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The midsection can experience profound changes over time, as stretched abdominal muscles, skin laxity and the formation of isolated fat pocket take their toll. These fluctuations may impact the way your clothing fits, your body profile and your confidence in your appearance. In cases where cutting calories and crunches don’t have the desired effect, a surgical enhancement may produce the outcome you want with long-lasting improvement.

One of the best procedures to effect a youthful change to the body is a tummy tuck or abdominoplasty. A tummy tuck in Austin involves the surgical excision of skin and fatty deposits from the abdomen, along with the tightening of abdominal muscles. Sometimes liposuction is added to enhance the sculpted effect and give a “washboard” or “six-pack” appearance to the abdomen. Dr. Sharma has extensive experience in this body contouring procedure and will tailor your surgery to your precise needs and expectations.

Tummy Tuck Candidates

Weight fluctuations, changes brought about by pregnancy and resistant fat deposits that do not respond to exercise lead many Austin men and women to seek the abdominal contouring offered with a tummy tuck. In the case of post-pregnancy patients, the procedure is helpful in remedying the vertical separation of abdominal muscles known as diastasis. The optimal patients for a tummy tuck are both women and men in good health, non-smokers and have achieved a stable weight. A tummy tuck is not designed for significant weight loss, and it is best to be within a reasonable BMI (body mass index) to ensure this procedure is safe and meets the expectations of the patient.

A tummy tuck may help you address the following concerns:

  • Loose skin left behind from pregnancy or significant weight fluctuations
  • Isolated fat deposits that won’t respond to exercise or diet efforts
  • Abdominal muscles that stretched after weight gain or pregnancy
  • Stretch marks that have formed between the navel and panty line
  • Uncomfortable clothing due to excess weight and skin in the midsection
  • Lack of confidence in your appearance due to abdominal bulges

It is best to wait to undergo a tummy tuck until after you are finished having children since subsequent pregnancies could significantly impact your positive results. Dr. Sharma will evaluate you and listen to your concerns and aesthetic goals to determine whether abdominoplasty is the best option for you.

What comes to mind when you hear the words tummy tuck?

Is it a mother restoring her body after the stresses of pregnancy and childbirth? Is it a person getting rid of excess skin after losing a significant amount of weight? Is it someone who wants to look and feel better in a swimsuit?

Thanks to its incredible ability to recontour the body, most people see a tummy tuck as a cosmetic procedure — but for patients like Judy, a tummy tuck is so much more.

After a severe car accident and a spinal surgery left her with separated abdominal muscles and debilitating pain, Judy sought help at Plastic Surgery Austin…

Continue Reading Judy’s Story

Main Components of a Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck does exactly what the name implies: it “tucks” a protruding or sagging belly to restore flatter, natural-looking contours in the midsection. Often, diet and exercise aren’t enough to address problems like loose skin or stretched muscles, but abdominoplasty offers an effective way to restore a slimmer figure and add definition in the stomach. To accomplish this, there are four main components to every tummy tuck procedure, but each operation is unique, and Dr. Sharma will use techniques best suited to your individual goals.

Remove Excess Fat

Unwanted fat can contribute to the appearance of a bulging stomach. Removing it helps flatten the area and sets the stage for sculpting smoother, leaner contours. While liposuction is often performed as a standalone procedure, Dr. Sharma will use this technique to eliminate excess fat in the midsection during your tummy tuck.

Liposuction involves inserting a tube-like tool called a cannula into the abdomen through small incisions, where it can access and remove unwanted fatty tissues. Then, using gentle movements, mechanical vibration or ultrasound energy, the cannula will loosen the fat cells and eliminate them via suction. Dr. Sharma may use these same incisions to tighten the abdominal muscles, otherwise they will be hidden along the lower abdomen.

Tighten the Abdominal Muscles

The abdominal muscles can become loose or lax over time, causing the stomach to protrude outward. In other cases, they can stretch and separate, often due to factors like aging, obesity or pregnancy. When this happens, the belly takes on a flabby, bulging appearance that doesn’t improve with diet or exercise. Tightening these weakened stomach muscles helps tone the area and restore flat, smooth and natural-looking contours.

This is accomplished by repositioning the abdominal muscles and stitching them back together. The sheath of connective tissue that holds the muscles in place, called the fascia, can also be stitched and tightened to restore a firmer structure. This element of the procedure corrects the belly bulge often experienced by new moms.

