Tummy Tuck

Abdominoplasty or tummy tuck is most commonly thought of as a way to remove excess skin and smooth out a loose, stretched out belly. But abdominoplasty is more than just a superficial fix.

Tummy tuck also tightens the muscles of the belly wall, often loosened by pregnancy or weight gain*. This stretching and separation of the muscles is called rectus diastasis or diastasis recti. These muscles are key to the abdominal “core,” providing strength and stability to the entire body. Repairing the core improves appearance, but more importantly, strengthens the abdominal wall to help keep the back supported and the whole body stable and strong*.

*Individual Results May Vary

Before and After Photos

Dr. Lee’s Approach to Tummy Tucks

Dr. Lee does her tummy tuck surgeries as a “come and go” procedure. Extra loose skin is removed, smoothing out the surface of the belly wall*. Your belly button is trimmed and tightened to look more natural and youthful*. The muscle layer is also tightened, repairing the rectus diastasis and putting all your “core” muscles back into the proper position to provide good abdominal wall strength and support to your back*. Sometimes, liposuction of the belly wall is added to the tummy tuck to further sculpt the waist and midriff*.

*Individual Results May Vary

Types of Abdominoplasty

Tummy tucks come in different shapes and forms and may be referred to by different names. Some of these you may have heard are: mini tummy tuck, full tummy tuck, extended tummy tuck, high lateral tension tummy tuck, anchor tummy tuck, fleur de lis and more. For most patients, Dr. Lee will sew the separated muscles back together, repairing the rectus diastasis*.

Types of Abdominoplasty

Mini Tummy Tuck

Mini tummy tuck addresses the belly below the belly button only. A small incision is made by the pubic line, and the lower abdominal muscles are tightened and lax lower belly skin is removed to improve lower abdomen contour. This procedure is typically reserved for those who only need minimal assistance in contouring.

Full Tummy Tuck

Full tummy tuck contours everything from the breast bone to the pelvis. An incision is made around the belly button and by the pubic line, and skin and fat layers are lifted to expose the abdominal wall. Dr. Lee will suture the muscles to repair rectus diastasis, and the skin will be redraped with a new opening made for the belly button. The loose upper skin is moved down and the loose lower belly skin is removed*.

Extended Tummy Tuck

Extended tummy tuck is done with longer than the standard incisions when there is a lot of loose skin, but the technique is the same as a standard full tummy tuck. This is an ideal technique for men and women who have lost a large amount of weight and need to address a significant amount of lax skin and dog ears, or the hips and flank area as well.

Fleur De Lis Tummy Tuck

Fleur de lis incision, or anchor cut, refers to ways to take out extra large amounts of skin more common in patients with massive weight loss*. The incision looks like an anchor or inverted T, where in addition to the standard pubic line incision, an incision is made vertically. The height of this vertical midsection incision is dependent on the amount of revision required for your case*. Dr. Lee will assess this during your initial consultation.

High Lateral Tension Tummy Tuck

High lateral tension abdominoplasty combines the muscle tightening and removal of loose skin with liposuction when needed to create additional contouring of the tummy*. A traditional tummy tuck will remove some fat deposits, but not a large amount*. So patients who wish to get rid of a large amount of fat in addition to tightening their abdominal muscles and excising lax skin can benefit from this tummy tuck technique*.

*Individual Results May Vary


Once you have worked with Dr. Lee to design the best way to proceed with your tummy tuck, a call to the office will get you scheduled for your surgery at a fully accredited surgical facility. The surgery is generally done as an outpatient so you will be able to come in the morning for your procedure and go home afterward to sleep in your own bed*.

Patients usually come back to the office for their first postoperative visit the day after surgery to make sure that all of your new questions are answered.

Rest is necessary for a good recovery and most abdominoplasty patients take 2 weeks off of a desk type job*. You will need help during those 2 weeks. Plan on caring for yourself only; have someone else care for the kids, prepare food and do the laundry. Return to heavy lifting, exercising and other activities is somewhat individual and depends on how you feel over the weeks after the procedure. You will see Dr. Lee frequently enough after your surgery to make sure that your healing is going as expected and to help guide your return to your usual routine.

The best way to see what you can expect from your tummy tuck surgery is to see the photos of what Dr. Lee’s other patients have achieved*. It is important to remember though that results vary for all patients, depending on the extent of the individual case and what that patient wishes to accomplish. Check out the photo gallery below to see potential body contouring results.


Other ways to improve the appearance of a full belly may involve liposuction or CoolSculpting®. CoolSculpting® is a non-surgical process of fat reduction through freezing of fat cells*. Liposuction is a surgical process of removing fat through small incisions. This is done in the operating room. Neither of these procedures will remove extra skin, but CoolSculpting® appears to tighten skin somewhat better than liposuction*.

