Tummy Tuck/Lower Body Lift


What It Does

The surgical removal of excess skin and fat from the abdominal area is the primary focus of abdominoplasty, or more commonly termed, a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck often includes the surgical tightening of the abdominal muscles to firm and smooth the abdomen.  If the fat deposit is small and below the navel and requires a minimal incision, the procedure is usually called a “mini” tummy tuck. Tummy tucks are most commonly performed to improve the appearance of a woman’s abdomen after pregnancy, or to remove loose skin and persistent fat after weight loss.

A tummy tuck may be combined with a lower body lift. A lower body lift tightens sagging skin across the hips, buttocks, and thighs, giving the lower body a more slender, contoured appearance.

Procedure Basics

Although the term “tummy tuck” may sound inconsequential, it is actually a surgery that will require general anesthesia and a significant amount of recovery time. If the surgery is being done on an out-patient basis, be sure you have someone to take you home and be with you following the procedure.

Generally, a horizontal incision is made between the pubic line and navel. Through this incision, flaccid abdominal muscles can be surgically tightened with sutures and excess fat is removed.  Excess skin is pulled down and excised and the incision is sutured. Your surgeon may also use liposuction techniques to remove excess fat from the abdominal and flank areas. An extensive amount of loose skin (typically following a substantial weight reduction) may require additional incisions and surgical techniques.  

If you and your surgeon have determined that a lower body lift is also part of the procedure, incisions are made across the back, hips, and front of the thighs. These incisions will allow your surgeon to remove excess fat and skin and create more pleasing lower body contours. Layered suture techniques are used to support the deep tissues. During the surgery, patients are carefully repositioned as the surgical focus moves from the back of the patient around the hips to the front.


Carefully following any post surgical instructions will be critical to a successful outcome of your surgery. Following surgery, it may be difficult to stand fully upright until internal healing is well underway. In addition, you may need to wear compression garments to help support the sutures and decrease swelling. Small tubes, or drains, may be placed under the skin to allow for the draining of fluids, but these are temporary and will be removed.

You will schedule follow up visits with your surgeon to review your progress and address any question and concerns that may arise. Full recovery typically takes four to six weeks. Although it may take several months to see the complete benefits of your tummy tuck and lower body lift, with proper diet and exercise, the results of surgery will be long-lasting.

Additional Information

As with any surgery, there are risks to consider. Your surgeon will discuss your medical history, current medical health, and the realistic expectations that can be achieved based on your specific anatomy. Risks of surgery include unfavorable scarring, hematoma (bleeding), asymmetry, recurrent loosening of skin, infection, blood clots, poor healing, and prolonged swelling. You may also require revisional surgery to correct any problems that might be apparent after the healing period. Again, carefully following your doctor’s post-surgical instructions will help avoid these and other problems.

A tummy tuck and lower body lift should not be used in place of diet, weight loss, and exercise. In fact, the best candidates for surgery are physically healthy and carry a minimal amount of excess weight or have fat deposits that will not respond to exercise. If you are considering pregnancy or significant weight loss in the future, it might be best to postpone a tummy tuck or lower body lift as both will affect the results of surgery. A tummy tuck will not remove stretch marks unless they are located in the skin that will be excised during surgery.

Additional Resources

There is a wealth of information available concerning abdominoplasty (tummy tucks) and lower body lifts provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (www.plasticsurgery.org) ; click on “Cosmetic” and choose from the list of procedures. The American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Inc. (www.surgery.org) also provides in-depth information; choose “Procedures” for a list of topics.

To schedule a consultation to discuss abdominoplasty or a lower body lift with Dr. Christine Kelley, please call 317/575-0330.