Have you ever sucked in your gut or hidden behind your child to camouflage your belly in a family photo? Have you ever hunted for a swimsuit with a strategically placed band of Lycra to minimize the appearance of your gut? Have you considered just skipping the swimsuit altogether because of your tummy?

If you’ve gone through any of these literal or figurative gymnastics, you may have wondered if you are a good tummy tuck candidate.

Tummy tuck is the simple name for a procedure surgeons call abdominoplasty.

Let’s be clear here. A tummy tuck isn’t a stand in for weight loss. Instead it works best for people who can’t seem to get rid of a flabby or protruding abdomen, despite their best efforts at diet and exercise.

You might have excess fat in the belly region that doesn’t respond to diet and exercise like it did 20 years ago. It might be that you have excess skin that refuses to tighten up after pregnancy or significant weight loss. Or you might have diastasis recti – a condition in which the muscles that are responsible for the coveted “six pack” are weakened and separated.

In these cases, a tummy tuck can offer a solution to your problem by removing fat, excess skin, and repairing the abdominal muscles.

Are you a good tummy tuck candidate?

If your weight is relatively stable, you don’t smoke, and you are unhappy with the appearance of your abdomen, yes, you could be an excellent candidate. At least it’s worth discussing with a plastic surgeon.

Remember that as you meet with your surgeon you must be candid with him. Be honest about your goals and don’t hold back answering any questions he may have about your medical history. This will help him determine the benefits and risks of tummy tuck for you.

Likewise, don’t be shy about asking questions of your surgeon. You will want to know if he is appropriately qualified to perform your surgery. In addition ask specific questions about the procedure you are seeking –

      In what facility will the tummy tuck be performed?

      Exactly how will the tummy tuck be performed?

      What are the risks of a tummy tuck?

      What can I expect while recovering from a tummy tuck?

      What if I’m unhappy with results of my tummy tuck?

In addition, it’s a good idea to review before and after photos of your surgeon’s patients. This will give you a realistic look at what kind of results can be expected.

There are some people who may not be good tumy tuck candidates. First, if you smoke, you are not a good candidate for plastic surgery. Smoking will negatively affect the results of your surgery and impair healing. So quit smoking before you seek plastic surgery.

Further, if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, it is best to reach a stable weight before having cosmetic surgery. If you plan to become pregnant in the future, it could undo some of the results of your surgery. It might be best to wait until you are finished having children. However, if you have severe diastasis, it may be worth discussing with a surgeon even if you do expect future pregnancies.

Simply put, if your weight is going to change significantly in the future for any reason, it could affect the results of a tummy tuck.

Over the next few months, we will share plenty of details about what is involved in tummy tuck surgery. How the procedure is performed, how the muscles are repaired, adding liposuction to the tummy tuck, and practical aspects of preparing for and recovering from surgery. Stay tuned for a valuable guide to tummy tuck surgery.

In the meantime, if you want to see what kind of results Dr. Slack’s patients have after tummy tuck surgery, browse the tummy tuck gallery. And if you want to discuss your options with Dr. Slack, set up your tummy tuck consultation