Trim Excess Skin

Excess skin can appear due to factors like pregnancy or weight fluctuations. The skin naturally stretches to accommodate fatty tissues, but often remains behind even after giving birth or reaching your weight loss goals. Unfortunately, this can mask any progress you’ve made and create disproportionate body contours. Many people find this highly discouraging, so trimming away excess skin is a key component of the tummy tuck.

During your tummy tuck, Dr. Sharma will eliminate loose, sagging skin and re-drape it over your newly shaped contours, creating a flatter and smoother appearance. At this point, any incisions needed to remove unwanted fat or tighten the abdominal muscles will be carefully hidden, minimizing visible scarring. Once your body heals, your incision lines will begin to fade and can be easily covered with swimsuits, undergarments and other clothing.

Reposition the Belly Button

With a tummy tuck, the belly button may need to be repositioned to maintain a natural appearance that’s aligned with your abdominal and pelvic region. Although it remains attached throughout the entire procedure, the opening can shift as the skin and muscles are manipulated to sculpt a smoother, tighter stomach.

To address this, Dr. Sharma may relocate the navel after tightening and removing any excess skin. The process involves making a new incision in the desired area with careful attention to size, shape and placement. This step isn’t always needed, but a natural-looking belly button is important for a successful tummy tuck.

Options in Tummy Tuck Surgery

Dr. Sharma does not perform any two tummy tucks in precisely the same way since goals and needs will vary somewhat with every patient. Tummy tucks come in two basic types and customization can be added to each:

Mini Abdominoplasty

Mini-abdominoplasties are performed for lower abdominal laxity that occurs with stretching this area of the abdomen. The looseness is tightened with internal sutures and utilizes a smaller incision with a minimal amount of skin resection. This type of surgery can often be performed on an outpatient basis using local anesthesia with IV sedation. Liposculpture can be added during this procedure to enhance the appearance of the upper and outer abdomen.

Full Abdominoplasty

During a full or traditional abdominoplasty, the focus in on both the upper and lower abdominal areas. While the incision is more extended, stretching from hipbone to hipbone, it is carefully concealed with the panty line and allows for greater access to tissue, muscles and skin that require correction to achieve the desired outcome. Muscles can be tightened during a full tummy tuck to create a better result overall. The navel can also be repositioned during this procedure to create a natural, proportionate appearance.

Preparing for Your Tummy Tuck

Abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure, but there are several steps you can take to prepare yourself and ensure a safe and satisfying outcome. Dr. Sharma recommends doing the following to ensure a successful surgery and smooth recovery process.

  • If you’re a smoker, quit at least six weeks before your surgery, and don’t resume for a minimum of six weeks afterward. Ideally, patients should quit smoking altogether. Nicotine can impair wound healing and interfere with your recovery.
  • Talk to your doctor about any medications that you take. Patients should avoid any blood thinners a week prior to surgery to reduce the risk of complications. This restriction includes both prescription medications as well as over-the-counter drugs like aspirin and NSAIDs.
  • Prepare your home for your recovery and arrange for help from a loved one. You will find certain household tasks difficult to complete in the days following your surgery, including caring for children and pets. A clean, comfortable and well-stocked home will allow you to rest and heal.
  • Fill any prescriptions ahead of time, so they’re available during your recovery. Dr. Sharma will provide you with pain medication and antibiotics to keep you comfortable and minimize the risk of infection. It’s also recommended to stock up on other medical supplies you may need, including cleansers, bandages and healing ointment.

What to Expect During Your Procedure

Dr. Sharma may recommend performing your tummy tuck under general anesthesia or local anesthesia with sedation, depending on whether you are having a full or mini tuck procedure. Mini tummy tucks are done on an outpatient basis, meaning you can go home the same day as your surgery. Full tummy tucks can be performed safely on an outpatient basis as well, but an overnight stay might be required if combined with multiple procedures, so you can be monitored and cared for during the early hours of your recovery process.

Abdominoplasty may take anywhere from two to four hours to complete. Incisions will be placed low on the abdomen so that they will be hidden by undergarments and clothing. The extent of the incision will vary depending on how much correction is needed. Dr. Sharma will remove excess tissue and fat, tightening the abdominal muscles at the same time if necessary. Loose skin will be trimmed and re-draped over your new contours to create a smoother, flatter midsection. Additional liposuction can be performed for further sculpting of the stomach or other problem areas. If the navel needs to be repositioned, a new opening will be made and sutured into place to ensure a natural appearance.

