What is a tummy tuck?

A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgical procedure. A doctor tightens your stomach muscles, removes excess fat and skin, and pulls the skin of your belly so it’s taut. After a tummy tuck, your abdomen looks and feels firmer and more athletic. When combined with good eating and exercise habits, the benefits of a tummy tuck can last for many years.

Some people combine tummy tucks with nonsurgical procedures, such as liposuction. At The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, surgical options range from mini tummy tucks to panniculectomy, for weight loss over 100 pounds.

Why would you need a tummy tuck?

Life’s changes, such as losing a lot of weight, having a baby, going through multiple surgeries or getting older, can cause permanent changes to your body. Sometimes, exercise and diet can’t fix skin that has stretched too much and lost its elasticity.

An unfirm, protruding abdomen can affect what clothes you can wear and how you feel. A tummy tuck procedure can help if you're bothered by problems like these in your abdominal area:

  • Excess tissue, skin and fat around your stomach 
  • Loose, sagging skin and folds of fat, sometimes called belly overhang 
  • Rashes caused by deep skin creases near your abdomen, groin and hip

Medical reasons for a tummy tuck

A  tummy tuck may improve certain conditions, but it isn’t a treatment for diseases like diabetes and it’s not a weight loss method. It won’t necessarily improve cholesterol or blood pressure disorders you might have if you’ve struggled with obesity. If you find it hard to lose and keep weight off, Ohio State's weight management specialists may be a good option for you.

If you have diabetes, your doctor will do careful screening before recommending abdominoplasty to ensure that:

  • Your diabetes is well managed.
  • You don’t have a history of kidney disease. 
  • Preoperative testing confirms the diabetes is under control, and it’s safe to have surgery.

Doctors may consider abdominoplasty for medical conditions like these:

  • Abdominal hernias: Major weight loss and procedures, such as cesarean section or appendectomy can weaken your abdomen, increasing hernia risk. A tummy tuck may help as part of a total core health plan through Ohio State’s Center for Abdominal Core Health in Columbus.
  • Stress urinary incontinence (SUI): Bladder control can weaken if there is pressure on your bladder and urethra (urinary duct). Urine may leak out during exercise or after a sudden sneeze, cough or laughter. SUI is treatable without surgery, but some studies show that abdominoplasty can help.
  • Back pain and posture: Childbirth or major weight loss can weaken stomach muscles and cause back pain. By removing fat and tightening muscles, a tummy tuck offers extra abdominal support and reduces pressure on your spine. This can help to ease back pain and may contribute to better posture.

Types of tummy tuck and abdominal procedures

A tummy tuck is cosmetic surgery, usually done to improve your appearance. The best procedure for you depends on your condition, goals, and the amount and type of excess skin and fat. Your Ohio State Wexner Medical Center plastic surgeon will help you determine your best choices. In addition to a full tummy tuck, surgical options include:

Mini tummy tuck

A mini tummy tuck may be an option if you only have moderate excess skin and fat. This procedure usually eliminates the need for surgeons to cut your navel — a step that is usually necessary during full tummy tuck surgery. Mini tummy tucks require smaller incisions, which shortens treatment and recovery time.


Although a tummy tuck is considered cosmetic surgery, experts may consider panniculectomy a medical necessity after major weight loss of 100 pounds or more.

Panniculus is the thick layer of fat and skin in your lower abdomen. Massive weight loss leaves excess skin, which can drape down like an apron around the stomach. It can cause significant discomfort and cause other problems such as:

  • Back pain
  • Loss of confidence
  • Skin rashes
  • Ulcers
  • Yeast

If you’ve lost over 100 pounds, doctors may advise a panniculectomy. Surgeons can perform a panniculectomy alone or in addition to a tummy tuck.

Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck or other abdominal procedures?

If you’re considering a tummy tuck or panniculectomy, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center doctors will review your health, history, lifestyle, goals and expectations for surgery.

To have a tummy tuck or panniculectomy procedure, you must:

  • Be in good physical health
  • Maintain a steady, stable weight
  • Be a nonsmoker
  • Live a healthy lifestyle
  • Have realistic expectations about tummy tuck results

In addition, you should meet the following criteria for a panniculectomy. You need to:

  • Have lost 100 pounds or more
  • Have maintained a steady weight for at least a year
  • Have related problems, such as back pain and skin disorders, such as rashes or ulcers
  • Be enrolled in a diet and exercise program, such as Ohio State’s comprehensive weight management program
  • Be committed to long-term diet, nutrition and exercise

Call 614-293-8566 to schedule a consultation with a tummy tuck surgeon near you, right here in Columbus, Ohio. 

Risks of tummy tuck or abdominal surgery

From your first visit with your Ohio State plastic surgeon, you’ll learn about benefits and risks of tummy tuck surgery. Surgical risks include those commonly associated with any surgery, such as infection, bleeding and anesthesia complications.

Tummy tuck risks include:

  • Asymmetry (uneven results) 
  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clots) 
  • Discolored skin 
  • Fat necrosis (death of fatty tissue deep in the skin) 
  • Fluid buildup (seroma)  
  • Heart and lung complications 
  • Loose skin 
  • Numbness 
  • Poor wound healing 
  • Results not as expected 
  • Scarring 
  • Skin loss

The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center's surgeons put patient safety first, taking every precaution to minimize risks. In the unlikely event of complications, doctors discuss medical or surgical therapies, including revisional surgery. To reduce risks, it’s important to ask questions, fully understand your procedure and carefully follow pre- and postsurgery instructions.

