So you’re planning on getting a tummy tuck. You’re not alone; about 120,000 people decide to undergo the procedure each year just in the United States. It’s also a “high-satisfaction” procedure, meaning that most people who decide to get a tummy tuck don’t regret the decision.
Still, there are a few very important things to know before you go this route.
1. You’re not going to suddenly drop a ton of weight.
In fact, tummy tucks really aren’t a weight loss procedure, although they’re sometimes combined with those types of procedures. Doctors prefer to call it a “contouring process,” according to Prevention.
A tummy tuck will get rid of excess skin and can minimize or eliminate stretch marks, but it won’t get rid of your spare tire. Physicians recommend getting a tummy tuck when you’re already at your ideal weight.
2. There are potential complications.
From a medical perspective, the most serious complications include hematomas, which can occur in 5 percent of patients, and blood clots in the legs, which can occur in 2 percent of patients. Your doctor will advise you on how to limit these complications and what to do if you notice something unusual after the surgery.
3. Healing will take awhile.
You’re going to have scars, by the way—there are a few different types of scars, which will vary depending on the specifics of your procedure—and you’re going to need some time off work to recuperate. Your surgeon might tell you to take two weeks off, but expect to take much longer to fully recover.
4. You’ll be bloated at first.
You’re going to swell, and it’s going to hurt. It’s a major surgery, after all. As a result of that swelling, you’re probably not going to be able to fit in your normal street clothes for a while (again, this really isn’t a weight loss procedure). You’re also going to need some help at home, so if you’re living alone, be prepared to call on a close friend.
5. You’re also going to be bent over during that recovery period.
Yes, seriously. It’ll take a while for your body to adjust, and while you’re waiting, you’re going to be bent over into something of an L shape. It’s no picnic, but it’s temporary. If you have back problems, be sure to tell your surgery team so that they can advise you on how to proceed.
5. Your insurance probably won’t pay for the procedure.
Tummy tucks are often classified as cosmetic, which means that your insurance provider isn’t going to help with the bill. That can be an obstacle for many people, because the cost of the surgery can exceed $5,000 in some places.
6. A high price doesn’t always mean a knowledgeable surgeon.
If you’re really considering this type of procedure, make sure to do your homework. Get the surgeon’s qualifications and ask to see a portfolio. Your team should be able to adequately address any of the questions you have before the procedure—particularly questions about the recovery period.
7. Overall, most people are happy with their tummy tucks.
The procedure gives many patients their confidence back, since they can show their midriffs in public without feeling self-conscious. There are other benefits, too, as the surgery has been linked to lower rates of urinary incontinence in women (because of the way the tuck strengthens core and pelvic muscles).
If you’re thinking of going through with this procedure, talk to your physician and make sure you understand the risks. While it certainly isn’t a simple undertaking, it’s a great option for some people. Only you can decide if it’s an option for you.