A Brief History of the Tummy Tuck

With more than 117,000 procedures performed in 2014, according to the 2014 Plastic Surgery Statistics Report, the tummy tuck is among the top 6 cosmetic surgery procedures in the United States. Compared to the approximately 62,000 procedures performed in 2000, the tummy tuck has increased in popularity by 87 percent.

Though it’s gained its most notable traction in the past 15 or so years, the tummy tuck has actually been around for a couple hundred years. To give you a better idea of how this procedure has evolved over the years into what it is now, here is a brief history of the tummy tuck.

The earliest forms of the tummy tuck occurred in the 19th century.

As long ago as the early 1800s, people were using excess skin to cover up open wounds. This was done mainly to help critically injured people, rather than for cosmetic purposes. In 1890, the first official tummy tuck was performed by Dr. Demars and Dr. Marx in France. Less than a decade later, in 1899, a gynecologic surgeon in Baltimore, Maryland performed what we now know as a tummy tuck or its medical term: abdominoplasty. For the first few years, performing a tummy tuck without removing the belly button was seen as impossible. However, that changed during the 20th century.

The belly button was saved during 20th century tummy tucks.

As the years progressed, physicians made advances in the art of surgery—making for more efficient and safer tummy tuck procedures. Six years after the first official tummy tuck, in 1905, doctors in France were able to perform a tummy tuck that preserved the belly button. Using vertical and horizontal flap incisions (rather than one horizontal incision across the middle of the abdomen), the belly button could survive the procedure.

The tummy tuck was originally used for treating wounds—not cosmetic purposes.

The tummy tuck technique became especially useful for treating injured World War I soldiers. After treating millions of wounded soldiers, surgeons eventually refined their techniques, creating the foundation for modern plastic surgery. During the 1970s and 1980s, doctors performed tummy tucks for patients suffering from conditions like an umbilical hernia. Typically only a condition affecting babies, an umbilical hernia is when part of the intestine makes its way into the umbilical opening in the abdomen, characterized by a bulge near the belly button.

The modern tummy tuck is useful for many different purposes.

Today, thanks to the development of anesthesia and proper sterilization techniques, the tummy tuck is much safer and more effective than in its early stages. The tummy tuck now is often used to remove C-section scars, tighten muscles in the abdomen, remove excess skin after significant weight loss, and more. The tummy tuck is also a major component in Mommy Makeover procedures, in addition to a breast augmentation or lift and liposuction when needed. These personalized procedures allow a woman to reclaim her tight tummy and youthful look after pregnancy and childbirth.

As you can see, the history of the tummy tuck is long and esteemed. If you have any questions about the modern-day tummy tuck, also called abdominoplasty, you should contact a plastic surgeon to set up a private consultation

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