How much does a tummy tuck cost?

Tummy tuck costs vary depending on the procedure and whether you have other procedures at the same time, such as nonsurgical skin rejuvenation. Since it’s considered a cosmetic procedure, most insurance companies don’t cover tummy tuck surgery.

If you have certain medical conditions or plan to have a panniculectomy, financing and insurance coverage may be available.

Ask your insurer about coverage. You can also call 614-293-8566 to schedule an appointment with a tummy tuck surgeon near you to discuss treatment options and costs.

Tummy tuck “before and after” results

You won’t find any one-size-fits-all solutions at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center — just those that are right for you. When you visit one of our Ohio State Wexner Medical Center plastic surgery locations in Columbus or other nearby outpatient clinics, our surgeons will discuss procedures and share before and after images and stories that correspond with the procedure you’re considering.

What to expect

During your first consultation with an Ohio State Wexner Medical Center tummy tuck surgeon, your surgeon will answer all your questions. Your doctor is there at every step, from your first visit through follow-up care.

Preparing for your tummy tuck treatment

Before tummy tuck surgery, doctors may require you to:

  • Have a physical exam or medical evaluation
  • Have blood drawn and other lab testing samples
  • Temporarily stop certain medications or supplements
  • Take antibiotics or other medication

Doctors perform tummy tuck surgery in one of the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s hospital or outpatient clinic locations in Columbus or nearby surgery centers. Your surgeon and care team will tell you how to prepare for your procedure. They’ll go over what to expect, when to arrive and where to check in when you arrive.

Before your tummy tuck surgery, remember to:

  • Make advance plans for postoperative care and other needs, such as chores and child care
  • Arrange for someone to stay with you in the hospital and take you home after you’re discharged
  • Pack loose-fitting, comfortable clothes to wear when you go home
  • Arrive early and allow extra time for traffic or unexpected delays
  • Check in as directed by your care team

Someone will take you to your room and explain presurgery preparations. You’ll see your doctor and can ask any questions you may have.

During your tummy tuck treatment

Before surgery, you may receive antibiotics or medication to keep you comfortable. A tummy tuck is usually done under general anesthesia. A nurse takes you to the operating room. The anesthesiologist administers anesthesia, so you fall into a deep, sleep-like state and won’t feel anything. The anesthesiologist is a doctor who manages medication during surgery and monitors your breathing and vital signs.

Tummy tuck surgery can take two to four hours to complete, depending on your condition and procedure. If you have a full tummy tuck, your plastic surgeon will:

  • Make a horizontal, hip-to-hip incision across your bikini line, along the lower abdomen. Its type and length depend on how much excess skin you have. If you’re having a mini tummy tuck, the incision is shorter and runs from inner thigh to inner thigh.
  • In most tummy tucks, surgeons need to temporarily separate the navel from surrounding tissue in order to lift your abdominal skin to tighten abdominal muscles.
  • After the abdominal skin is lifted, the surgeon tightens muscles, removes excess skin and then redrapes and pulls remaining skin until it’s taut.
  • The surgeon stitches the navel back into position and closes the incisions with material such as sutures, skin glue or tiny clips.
  • You’ll wake up in the recovery room with specialized nursing care.

After tummy tuck surgery

Once the anesthesia wears off and your condition is stable, your nurse takes you to a hospital room to rest. You’ll receive personalized nursing care and your doctor will talk with you about the tummy tuck recovery process.

  • You’ll have wound dressings and bandages.
  • You may have thin drainage tubes, which help drain excess fluids. Your doctor will remove these at a follow-up office visit, as well as any stitches you may have. 
  • Your doctor and nurse will discuss wound care and other steps, from discharge to follow-up visits.

Most people can go home the second day after tummy tuck surgery. You may wear supportive compression garments while your abdominal area heals.

Results of tummy tuck surgery

You can expect temporary swelling and some permanent scarring. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s plastic surgery specialists have adept surgical skills and take steps to ensure that scars are discreet and minimally visible.

As your surgical wounds heal and swelling goes down, you’ll begin to see the results of your tummy tuck surgery. These include a flat, firm stomach and tight abdominal muscles. The contour of your stomach will be more balanced with your body type and weight.

Tummy tuck recovery

After a tummy tuck, you can expect some bruising, swelling and discomfort. Most people can go back to work and do nonstrenuous activities after a week or two. Your abdominal area continues to heal over several weeks during your tummy tuck recovery. Your doctor will prescribe medication to minimize discomfort.

For six weeks or longer, it’s important to avoid any activity that might strain your abdominal area. Your surgeon may advise you to take short walks as soon as you can after your tummy tuck. This helps improve circulation and healing, while preventing blood clots.

Why choose Ohio State for a tummy tuck?

If you’re looking for the best tummy tuck surgeons in Ohio and locations close to Columbus, the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center has the advanced skill and expertise you need for the results you expect. The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center is a nationally recognized and respected academic health center.

The Ohio State Wexner Medical Center’s plastic surgery team is led by physicians who have advanced, fellowship-level training in this specialty. You’ll receive expert consultation and care from board certified plastic surgeons who focus exclusively on plastic surgery at one of the nation’s leading innovators in surgery and medicine.

Our team places a high priority on using the latest, research-backed approaches, with a strong emphasis on the safety and smooth recovery of our patients.

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