As one of the most popular cosmetic surgeries in the United States–with over 140,000 tummy tucks being performed yearly–the question of how tummy tucks have improved over the decades is a common one. The answer is more nuanced than most patients think!
Let’s examine the history of tummy tucks. Specifically, what the procedure is like today, and the results you can expect from yours. To learn more, you can set up your personal consultation with renowned cosmetic surgeon Dr. Brent.
What is a Tummy Tuck?
A tummy tuck (more formally known as “abdominoplasty”) is a cosmetic surgical procedure that improves the shape, size, and appearance of the abdomen.
This is achieved by removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen. It also tightens the abdomen’s connective tissues with sutures. The remaining skin is then carefully repositioned in order to create a more toned look.
Those with diet-resistant fat, poor skin elasticity due to age, or weakened connective tissue in the abdomen often elect to undergo a tummy tuck. More common reasons include, but aren’t limited to:
- Significant changes in weight
- Abdominal surgery, such as a C-section
- Or being post-pregnancy
The Benefits of a Tummy Tuck
Alongside the cosmetic benefits of a tummy tuck, there are a variety of other benefits that some patients may not know when going into their consultation.
- Minimizing the Risk of Certain Medical Conditions: Studies have proven that, when one’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is in a healthy range, people are less likely to develop medical conditions like diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, gallbladder disease, and gallstones. Undergoing a tummy tuck reduces one’s BMI and can put you in that healthy range.
- Strengthening Your Core: Due to a tummy tuck tightening your abdominal muscles, this has the added benefit of restoring a weakened core, fortifying abdominal muscles, and improving overall abdominal flexibility. This can relieve lower back pain and even improve posture.
- Bolstering Your Control of Bodily Functions: Stress incontinence, ventral hernias, and a loss of bowel function can all be side effects of post-pregnancy, aging, or being overweight. When a tummy tuck is performed, many patients report gaining control back over these bodily functions.
Tummy tucks can also improve more minor skin imperfections, like stretch marks.
How Tummy Tucks Have Improved Over the Decades
Did you know that the first abdominoplasties were conducted over 200 years ago?
Both the procedures and the reasons behind them have transformed over the decades. Let’s take a deep-dive into where we started–and where we are now.
The First Tummy Tucks
The first tummy tucks were performed in the early 1800s. However, at the beginning, they weren’t done for cosmetic reasons. Rather, excess skin from the abdominal area was removed in order to cover and repair open wounds elsewhere on the body.
As such, the skin of the abdomen often looked “stretched” after these initial surgeries–and even left the majority of patients without belly buttons!
By the late 1800s, surgeons became interested in the cosmetic opportunities of this procedure and began experimenting with cosmetic-oriented outcomes. During this time period, however, it was firmly believed by medical professionals that it would be impossible to successfully perform a tummy tuck without altering or removing the belly button.
Abdominoplasty in the 20th Century
1905 marked the beginning of surgeons preserving bully buttons during abdominoplasty, which paved the way for the tummy tucks we know today.
French plastic surgeons discovered that both vertical and horizontal incisions could be used to create small flaps in the skin that they could work through. This contrasted to creating one large horizontal incision that spanned the entirety of the abdomen. As a result, bully buttons were preserved. And results proved more sophisticated than ever seen before in history.
Despite this innovation, abdominoplasty hadn’t yet proven to be a common cosmetic procedure. It still primarily would treat wounds until the end of World War I. It wasn’t until the 1970s that medical professionals began to use tummy tuck techniques to treat the bulging stomachs that were resulting from umbilical hernias. Through this, surgeons came to the realization that tummy tucks could provide other benefits. Specifically, it could result in a smoother, tighter appearance of the stomach and abdomen.
Now, let’s fast-forward to the modern day: hailed as one of the safest, most effective, and most popular cosmetic procedures, tummy tucks have received numerous advances since their inception.
The most notable of these advancements are:
The Mini Tummy Tuck:
Also known as “partial abdominoplasty”, the mini tummy tuck was invented for those who wanted to tighten a small amount of excess skin or fat below the belly button. Compare this to targeting the entirety of their abdomen. This has made abdominoplasty quicker to recover from. And it has made it available to a wider variety of candidates.
The Drain-Free Tummy Tuck:
Prior to this technique being invented, all tummy tucks were done using a drain that prevented internal fluid buildup during and post-surgery. By taking away the need for a drain, it has also removed the complications that arose from patients having to empty the contents of their drain regularly before removal.
The “Mommy Makeover” Tummy Tuck:
Abdominoplasty now commonly combines with other cosmetic procedures, like breast augmentation and liposuction. The name works as something of a nickname: a “mommy makeover.” Compounding these procedures makes it so patients only need anesthesia once and can recover in just one period. Compare that to than having to recover from multiple operations at different times.
The Extended Tummy Tuck:
Designed for obese patients who have a large amount of excess fat and overhanging skin, this procedure creates a new belly button and tightens up the abdominal muscles.
The Circumferential Tummy Tuck:
In this comprehensive procedure, the patient’s outer thighs and buttocks are also lifted in order to tighten all relevant muscles and create a contoured body shape. This is made for patients who have lost a significant amount of both weight and fat–generally after gastric bypass surgery–and are now dealing with excess skin on multiple areas of the lower body.
The best advancement? No more concerns about removing your belly button, of course!
What to Know Before a Tummy Tuck
Your surgeon and their team will provide you with in-depth pre-operative instructions unique to your surgery. But there remain common guidelines that must stay followed leading up to the surgery.
These guidelines are to:
- stop smoking for a minimum of two weeks before your abdominoplasty
- stop or minimize exercising for a minimum of three weeks after your abdominoplasty
- meal prep for after your surgery in order to minimize both stress and physical movement
- purchase special compression garments for your recovery process
- arrange both drop-off and pick-up from your procedure, as you will not be able to drive yourself
Abdominoplasty is done under general anesthesia, which keeps patients relaxed and asleep. You will be monitored by a board-certified anesthesiologist throughout the process.
The procedure itself is typically completed within three hours, with full recovery being achieved generally within seven weeks.
The procedure is performed under “light” general anesthesia. This will help keep you relaxed and asleep. A board-certified anesthesiologist will monitor you throughout the entire procedure. If you only want a tummy tuck, the procedure should take only two to three hours. But this depends on the type of tummy tuck. The incisions and procedure can differ based on the type of procedure you have as well.
How to Choose the Right Type of Tummy Tuck For You
During your consultation, your surgeon will work with you to determine your ideal outcomes–and, as such, what type of tummy tuck is right for your situation and your cosmetic goals. Especially considering how tummy tucks have improved over the decades.
Dr. Brent offers both virtual consultations and in-person appointments in order to best suit your needs and availability. As a multi-award winning double-board certified plastic surgeon whose results have been featured in media like Elle Magazine, Real Housewives of New Jersey, and InStyle, he customizes each and every procedure to ensure that your dream results become a reality. He and his staff are committed to providing innovative treatment for each of their patients.
Dr. Brent trained and studied at some of the best institutions in the world–including Harvard University, Yale University, UCSF, and UCLA. Now, he provides the best plastic surgery Beverly Hills and Los Angeles have to offer. He works as only one of three specialty-trained surgeons in the world to complete the year-long Aesthetic Surgery Fellowship at UCLA. He also maintains a prestigious F.A.C.S. degree. And he remains a member of both the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and our patient gallery of tummy tuck results proves that one million times over. Book your consultation today to take the first step on your transformation journey. You can also learn more about how tummy tucks have improved over the decades.