Understanding the Recovery Process

After your tummy tuck, you are likely to be sore and swollen. You may also have tubes inserted into your incision to prevent fluid from building up in the surgical site. Dr. Sharma will place a compression garment over the area to help control swelling and promote healing. He will also give you a prescription for pain medication to keep you comfortable and an antibiotic to lower your risk of postoperative infection.

Patients can usually return to light activities within two weeks after a tummy tuck. Strenuous exercise will need to wait much longer – six to eight weeks – to provide ample time for the midsection to heal fully. Incision care is critical after abdominoplasty to minimize the appearance of the scar. Dr. Sharma will provide you with full instructions on how to tend to your incision during the first few days and weeks to ensure the best possible outcome. Keep in mind that it may take up to one full year for your incision lines to heal and fade.

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Tummy Tuck Results

The initial results of your tummy tuck will be noticeable immediately after surgery. Your stomach will look flatter, smoother and more proportionate to your body shape, enhancing your natural curves and contours. Improvements will continue to develop and become more apparent as the swelling subsides over the following weeks or months. You can expect the final outcome of your abdominoplasty to be permanent as long as you maintain your current weight and a healthy, active lifestyle. Waiting until after you’re done having children can also prolong your results, since pregnancy can cause many concerns to reappear.

Schedule a Consultation

A tummy tuck is a surgery that offers dramatic and long-lasting results for the right patient. The ability to trim away loose skin and eliminate stubborn fat can make a profound difference in the overall body contour. If you would like to learn more about abdominoplasty, now is the time to schedule a consultation with Dr. Sharma at his office in Austin, Texas. You can call Plastic Surgery Austin at 512-838-3658 or fill out our online contact form to get started.


What happens at my consultation?

During your initial consultation with Dr. Sharma, he will assess your concerns, needs and goals to determine if a tummy tuck is right for you. He will also discuss your surgical options and explain the treatment process in more detail. If you have any questions or concerns, this is a good time to address them. Should you decide to move forward with surgery, you will enter the planning stage of the treatment process.

How long do the results last after a tummy tuck?

The results of your tummy tuck are considered permanent as long as you maintain a stable weight and healthy lifestyle. The excess skin and fat removed by Dr. Sharma won’t come back, but the remaining fat cells can stretch and expand with significant weight gain. Pregnancy can also cause the abdominal muscles to once again weaken and separate as they make room for a growing baby, so it’s recommended to wait until you’re done building your family before undergoing a tummy tuck.

Should I wait until I’m done having children to undergo a tummy tuck?

If you’re considering getting pregnant in the near future, it might be best to schedule your tummy tuck until after having children. If you have concerns about sagging skin, excess fat or loose stomach muscles, pregnancy can cause these problems to recur even after surgery. Choosing the right time for your procedure can help ensure that you’re able to enjoy your results for many years to come. During your consultation, Dr. Sharma can help you decide if now is the right time to consider a tummy tuck.

Can I combine my tummy tuck with other procedures?

Your tummy tuck can be combined with other procedures for more comprehensive results. Popular choices include a breast lift or breast augmentation, liposuction, or buttock enhancement. Abdominoplasty is also typically included as part of a mommy makeover, which is a set of procedures designed to help restore a pre-baby body. If you’re healthy enough for it, having multiple procedures done at once may be recommended, giving you the benefit of just one surgery and one recovery period.

Is a tummy tuck painful?

During surgery, you’ll be kept comfortable with either general anesthesia or local anesthesia with IV sedation, so the treatment process itself isn’t painful. However, you will experience some discomfort afterward, as well as side effects like bruising, swelling or bleeding. Your recovery process will differ depending on the extent of your procedure, but Dr. Sharma will provide you with medication and aftercare instructions to minimize these symptoms. At Plastic Surgery Austin, we also use a new drug with a long-acting numbing effect that further reduces postoperative discomfort, providing non-opioid pain relief that allows patients to recover at home.

Can a tummy tuck eliminate stretch marks?

Stretch marks that are located near excised skin will be removed by a tummy tuck, but some may remain after your procedure. However, stretch marks located higher on your abdomen will be moved downward, making them less noticeable than they were before. During your consultation, Dr. Sharma will assess your concerns and let you know what to expect when it comes to the results of your tummy tuck.


Contact our office to schedule a private consultation with Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, Sanjay K. Sharma, M.D., F.A.C.S.