Dr. Steven Fagien & Dr. Elbert Vaca

Abdominoplasty / Tummy Tuck


An abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a commonly performed surgical procedure that treats excess abdominal skin and laxity of the abdominal wall. Abdominoplasty is often combined with liposuction to improve the contour or silhouette of the abdomen. It is important to note that while skin and excess fat are typically removed, abdominoplasty is NOT weight loss surgery. Ideal candidates for abdominoplasty should be of a stable and healthy weight to minimize the risk of complications and to maximize the potential aesthetic result.

Unfortunately, for many patients, diet and exercise alone does not reverse the stretching of the skin and abdominal muscles and a tummy tuck can significantly improve the appearance of the abdomen.

Am I a good candidate for abdominoplasty?

Ideal candidates for abdominoplasty are in good health with realistic expectations. A healthy diet and stable weight decrease the risk of complications and improves the overall aesthetic result after surgery. Abdominoplasty is most commonly performed after pregnancy due to stretching of the abdominal wall muscles and skin. Abdominoplasty may also be performed on patients who have experienced significant weight loss.

How is the surgery performed?

Abdominoplasty is performed under general anesthesia. An incision is placed low on the abdomen and concealed below the bikini line. In most cases, an incision is also made around the navel. The muscles of the abdomen are then tightened with sutures, producing a narrower waistline and flatter abdomen. The extra skin is then removed which further helps with improving the contour of the abdomen. Liposuction is commonly performed to further improve the silhouette of the abdomen.

How long does the procedure take?

Abdominoplasty surgery takes approximately 3 hours but may take longer if other procedures are performed at the same time.

If I’ve had a c-section in the past, am I still a candidate for surgery?

Yes! Abdominoplasty is commonly performed on women who have had a c-section in the past. If you have had a c-section, this typically does not change the length of surgery.

Can I have an abdominoplasty if I plan on having more children?

Surgery should be delayed until you have completed having children.

Will an abdominoplasty remove my stretch marks?

A tummy tuck can remove the majority of stretch marks below the navel. However, a tummy tuck does not remove stretch marks above the navel and may only partially remove stretch marks that are closer to your flanks.

What is a “mini-abdominoplasty” or “mini-tummy tuck”?

A mini-abdominoplasty may be an option in some patients where there is mild to minimal extra skin isolated to the area below the navel. If you have extra skin above the navel, a traditional abdominoplasty is a better surgical option to improve the contour of the abdomen. Like all procedures, there are potential advantages and disadvantages compared to other tummy tuck techniques. A consultation with Dr. Vaca will help determine if you are a good candidate.

What are the risks of an abdominoplasty?

All surgical procedures carry a degree of uncertainty and risk. Thankfully, the risk of a major complication is rare.

The principle risk with abdominoplasty is scarring. Poor healing can occur – this is more common in smokers. Unfavorable scarring is more common in patients who experience poor healing. Infection and bleeding are rare but can occur.

After surgery, there will be a change in sensation in the lower abdomen. Sensation recovers over time in most patients; however, loss or decreased sensation can be permanent in some areas. Occasionally, fluid can accumulate beneath the skin that may need to be drained.

If you have an umbilical hernia, there is an increased risk of poor healing and loss of a portion of your navel. Though rare, the most concerning risk of abdominoplasty is the formation of a blood clot in your legs that can travel to your lungs, otherwise known as a pulmonary embolism, which would require blood thinning medication and other potential treatments. The best way to decrease the risk of a blood clot is to be of a healthy weight prior to surgery and to walk and remain mobile after surgery.

Before and After Photos

Abdominoplasty – Case 1

Abdominoplasty – Case 2

Abdominoplasty – Case 3

Meet Dr. Vaca

Dr. Vaca

Dr. Elbert E. Vaca is a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon who completed his medical training at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
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Meet Dr. Fagien

Dr. Fagien

Dr. Steven Fagien is one of the foremost oculoplastic surgeons in the United States and the world. He completed his medical training at the University of Florida and a fellowship in oculoplastic surgery at the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary.
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