One of the most potentially transforming procedures for your body is abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). Dr. Lawrence Tong has more than 17 years of practice experience performing this dynamic surgery for Toronto patients. Listed as one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures according to ASPS statistics, abdominoplasty aims to achieve a thinner, flatter, tighter, and stretch mark-free midsection. A tummy tuck can achieve this aesthetic by addressing the main components that affect the appearance of the abdomen: excess skin, excess fat, and lax abdominal muscles.
The Aesthetically Ideal Abdomen
The aesthetically ideal abdomen is flat. There are no stretch marks or hanging skin present and musculature is firm, with only a modest layer of fat. Pregnancy and/or weight gain or loss are the most common causes of an altered abdominal appearance. These events cause changes that result in stretch marks, lax abdominal musculature, or excess fat. Exercise can improve the thickness of the fat layer, but exercise has no effect on stretch marks, and will not shrink the skin. If there is significant muscle laxity, it cannot be corrected with exercise alone.
What Can Tummy Tuck Surgery Accomplish?
An abdominoplasty can achieve impressive rejuvenation of the abdomen, as the body sculpting surgery addresses the three main components that contribute to an undesirable abdominal appearance (skin, fat, and muscle). If you have some or all of the following concerns, a tummy tuck could be just the procedure to help you achieve your goals.
- Skin and stretch marks: excess skin cannot be ‘exercised away’ because the skin is passive; it does not have a physiologic response to exercise. An abdominoplasty directly removes abdominal skin and accompanying stretch marks, thus achieving a tighter abdomen with fewer— or even no—stretch marks.
- Fat: When the skin is removed, the accompanying fat attached to the skin is also removed. Supplementary liposuction may also be performed to further thin out any remaining fat on the rest of the abdomen during tummy tuck surgery. Excess fat may still be an issue, even for patients seeking a tummy tuck as a result of massive weight loss (i.e. bariatric surgery).
- Lax muscles: Just as skin can be stretched, the abdominal muscles can also be stretched, thinned, and weakened with pregnancy and/or weight gain. The medical term for the separation of muscles is known as diastasis recti. The central connective tissue is literally stretched out and while exercise can strengthen the muscles, no amount of exercise can return the muscles back to their original position if the diastasis is large. During abdominoplasty, the muscles are brought back to their initial positioning and often made even tighter. The effect is to create an internal ‘girdle’ that leaves you with a flat and possibly concave abdomen, as well as a slimmer waistline.
Who is a Candidate for Abdominoplasty?
Patients with Specific Abdominal Concerns
If you experience some or all of the following issues, you may be a candidate for a tummy tuck:
- Excess abdominal skin/loose abdominal skin with or without excess abdominal fat
- Abdominal stretch marks
- Lax or separated abdominal muscles
Weight Loss Patients
Patients who have lost significant weight are also good candidates; this group of patients includes those who have had bariatric weight loss procedures. These individuals benefit greatly from the removal of excess skin and muscle tightening. If you wish to remove redundant skin from the abdomen as well as additional regions of the body, a full lower body lift may be able to provide the best possible improvement.
Important Considerations with Tummy Tuck Surgery
Not a Weight Loss Surgery
An abdominoplasty is not considered a weight loss procedure, and should not be viewed as a substitute for a good diet and regular exercise. The actual weight of the removed tissue is almost always less than 10 pounds.
The Ideal Age for a Tummy Tuck
The procedure can be performed in younger or older patients alike. The most frequently-seen patient is a woman who has undergone pregnancy and wishes to restore her abdominal region to her pre-pregnancy appearance.
Abdominoplasty should be performed on those who are healthy and relatively fit. Smokers must quit at least two weeks prior to surgery and avoid resuming after surgery. Dr. Tong assesses every patient to make sure his or her health status is appropriate for undergoing abdominoplasty.
