Ballpark Estimate: $5,000 to $10,000
Imagine hitting the beach this summer wearing a string bikini and feeling great about your flat, toned stomach. If this sounds like your ideal goal but you find it’s simply impossible for you to achieve it on your own, then you may be in need of some extra help in the form of a tummy tuck.
Perhaps your stomach is saggy because you’ve had children or lost a lot of weight. You may continually try dieting and exercise, but despite your best efforts to tighten up your mid section, your stomach muscles refuse to cooperate. A tummy tuck (also called abdominoplasty) could be a good path to take. This is a surgical process that removes the extra skin in your stomach area and tightens up the muscles that are stretched out of shape.
Of course, if your problem is simply extra fat, not extra skin or loose muscles that won’t bounce back anymore, then a weight loss and fitness plan may be a better choice for your situation. But if you’re already close to your ideal weight and yet your stomach still needs some recontouring, a tummy tuck could indeed be the right fit for your situation.
Types of Tummy Tucks
There are several methods of abdominoplasty that can be used, depending on your specific body type and needs. You can review the brief descriptions below to better understand your options. (Just keep in mind that there are different variations in terms of the extent of what needs to be done and the techniques that will work best for you.)
Mini Tummy Tuck
This involves tightening only your lower abdominal muscles and the skin below your belly button area.
Standard Tummy Tuck
This addresses extra skin and sagging muscles in your entire stomach region, including both above and below the naval.
Extended Tummy Tuck
This includes extending out beyond your upper and lower abdominal area to also remove the love handle areas that can exist above your hips.
Also keep in mind tummy tucks can be done for both males and females, but the techniques used may different depending on gender.
What to Expect
If you’re considering undergoing a tummy tuck, you’ll need to know that this is general surgery and as such, it may be performed either in an outpatient facility or inpatient, depending on the extent of the work to be done. The length of the operation may range between two and five hours, but more extreme cases can take even longer. Some patients may also need to stay over night to recover.
During the surgical procedure, the surgeon will need to make an incision, or several incisions, to remove the extra area of skin and to make the muscles tighter. The belly button is sometimes removed to accomplish this goal, and then reattached once everything is back in its newly improved configuration. For people with pockets of extra fat, some liposuction may also be used to enhance the results.
Once the work is completed, you can expect the doctor to use surgical stitches to close you back up. You may also need to be fitted with a drain that will allow fluid to be directed away from the surgical area.
The recovery period can take up to two weeks or so, and you could experience some pain or discomfort during this time, which will gradually improve as you heal and are cleared to begin returning to your normal activities.
What to Look For
There are many different approaches you can take to find a local surgeon who is experienced in performing tummy tuck procedures. One good way to start your search is by looking for professionals in your area who are certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery or the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Specialists with these designations will have passed the rigorous education and training requirements of these well-respected groups. You can also ask your primary care physician for recommendations or check with family members or friends who have had similar procedures done. In addition, you can perform a search online. Some helpful websites to try include DocShop, the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, and the Consumer Guide to Plastic Surgery.
When you find a surgeon you like, always begin by having a consultation to find out if you are an appropriate candidate, as well as to learn about the risks, side effects and benefits you can expect.
What It Costs
So perhaps you’ve decided you want to have a tummy tuck done but aren’t sure if you can swing the expense. You’ll need to know that what you can expect to pay will vary a great deal depending on where you live, what you want to have done and what qualifications your surgeon brings to the operating table. The more experienced your surgeon is, the higher fee he or she is likely to charge.
You also need to know that the price you will be charged for a tummy tuck will need to include several factors, including the surgeon’s price the cost for the facility where the procedure is performed and the cost for the anesthesia. It’s also important to understand that the longer the surgery takes, the more the process will probably cost. This means that a mini tummy tuck, which is less involved, will be less expensive than a standard tummy tuck, while an extended tummy tuck will be more costly.
Where you have your surgery done will also affect the bottom line. For instance, abdominal surgery done in a hospital setting is usually more expensive than having the procedure done in an outpatient facility.
All this being factored in, you can expect that on the low end, a tummy tuck can start at about $3,000. To the other extreme, you can spend as much as $15,000 to get the body of your dreams. However, most patients report that they spend in the $5,000 to $10,000 range for this procedure.
Since a tummy tuck is usually elective cosmetic surgery, you can assume it won’t be covered by your health insurance plan. However, some surgeons will be willing to offer you a monthly payment plan to make the expense more manageable.
Other Things to Consider
When meeting with a tummy tuck surgeon, always be sure to ask exactly what is included in the price he or she quotes, and whether there are any other fees that you will need to know about. This is very important since some doctors may only tell you about the surgeon’s fee up front and won’t mention the other costs you will incur.
You should also know that tummy tucks are generally safe, but as with any surgery, there are always possible risks and side effects that you will need to consider.
Finally, when you decide to undergo a tummy tuck, most experts stress that you’ll need to make a commitment to eat well and exercise regularly in order to maintain the results over time.