Fat removal procedures are typically reserved for people who only have problems with fat deposits, not significantly loose skin or abdominal muscles*. Muscle tightening repair of the rectus diastasis can only be accomplished with surgery. Very often, tummy tucks and fat removal procedures are paired together for enhanced contouring*.

Additionally, a mommy makeover can be performed for post-pregnancy women. This involves the enhancement of the tummy and breasts, with procedure options including tummy tuck, liposuction, breast augmentation, breast lift, and/or breast reduction.

Ideal Candidates

Good candidates for a tummy tuck procedure are Bay Area men and women who are in good health and close to their ideal weight, but suffer from stretched abdominal muscles and loose abdominal skin that are unresponsive to exercise or diet*.

Those who have experienced significant weight loss can benefit from a tummy tuck, but must be committed to maintaining a stable weight*.

This procedure is also popular among mothers who have given birth and wish to regain their pre-baby contour*. During pregnancy, the abdomen stretches to accommodate a growing baby. When the baby is born, skin and muscle attempt to retract to their original tautness, but in many cases the muscles can stay partially separated and lower belly skin remains loose.

Tummy tuck candidates should be done having children since pregnancy after the procedure can reverse results*. Patients should also have realistic expectations of what a tummy tuck can accomplish*. A tummy tuck can easily be paired with liposuction or CoolSculpting® for a slimmer midsection*.

A tummy tuck is specially designed to repair loose skin and muscles to create a trimmer, more defined midsection*.

*Individual Results May Vary


Tummy tuck

Your private consultation at our Lafayette location is your opportunity to learn about the best way to trim up your tummy. Dr. Elizabeth Lee and you will discuss your concerns and goals. Examination will assess the presence of rectus diastasis and the amount of loose skin that might be removed. The pros and cons of different approaches, both non-surgical and surgical will be explained so that you can make an informed decision about your options, understand what Dr. Lee recommends, and why those recommendations are being made. Alternatives and ancillary procedures that can improve results will be discussed as well after your consultation examination.

Recovery planning is key to fabulous results, and you will learn what to expect in the first weeks following surgery, how to prepare, and how much time off from work to plan.


Our goal at ArtfulSurgery is to provide you all the support you need to sail through tummy tuck surgery and recovery. We are here to answer questions. Some patients like to check in by phone, others prefer a follow-up visit in the office. When you are ready to move forward, call us or schedule a consultation online and we will work to get you on Dr. Elizabeth Lee’s operating schedule.

*Individual Results May Vary

Book Your Appointment Today!

3800 Mt Diablo Blvd #102
Lafayette, CA 94549

(925) 299-1985


How Long is the Recovery Period for Full Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tuck is a big surgery and planning for your recovery is really important. I tell patients to expect that they should be able to stand up straight at one week, return to a desk job at 2 weeks, need more sleep than usual for 6 weeks and have some swelling that improves over several months after surgery. I like to see my patients often enough that I can help guide them as they return to normal activities like exercise and work. Patients all heal differently so recovery instructions should be customized to meet your needs.

Does a Tummy Tuck Affect Future Pregnancies Besides a Scar?

Pregnancy after tummy tuck is generally not recommended but is not unsafe. In general, we as plastic surgeons do not recommend tummy tucks to patients expecting to have more pregnancies. A tummy tuck with muscle tightening is a big procedure with a big recovery. In any case, pregnancies after tummy tuck, even with muscle tightening go well. Mommy does not split open like a watermelon. As long as you know that you might stretch out and have loose skin again after pregnancy, skin removal is ok to do now, particularly if you have a loose flap of skin now after weight loss and are not planning pregnancy in the near future.

How Long Can I Expect Pain After a Tummy Tuck?

Tummy tucks are uncomfortable but pain improves quickly. Tummy tucks and patients' level of discomfort is very individual. In general though most patients take both ibuprofen and a narcotic compound such as Vicodin together immediately after surgery. It is typical that Vicodin is no longer needed after two to three days and ibuprofen is enough. Tummy tuck is a big surgery so it is important to plan enough time off work and have enough help at home, particularly if you have young children. The first days are uncomfortable but my patients are pretty happy pretty quickly.

Is Muscle Repair Standard With a Tummy Tuck?

Muscle repair is often part of a tummy tuck. While it is impossible to say that absolutely every tummy tuck requires or includes a repair of the separated rectus muscles, in general, the pregnancy that stretches out skin, also stretches the muscle layer causing rectus diastasis. When diastasis is present, it should be repaired. In our office, the entire procedure is explained during the consultation and repair of the muscle as well as belly button location, location of the scar, need for liposuction, etc are all discussed.

Can Tummy Tuck Scar Tissue Cause Bowel Obstructions?

Tummy tuck does not increase your risk of bowel obstruction. Tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a surgery done just below the skin and fat of you belly wall. It is pretty superficial. We are several layers outside the peritoneum (where all your intestines are). So there will be no scarring to cause a bowel obstruction.

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