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“I’m a Celebrity Plastic Surgeon and Here’s When You Should Consider a Tummy Tuck”

Plus before and after photos you have to see to believe!

Whether you’ve recently shed a lot of weight, carrying excess skin or weight around your belly or simply want to tighten up the area, you may be considering a tummy tuck. The popular plastic surgery procedure helps to battle that extra ab flab when diet and exercise alone don’t seem to do the trick. Some women go under the knife and get one to help them drop two to three dress sizes — and get that desirable toned tummy. The good news: These days, technological innovations have made tummy tucks less invasive and shortened recovery times. And while still pricey (around $4,000-$8,000), tummy tucks cost much less than they once did. Indeed, there is no shortage of tummy tuck before and after pictures and videos on social media for you to gauge whether the procedure is the right one for you. But to be sure, we spoke to famed Newport Beach board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Terry Dubrow, star of the hit show Botched. Read on to learn more so you can judge for yourself.

What is a tummy tuck?

According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), an abdominoplasty — a.k.a. a tummy tuck — removes excess skin and tissue from the abdomen to create a smoother, firmer appearance. Nearly 140,000 women go under the knife for a tummy tuck each year in the U.S. alone. “The reason is that after women have children, their abdominal wall separates, and no amount of working out or dieting will tighten it up and bring those muscles back together again,” says Dr. Dubrow. He’s done over 10,000 tummy tucks in his career, and people travel from all over the world to see him — especially when they get a botched one.

That has helped catapult the midsection slimming surgery to the world’s top 5 most requested plastic surgery procedures, following only behind liposuction and breast augmentation, and the #1 Dr. Dubrow gets asked to perform in his practice. So why are women flocking to docs to get this operation done? Read on to learn more about the procedure Dr. Dubrow says he performs 3 to 4 times a week. 

Terina, tummy tick before and after
Terina, a patient of Dr. Dubrow’s before and after her tummy tuckE! News

How a tummy tuck is done

Tummy tucks address three layers of the abdominal wall — skin, fat and muscle. “It involves three steps. First, we do liposuction of the flanks and pubic area. Next, we make an incision across the belly to lift the abdominal wall and remove the excess skin from the belly button down. And lastly, we tighten the muscle layer. This step makes your abdominal wall flatter, but it also gives you 90% of the risk because it puts pressure on the veins in your pelvis, restricting blood flow,” Dr. Dubrow explains. 

Who is a candidate for a tummy tuck?

surgeon drawing lines on tummy before a tummy tuck
Getty Images

A study published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery showed that 4% of tummy tuck patients suffered significant complications — especially when combined with another procedure. “This is one of the most dangerous procedures we do in plastic surgery but also the most satisfying,” explains Dr. Dubrow. “It really has to be done properly and with the right patient.” According to Dr. Dubrow, you must meet several criteria before you embark on an abdominoplasty. 

1. To get a tummy tuck you need to be: Someone who’s done having children 

If you get pregnant again, gain weight and cause another separation of the abdominal wall, you essentially erase the results of the procedure. “Everything will stretch, and it won’t affect your pregnancy, but it will undo many of the things we did,” says Dr. Dubrow. “This is why we recommend this procedure for someone who’s done having children.” 

2. To get a tummy tuck you need to be: Someone who’s in overall good health 

If you have chronic health issues that affect your mobility, you may not be a good candidate for a tummy tuck, advises Dr. Dubrow. “The reason for this is post-operative care is so imperative with this procedure, and life-threatening blood clots are a risk, so the best thing you can do right after surgery is walk, walk, walk. If someone isn’t able to do this in the first place, they put themselves at risk post-operatively,” he warns. Dr. Dubrow adds that blood clots also tend to occur more often with this procedure than with other procedures. 

3. To get a tummy tuck you need to be: Someone who isn’t of an advanced age 

The older you are, the more the risks increase. Dr. Dubrow says the ideal age for someone to get a tummy tuck is 38 to 48. However, he is seeing an increase in patients over 50. “I think this is because women are adopting healthier lifestyles, living longer, staying in shape and looking better. 50 isn’t the 50 it was 30 years ago when I started,” he says. 

