Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)

There’s a reason that the tummy tuck – or abdominoplasty – is one of the most commonly requested plastic surgery procedures in Dallas, Plano and Frisco. Fluctuations in weight (e.g. after pregnancy) can lead to stubborn fat deposits in the abdomen. Stretched skin can lose its ability to bounce back to its original shape, making permanent stretch marks. In addition, the abdominal muscles can separate, leading to a bulge that no number of ab-crunches can fix. In these situations, a tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty surgery can be a good option to restore your shape.

There are quite a few variants of the abdominoplasty. For example, you may have read about the “mini”, “tiny”, partial, traditional, extended, reverse, vertical, or the fleur-de-lis.

Bottom line: a good tummy tuck needs to

  • remove stretched out skin and excess fat
  • tighten abdominal muscles, and
  • restore your hourglass shape.

The smallest incision that can effectively and safely accomplish all these goals is the best option.

Dr. Purushottam Nagarkar, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Plano and Frisco
Dr. Nagarkar on the abdominoplasty:

Tummy tucks are incredibly satisfying procedures for patients. Sometimes no amount of diet or exercise can get rid of excess stretch-marked skin, or abdominal muscles that have been pushed apart by pregnancy. The tummy tuck solves both of these problems, restoring your natural curves. Based on a lot of research in this field (some of which I have been fortunate enough to be a part of), I do not place drains for most of my patients. This adds a great deal of comfort and convenience to your post-operative course. In addition, I use a long-lasting local anesthetic for my patients. It provides up to 3 days of pain control, helping you get over the worst period of pain in relative comfort.

Who is a good candidate for an abdominoplasty:

Most patients without any major medical problems can be good candidates for an abdominoplasty. The best candidates are patients who have returned to their goal weight, and have excess skin with stretch marks below the belly button. With a few exceptions, patients who may wish to become pregnant in the future are generally not good candidates. The weight gain and loss in pregnancy can undo the results of the surgery. Depending on the location of your excess skin, you may be a candidate for a “mini” tummy tuck (i.e. a smaller incision).

Before & After photos of Abdominoplasty

How to prepare for surgery:

Dr. Nagarkar will let you know if any laboratory tests are required prior to your surgery. You must stop smoking or using nicotine-containing items (such as patches or gums) for 6 weeks before and after surgery. This is critical, as smoking increases the risk of significant complications. Finally, you will discuss with Dr. Nagarkar which medications and supplements you should stop taking before surgery. It is very important to provide complete information to prevent any post-operative problems.  You will get detailed written instructions for pre- and post-operative care. In addition, you will receive any postoperative prescriptions you might need so that you can have them filled by your pharmacy in advance.

What to expect on the day of surgery:

Tummy tucks generally require around two to three hours. You should plan on having nothing to eat or drink after midnight the night before surgery. You will stay overnight at the hospital for observation and to make sure your pain is well controlled. Someone should drive you to and from the surgery, and help around the house for several days.

What to expect after surgery:


Your surgery is designed and performed to achieve the ideal contour and symmetry that is possible on the operating table. Significant swelling occurs after surgery, which takes 3 to 6 months to fully resolve. You will see some of the improvement in your shape immediately, but it will continue to improve as the swelling decreases. Your scars may appear raised and inflamed at first, but will fade, soften, and flatten, up to a year after surgery.

The first few days:

The evening after surgery, we will help you get out of bed and walk around. This is critical to reduce the risk of forming blood clots in your legs. Dr. Nagarkar will check on you the night of surgery to make sure you are doing well and that everything is in order. You will receive a phone call from us after you go home to check in with you and to answer any questions you might have.


Narcotic pain medications are usually needed for the first week or so. After that point, anti-inflammatory over the counter medications like Tylenol and Ibuprofen are often adequate.

Incision care:

Your incisions will all be closed with internal sutures and surgical glue, so you can generally start showering the day after surgery. You should not soak in a tub, swim, or get in a jacuzzi for at least 3 weeks. We will provide you with an abdominal wrap to support your muscles. You should wear this for the first 6 weeks, whenever you are up and about. You should protect your scars from sun exposure for at least 6 months. Scars are extra sensitive to sunlight during this period. Dr. Nagarkar may discuss special scar care techniques such as silicone sheeting or moisturizers with you. If you are prone to forming keloids, it is very important that you discuss this with him prior to your surgery.


Most patients do not require surgical drains.


You can return to your regular diet after surgery, but for the first day or two, stick with lighter meals. Anesthesia can sometimes make your digestive system a bit sensitive, and having a double cheeseburger the evening after surgery is not recommended. It is critical that you refrain from high-sodium foods because salt may increase swelling or prolong the time required for your swelling to resolve.


You will require 2 to 3 weeks off work if you work mostly at a desk. If you do any type of lifting or physical labor, you should plan to have 6 weeks off.


You will be able to go back to non-strenuous activities such as walking, using a computer, writing, and so on, immediately after surgery. You should not lift anything over 10 pounds (or a gallon of milk), for 6 weeks. This is very important, because it allows your muscles to heal appropriately.


You can resume driving once you are no longer taking narcotic medications, and when you feel that you are in full control of your car. This often takes a week or two.


Aerobic exercise (e.g. yoga, running, cycling, barre) must be stopped for 3 weeks to allow the skin to heal. Exercise involving any lifting over 10 lbs should be stopped for 6 weeks to allow the muscles to heal.

Follow-up visits:

You will see Dr. Nagarkar 7 – 10 days after surgery to ensure that you are healing appropriately. We will see you again at 3 and 6 weeks, at which time Dr. Nagarkar may clear you from any activity restrictions. Finally you will have appointments around 3 months, 6 months and 1 year after surgery.

To meet Dr. Nagarkar in person, schedule your consultation or call us.