The Ideal Weight for Tummy Tuck
Patients must have a body mass index (BMI) that is below 35, and ideally less than 30. As BMI increases beyond 35, the final result tends to be subpar, and the risk of a complication may increase. If your abdomen has significant visceral adipose (fat beneath the muscle layer), muscle tightening will not be effective in the long-term. It will bulge out again with time. Dr. Tong always assesses for visceral adipose during your consultation.
Pregnancy after Tummy Tuck
Tummy tuck surgery can be performed on patients who plan to have pregnancies in the future. There should be no ill-effects to the pregnancy or the baby’s growth and development, but patients should understand that childbearing may alter their tummy tuck results.
Smoking and Abdominoplasty
Smoking is a significant risk factor for wound healing complications after a tummy tuck. We require patients to stop smoking at least 15 days prior to surgery, and not to resume during the healing period.
Drainage Tubes are Used
Two drainage tubes are placed during the procedure to give wound fluid (which is produced by the body after surgery) a route to escape. The drainage tubes remain in place for one week, and are easily removed at your first postoperative visit. You will be shown how to take care of them while at home.
Tummy Tuck Consultation
It is crucial that you do your research before deciding whether a tummy tuck is right for you. Your journey starts with a personal consultation with Dr. Tong. During your abdominoplasty consultation, you will receive a substantial amount of information. Dr. Tong will make sure that you understand the entire process, and will see to it that your questions are satisfactorily answered. You will have the opportunity to view photographs and examples of his work. It is our goal to make you an educated patient. We know that an educated patient will make better decisions about their surgery, and their surgeon.
How is Tummy Tuck Surgery Performed?
Dr. Tong performs your tummy tuck surgery while you are under general anesthesia. During the time you are under anesthesia, you are asleep and completely unaware of your surroundings. He performs your surgery in the CPSO-accredited private surgery centre at 199 Avenue Road. The surgery centre is located a short distance from his office at 7 St. Thomas Street.
Dr. Tong first makes the incisions around the navel and lower abdomen. The skin and fat is then elevated from the muscles. He tightens the muscles (plication) with multiple stitches, rendering the abdominal wall firm and free of laxity. Next, the elevated skin is pulled downwards; the excess, along with its associated fatty tissue, is removed. Prior to the final stitching, Dr. Tong makes a small opening on the remaining abdominal skin, corresponding to the position of the navel. The navel is then brought out through the opening, back to its original position. Two drainage tubes are placed in the wound. The incisions are then meticulously stitched together. If the remaining abdominal tissue has a significant fat layer, Dr. Tong may perform some supplementary Liposuction. A dressing is applied, and you are placed in a compression garment.
Overnight Stay after Tummy Tuck
Abdominoplasty is a procedure that usually involves an overnight stay, and we strongly recommend you stay overnight at our facility for your convenience and added reassurance. This evening stay allows you to recover comfortably with professional nursing care and be seen by Dr. Tong the next morning without having to commute to his office. Our overnight stay facility was specifically designed to meet the comfort, convenience, and safety needs of cosmetic surgery patients who benefit from the specialized recovery care and attention they might not receive at home.
What is a Mini Tummy Tuck?
A mini tummy tuck is a variation of the traditional abdominoplasty procedure that still addresses the abdominal skin, muscle, and fat, but to a less extensive degree. This surgery is intended for patients who are primarily concerned with excess fat in the stomach region and bulging of the abdominal muscles in the lower abdomen, rather than loose skin. During a mini tummy tuck, redundant fat along the entire abdomen is reduced extracted via liposuction, while a modest amount of loose skin is removed. The procedure is also designed to tighten stretched musculature, but focuses on the abdominal muscles located below the naval. Since a mini abdominoplasty does not primarily focus on removing large amounts of excess skin, candidates for the procedure should have good skin elasticity with a small degree of sagging. The benefits of a mini tummy tuck are numerous and typically include a faster recovery period, less postoperative swelling, and a shorter scar after surgery.
What is Recovery From Abdominoplasty Like?
Immediately After Surgery
After the procedure, our staff transfers you to the post-anesthetic recovery area, where you gradually wake up while being monitored by our registered nurses. Our staff will then move you to your overnight stay suite to spend the evening.