4. To get a tummy tuck you need to be: Someone who has a BMI of 25-27

The recent prevalence of weight loss drugs containing semaglutide (labeled as Wegovy or Zepbound) has changed the way this procedure is done. “These miracle drugs have made it a lot safer for women because I can prescribe the drug, they can lose a little weight first and get to a healthier BMI (or body mass index), and then have the procedure, and they’ll have a much better result in the long run,” he explains. “This procedure is not meant to be performed on someone who’s obese. This can lead to wound healing problems and deadly blood clots. Many doctors maximize risk by performing this on patients who should be losing weight first. The higher your BMI, the greater the risks of the tummy tuck,” he states. 

The National Institutes of Health states that a BMI of 25 or greater is considered overweight, and 30 or greater is obese. “The patient ideally should have a BMI between 25 and 27, and not over 30.” Dr. Dubrow stresses the importance of losing any weight you plan to lose before you opt for the procedure. “What happens if you have your tummy tucked and then lose 35 pounds?” he asks. “You’ll end up with a lot of loose skin and need another tummy tuck.” 

Related: Ozempic for Women Over 50? 5 Doctors Weigh In on the New Weight-Loss Injectables

5. To get a tummy tuck you need to be: Someone who’s not afraid of a scar

The standard tummy tuck involves an incision around the perimeter of the belly button so the surgeon can access the “stalk” of the belly button and reposition it once the loose skin is removed. That means you have a scar around the belly button and across your entire belly beneath the bikini line from hip to hip. 

“The huge negative that every patient needs to know at the beginning of their consult is the unavoidable scar,” he says. “If your skin doesn’t have a ton of laxity because you didn’t gain a ton of weight with pregnancy or genetically you don’t have laxity in your skin, the scar will be even more prominent. You need to ask yourself if you will be OK with this, even if your doctor downplays it.” 

That being said, many women are now turning to a slightly less risky version of the surgery known as the mini tummy tuck. While a full tummy tuck is done on a larger area of the stomach, the mini tummy tuck is only performed on the lower abdomen. “Standard tummy tucks require incisions that span from hip to hip and the creation of a new belly button. The mini tummy tuck offers a shorter, easy-to-conceal scar and the original belly button is unchanged,” explains M. Mark Mofid, MD, FACS, a plastic surgeon in San Diego and Assistant Professor of Plastic Surgery at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Related: Mini Tummy Tuck Before and Afters: The Results of This Procedure on Extra Ab Flab Can Be Dramatic

How quickly will I see results from my tummy tuck?

Unlike other procedures, which can take months to see results, the tummy tuck is instant gratification. “Patients can expect to see a good result the very next morning,” exclaims Dr. Dubrow and as evidenced in the tummy tuck before and after photos. “Visually, it’s the most transformative procedure in plastic surgery because your waist is smaller, your tummy is flatter, and you have no loose skin or love handles virtually overnight.” You’ll have swelling for 6-8 weeks, but your “after” result will be almost instantaneous. “You have a result you’ll be happy with about 20 hours after surgery,” he adds. 

And the only thing you need to do to maintain the results of your tummy tuck over time? Just don’t gain a significant amount of weight. “Because you’re removing that primary fat store during a tummy tuck, if you gain it back, you’ll gain viscerally, which is on the inside around the organs, making it even more dangerous than the fat you carried before.”  You can watch Dr. Dubrow work his magic in the 2nd half of the current season of Botched, streaming in January on Netflix.

Tummy tuck before and after photos that show results

1. 1 week post surgery


I am still moving slow but i am loving my results and the doctor gave me a big thumbs up today! #tummytuck #wlsjourney #wls #wlscommunity #tummytucktransformation

♬ Transition sound by Simplykierstin – ✰Kierstin✰
@JFlow shares her results 1 week post-op on tiktok.

2. 3 weeks post surgery

@losinggravity is thrilled with not having to worry about “loose skin getting caught in the zipper of jeans” after her tummy tuck. 

3. Tummy tuck before and after 5 weeks post surgery


Exactly 5 weeks ago today i had skin removal surgery, and even though there have been bumps in the road, i would 10000% do it again 🥹 #mommymakeoversurgery #mommymakeover #mommymakeoverjourney #skinremovalsurgery #tummytuckjourney #tummytuckbeforeandafter

♬ LOOK AT ME – sanika • skywvker

At 5 weeks post op, @michellesays says that even though there have been bumps in the road, she would 10,000% do it again!

4. 3 months post surgery

@tiffanymagee is already rocking a yellow bikini three weeks post-op, seeing almost immediate results as Dr. Dubrow has stated a patient can expect.

5. 7 months post surgery

tummy tuck before and after
Getty Images
tummy tuck before and after
Getty Images

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