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The Ultimate Tummy Tuck Preparation List

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Dr. Jude LaBarbera, MD Plastic Surgeon

The Ultimate Tummy Tuck Preparation List

Exercise and diet do not always help get the smoother, firmer abdominal contour that you desire. Tummy tuck surgery is the best procedure choice for anyone who is on a quest for a tighter tummy. This procedure entails the removal of excess fat and tightening of loose skin and muscles to deliver a slimmer belly profile. If you have thought about receiving this cosmetic surgery treatment, this article delivers a step by step tummy tuck preparation list that will get you to the desired procedure outcome.

1. Understand the procedure

Preparing for a tummy tuck starts with getting your facts right regarding what this procedure is, and what it is not. The goal of abdominoplasty is to reshape and tighten the abdominal area. To do this, plastic surgeons may use liposuction to get rid of excess fat, as well as tighten the skin and strengthen weak muscles in the belly area. Keep in mind that abdominoplasty is not a weight loss procedure. This procedure is designed for both men and women and can be performed on adult individuals of any age. Gilbert AZ plastic surgeon Dr. LaBarbera recommends that you achieve and maintain your ideal weight goal for at least a year before undergoing abdominoplasty. The average cost of a tummy tuck will vary depending on the needs of the patient, the location of the procedure, and the skills of the plastic surgeons.

2. Find a GREAT surgeon

Now that you know what a tummy tuck is, the next step is to find a highly-skilled, board-certified plastic surgeon for this procedure. According to, abdominoplasty has a very high patient satisfaction rate of over 95%. This still means that a small percentage of patients are unhappy with the outcome – if you look at it from the flip side. The key for patients is to work with a highly skilled and experienced plastic surgeon in order to obtain the best possible outcome.

Looking for the right plastic surgeon can be a different process for each person. Some people start with an online search to find surgeons who offer a particular procedure in their city. Others get referrals from their friends or family members. The important thing – regardless of the approach – is to ensure that the surgeon is highly competent and inspires your confidence. Look for board-certified plastic surgeons who have significant experience not just in plastic surgery, but specifically in the procedure you are interested in (in this case tummy tuck). Ask to see before and after photos, and check out reviews to find out what past patients have to say about the surgeon’s skills and approach. Once you have a few top contenders that you are happy with, you can visit their offices before making the final choice.

3. Go in for a consultation

Now that you have found a good surgeon to perform your abdominoplasty, the next step in your tummy tuck preparation list is to attend the first consultation visit. This initial consultation is important for the surgeon to gather information related to your medical history, as well as understand your concerns and expectations for the procedure. Make sure to ask any questions that you may have, particularly regarding the risks of the surgery and what can be expected during recovery. During the consultation visit, the surgeon will let you know if you are the right candidate for abdominoplasty, and chart the way forward for treatment. In some cases, the doctor may recommend alternative cosmetic treatments to suit your needs and goals. For instance, patients with stubborn belly fat and good skin elasticity may benefit from liposuction alone. All in all, going in for a consultation is what you need to set the stage for the surgery itself.

4. Know your procedure options

Tummy tuck is not a one-size-fits-all procedure. Some patients have a relatively small procedure to correct a bulging lower belly while others have a plus size tummy tuck. Knowing what options are available is a crucial aspect of your preparation for tummy tuck surgery. Plastic surgeons like Dr. LaBarbera typically offer the following types of tummy tuck:

  • Full tummy tuck – also referred to as a classic tummy tuck, this procedure is meant for individuals who wish to address cosmetic issues below and above the belly button. The goal of a full tummy tuck is to address correct general roundness and excess abdominal skin. Plastic surgeons complete this treatment by creating a u-shaped or horizontal incision in the pubic area. Another incision may be created around the belly button area if necessary. Fully tummy tucks deliver a natural-looking outcome with a much firmer abdomen.
  • Mini tummy tuck – this is a less invasive type of tummy tuck that specifically addresses the lower belly – below belly button. This cosmetic treatment is ideal for individuals who are looking to get rid of a belly ‘pooch’, stretch marks, or a tiny bulge in the lower abdominal area. Plastic surgeons perform this procedure by removing and tightening loose skin below the belly button via an incision usually along the upper edge of the pubic hair line.
  • Extended tummy tuck – an extended tummy tuck is performed when the aim of the treatment is to address the abdominal area while also improving the appearance of the hips and flanks. Surgeons create a horizontal incision that allows them to get rid of excess skin from the lower and upper abdominal regions, while also tightening the flanks and abdominal wall. This type of tummy tuck may be best suited for women who have been through multiple pregnancies, or individuals who have lost a lot of weight.

5. Learn what to expect

Learning the risks of the procedure, as well as what to expect during recovery, can help alleviate some of the tension and anxiety associated with this plastic surgery. Just like with any other surgical procedure, abdominoplasty comes with the risk of bleeding and infection. Other potential complications may include prolonged swelling, numbness, skin loss, fluid accumulation, and skin discoloration.

During tummy tuck recovery, you can expect to have drain tubes that are used to remove excess fluid from the treatment area. You will also have to wear a compression garment for about 6 weeks. Patients need to take antibiotic medication to minimize the risk of infection, as well as painkillers to improve their comfort level during recovery. You need to take at least 2-3 weeks off work, and it’ll take at least 6 weeks before you can resume strenuous activities.

6. Quit smoking and drinking

Quitting smoking is a must-do in your tummy tuck pre op checklist. Carbon monoxide gas and nicotine – the chemicals inhaled in cigarette smoke – can impair blood flow as well as increase the risk of complications. Alcohol can interact with painkillers and lead to dangerous consequences, while also increasing your risk of getting injured during recovery. Dr. LaBarbera recommends that tummy tuck candidates quit smoking at least 3 weeks before and after the surgery.

7. Get your tummy tuck supplies

It is important to get the supplies you’ll need for recovery beforehand in order to ensure a smooth healing process. Below are some of the key supplies needed after tummy tuck procedure:
  • Recliner
  • Body pillow
  • Toilet seat riser
  • Healthy, nutritious food items
  • Stool softeners
  • Alcohol wipes
  • Lanyard (for drains)
  • Compression socks
  • Scar care ointments
Knowing that you have everything you’ll need well before the procedure can go a long way to secure your peace of mind. Make sure to go through your abdominoplasty supplies list with your plastic surgeon’s office to make sure you are not leaving anything out.

8. Find a comfortable resting space

Immediately after the surgery, you’ll need to rest as much as possible so your body can heal and rebuild its strength. Make sure to isolate a specific room in your home where you can relax and rest as you recover from the abdominoplasty. Your bed should have ample pillows so you can relax comfortably, or more preferably a recliner. Stock up with your favorite TV shows, magazines, and even novels so you’ll be able to kill the boredom during the long hours of recovery.

9. Arrange for help during recovery

Making arrangements for someone to help out with basic chores is a must-have in your tummy tuck checklist. While this is an outpatient procedure, you will need someone to drive you home once you are discharged by the surgeon. Talk to a trusted friend or family member to see whether they can spare a few days to lend a helping hand. This is more so important for patients who have kids and pets. You will need someone to help you prepare meals, get in and out of bed, put on clothing, and run basic chores.


At the end of the day, the decision to have a tummy tuck is a highly individualized one. If you are not sure about this treatment, stick with diet and exercise to see if you can get the results you are looking for. Patients who have already decided to move forward with abdominoplasty can pave the way for a successful and smooth procedure through our tummy tuck preparation tips above.