Our nurses attend to you throughout the evening to make sure you are comfortable and recovering properly. The nurse will assist you in getting up to go to the bathroom, changing dressings when appropriate, and administering medications as needed. They will also teach you how to take care of your drainage tubes prior going home. In the morning, you will have a nurse-assisted shower and Dr. Tong will come to check on you, change your dressings, and allow you to return home accompanied by your family member or friend.
Recovery at Home
You will notice that it is uncomfortable to stand straight at first. We instruct you to stay slightly bent at the waist for the first five days. Sleeping with your back propped up and placing a pillow under the knees will also help reduce the tension along the incision line. As the tissues of the abdomen gradually stretch out, you will be able to stand straight up after approximately one week. We encourage you to take it easy, and not perform any strenuous activities for the first four weeks. You will have some discomfort in the abdomen, similar to the feeling of sore abdominal muscles after a very strenuous workout. Bruising is typically mild to moderate, but it may be more significant if some liposuction was performed. Showering is permitted 24 hours after surgery. Dr. Tong will prescribe narcotic pain medication, which is typically used during the first one to two weeks.
Return Visits after Abdominoplasty
Your first post-operative visit with Dr. Tong occurs one week after your tummy tuck. He removes the external stitches and the drains. You will see him again two weeks after surgery so he can monitor your progress. You will have additional follow-up visits at six weeks, six months, and occasionally one year after your tummy tuck. Photographs are taken at these visits to document your progress. These photos are for your medical records and are not used for other purposes without your written consent.
Like any procedure, tummy tuck surgery has risks and complications associated with it. The risks are low, but they do exist. At your consultation, Dr. Tong will go over the pertinent potential risks and complications associated with abdominoplasty.
Will I Have Visible Scars After a Tummy Tuck?
Any surgical procedure will leave some type of scar. A plastic surgeon specializes in obtaining the least visible scars, and putting them in inconspicuous locations.
The main incision in abdominoplasty is on the lower abdomen situated at, or below, the level of a C-section scar. This incision extends laterally to span from hip bone to hip bone. It generally heals well and is hidden below the bikini line. In the nude, the scar may be visible depending on the stage of scar maturity. The scar can be placed lower or higher to some degree, depending on patient preferences.
A second incision occurs around the navel. This scar tends to blend in naturally with the surrounding skin, and hides within the natural curvature of the navel. Dr. Tong will discuss all incision options and their resulting scars with you thoroughly during your tummy tuck consultation.
How Much Does a Tummy Tuck Cost?
Abdominoplasty at our Toronto practice generally costs between $8,000 and $11,000 depending on the extent of your tummy tuck. For mini tummy tuck patients, the price of the procedure often falls between $7,000 and $8,000. In the vast majority of cases, the total costs are standardized for patients regardless of patient size and severity. Occasionally, other factors are used to calculate the overall tummy tuck expenses, including:
- The complexity of your procedure
- The surgical technique utilized, especially if a non-standard approach is required
- The details of your treatment plan that may involve deviations from a typical patient’s surgical blueprint
An accurate and personalized cost estimate will be provided after a thorough consultation with Dr. Tong, during which he will assess your concerns and unique needs. In order to help mitigate plastic surgery costs, Yorkville Institute of Plastic Surgery accepts financing plans through Medicard®, a flexible and reputable healthcare lending company that can make your surgical expenses more affordable. After being approved through the easy application process, Medicard® offers qualified patients their choice of several payment plans with low monthly installments. Our team is available to answer any additional questions you may have about the cost of abdominoplasty.
To learn more about how Toronto tummy tuck surgeon Dr. Lawrence Tong can help you with abdomen’s appearance, set up a tummy tuck consultation by giving us a call at (416) 972-0999. If you wish, let us give you a call; just fill out our contact form and we will call you on the same or the next business day. No physician’s referral is needed.
See Dr. Tong’s work in our tummy tuck before-and-after photos.
Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) at a Glance
- Placing the scar too high
- Performing the procedure on someone who has significant internal abdominal fat