are about far more than giving the stomach firmer look. An abdominoplasty can boost your self-confidence by removing or smoothing excessive skin. This can rectify any unwanted effects from weight loss, pregnancy, or hereditary conditions. This type of plastic surgery can give you the body contour you’ve always wanted. We make an incision below the beltline whenever possible to minimize visible scarring.

Although a tummy tuck is generally a cosmetic procedure, there are many documented benefits beyond improved appearance. In fact, the surgeries have been linked to alleviating back pain and urinary incontinence after childbirth. Each patient is unique. As a result, it is important to discuss with your plastic surgeons what benefits you hope to receive from a tummy tuck. This ensures that you are able to set realistic expectations.


Any type of surgery will require rest and recovery before you can return to your daily life. A tummy tuck is no different. As a result, it is important that you consider recovery time before deciding to undergo this or any type of plastic surgery.

Most abdominoplasties are outpatient procedures. As a result, you can expect to go home a few hours after the operation. Since the location of the surgery (the abdomen) is more sensitive, you should expect a slightly longer recovery time than for other, similarly invasive surgeries. Patients can expect to wait 2-4 weeks before returning to work (contingent on the demands of the job) and 6-8 weeks before being completely recovered.

That said, the exact details of the procedures and recovery is unique to every patent. Our surgeons, Dr. Hess and Dr. Sandeen, will walk you through the recovery process and monitor your progress through numerous follow-up appoints.

Work schedule, family, and personal lives are factors that should be considered when thinking about the best time for your procedure. For us in Tucson, late Fall to early Winter is a great time to schedule a tummy tuck procedure. This allows enough recovery time to be prepared for the bathing suit weather that will allow you to show off your new curves in the summer.


Depending on where you get plastic surgery, there are going to be variations in the care and specific procedures. When you choose Hess and Sandeen for your tummy tuck, you can expect complete care and support throughout the decision process. This begins with your consultation and continues through surgery and recovery. We’ll walk you through the process, monitor your recovery, and remain available for any questions you may have.

It’s also important to know there are a few different types of tummy tucks. When you meet with our board-certified surgeons, we will explain these options to you. This allows you to get a complete understanding of what to expect in terms of benefits, recovery, and risk as it relates to the specific type of abdominoplasty you will be getting.

Is a “tummy tuck” right for me?

Choosing to get cosmetic surgery of any type is an intimate and personal decision. Plastic surgery isn’t for everybody. It is our aim to make you feel as comfortable as possible and provide all the information you need to make an informed decision. Our clients have seen amazing, life-changing results. Our world-class patient care and support have helped us become one of the highest-rated plastic surgeons in Tucson.

Find out if you’re a candidate for a tummy tuck procedure by scheduling a free consultation today!

Call our office at (520) 297-3300 to get scheduled to speak with one of our board-certified surgeons. You can also email us at cday@hessandsandeen.com or stop by our offices at in the La Cholla Corporate Park in Tucson, Arizona. An expert member of our team would love to discuss your unique goals and circumstances and help you explore what option may be best for you.