How to Know When You Need a Tummy Tuck

Tummy tucks have been around for such a long time, and become so routine, that we mention them almost in the same breath as “diet” and “exercise.”  

There is a reason tummy tucks have become such an everyday feature in our vocabulary. If you have unwanted belly fat and/or loose skin, no matter how much of it, a tummy tuck can get rid of it. Once and for all, in one fell swoop, permanently. If a flat tummy is your goal, a tummy tuck is the best way to get there quickly, and effectively.

What You Get With a Tummy Tuck

However, a tummy tuck is not for sissies, as they say. It’s a surgical procedure, it results in a scar – well-placed and therefore well-disguised in the hands of a skilled plastic surgeon, but a scar nonetheless – and the recovery is quite lengthy compared to most other cosmetic surgeries. When you undergo a tummy tuck, a portion of belly fat and skin are excised – cut – using a scalpel. If there is damage to the underlying muscle – aka your sixpack – the surgeon repairs the muscle before excising the tissue and skin. If you’ve undergone pregnancy and childbirth, chances are your stomach muscle is split and needs to be repaired; you won’t achieve a completely flat tummy otherwise.

A tummy tuck often also includes belly button repair. It’s amazing what a difference a well-rounded and appropriate placed belly button can make to the overall appearance, so simply removing excess skin is typically not enough. You’ll want your belly button to match your new flat tummy.

It’s easy to know when you “need” a tummy tuck. If you don’t want to wear a bikini because you have unsightly skin folds, you’re a good candidate for a tummy tuck. If your belly button resembles a long slit more than a button shape, chances are you could use a tummy tuck including belly button repair. If you have tried diet and exercise without making a noticeable dent in your belly fat, a tummy tuck can fix it.

But the question is: Is a tummy tuck an overkill? Do I really NEED to subject myself to the surgery, its inherent risks, and the longer recovery?

Less-Invasive Tummy Tuck Alternatives

In some cases, the answer is no. For many women, results close to those of a tummy tuck can be achieved with much less invasiveness. But these solutions have not been around as long, and have been made possible only in recent years with the rise of radio frequency assisted technology. Renuvion by Apyx and BodyTite by inMode both use this technology to achieve surgical-like results without the surgery. They are minimally-invasive procedures that tighten the skin to a much higher degree than previously possible.

Minimally-invasive means that they don’t require surgical instruments, cutting of skin, or sutures. These procedures use a kind of wand or cannula that is inserted under the skin to emit controlled heat to shrink tissues. Renuvion differes from BodyTite in that it uses helium plasma to achieve higher, more targeted heat in shorter intervals, which can speed up the procedure without the risk of burning.

Radio frequency assisted liposuction, as it is also called, can be administered under local anesthesia or IV sedation. It is not technically liposuction, as by itself it does not suction off any fat. However, it is commonly paired with liposuction in the same procedure, since you’ll already be anesthetized in that area. It makes a lot of sense to remove excess fat before tightening the skin.

Tummy Tuck vs Radio Frequency Assisted Skin Tightening

The recovery from radio frequency powered skin contraction is typically short, allowing for a swift return to regular activities and exercise after just a few days. When combined with power-assisted liposuction to deconstruct fat cells and flush them out, such skin tightening treatments are very effective. They can yield anywhere from 35% to 60% skin contraction, which is quite remarkable given that no classic surgery is needed.

Yes, a tummy tuck will get you that flat stomach you long for, no doubt. And it is, as mentioned above, a routine surgery plastic surgeons in the United States perform almost as much of as breast augmentations. It carries minimal risks and produces awesome results. If an absolutely flat stomach is your main goal, and if you can set aside 1-2 weeks of downtime and a about a month without physical exertion beyond regular daily activities, a tummy tuck might still be your first choice.

However, if you are not comfortable with surgery, or if your skin laxity is not so severe as to absolutely need a tummy tuck – or arm or neck lift, for that matter – then you should take a serious look at skin tightening treatments such as BodyTite, FaceTite, and Renuvion.

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