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What Are the Downsides to a Tummy Tuck?

Posted November 30, 2023 in Body Contouring, Tummy Tuck Surgery

Are you tired of buying shapewear, flowing tunic tops, and pants that claim to “tame your tummy?” Have you tried a million workouts and diet plans to try and get rid of a sagging belly with no results? If so, it might be time to consider a tummy tuck. The good news is that you’re in good company: over 200,000 women undergo tummy tucks every year to address the excess skin and flab that results from weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and age.  

However, while it can help you achieve your ideal body, like any surgery, there are pros and cons of a tummy tuck to consider before deciding to take the plunge. Below, we discuss some of the potential downsides to tummy tuck surgery. 

Woman's abdomen wearing a white sports bra and underwear in oblique view

1. Tummy Tuck Surgery Requires an Extended Recovery Period

When you undergo tummy tuck surgery, you are committing to an extended recovery time. A tummy tuck is a significant surgery, especially if it includes muscle tightening or repair for diastasis recti. Dr. Chin offers three tummy tuck options:

Mini Tummy Tuck

For patients who only need the removal of loose skin on their lower abdomen, a mini tummy tuck will usually do the trick. The incision is the same as a full tummy tuck, but a mini tummy tuck does not include muscle repair or tightening, or an incision around your belly button. 

Modified Tummy Tuck

A modified tummy tuck is for those who require more skin removal, as well as the tightening of the lower abdominal muscles. Muscles stretch with weight gain, so tightening them will help achieve a flatter middle. 

Full Tummy Tuck

A full tummy tuck addresses several issues, including the removal of excess fat and skin, as well as tightening the abdominal muscles above and below the navel. It also typically includes abdominal muscle repair to correct a condition known as diastasis recti. Diastasis recti is when your abdominal muscles stretch and separate down the middle of your stomach. You may not even notice that it happened, but it is a common issue after pregnancy. Diastasis recti can cause weakness in your core and back pain, as well as a “pooch” on your belly that won’t respond to diet or exercise.  

Full recovery from a complete tummy tuck takes about six weeks, though most people can return to their job within 1-2 weeks. For those who get a tummy tuck with abdominal repair, during the first two weeks, you should rest and refrain from engaging your abs when you move. Walking around slowly is recommended, but no lifting, twisting, or other taxing activities. If you have childcare duties or commitments outside the home, you’ll need to take time off and make arrangements for help with household tasks. You shouldn’t drive or pick up anything heavier than about five pounds during this time. Light exercise, such as walking, can typically be resumed after about four weeks. After six weeks, you should be ready to return to more strenuous workouts.   

2. A Tummy Tuck Requires Careful Aftercare  

Like any surgical procedure, tummy tuck surgery comes with the risk of complications. While complications are rare, it is vital to be aware of the risks before undergoing surgery to determine if a tummy tuck is still right for you. Ideal candidates for a tummy tuck are non-smokers in overall good health. If you have pre-existing medical conditions, you should discuss all current and previous medical concerns with Dr. Chin during your consultation.

After your surgery, the recovery from your tummy tuck will require following your surgeon’s instructions to the letter. You will experience swelling, bruising, and soreness after your procedure, so it is essential to take the appropriate medications and allow your body time to rest. You’ll have temporary drains placed in your incisions after your surgery to lower the risk of excess fluid collecting at the surgical site (known as a hematoma). You’ll need to empty the drains periodically and keep the incision clean and protected by regularly changing the dressings. You will wear a compression garment for several weeks to help reduce swelling and keep your incision from stretching.

A tummy tuck leaves a thin scar along your lower abdomen in an easy-to-conceal area where a bikini or underwear hides the scar. The scar may seem dark and noticeable initially but will fade with time. You can improve the appearance of your scar by applying topical creams or silicone scar strips. 

3. Weight Fluctuations After Tummy Tuck Surgery Can Affect Your Results

Tummy tuck surgery results are considered permanent, provided you do your part to maintain them. Weight fluctuations can particularly impact your results. Significant gains and subsequent losses of many pounds may cause you to need tummy tuck revision surgery. Some of the ways your tummy tuck may be affected by weight gain are the same reasons you had surgery in the first place: loose skin, excess fat, and unsightly stretch marks. 

However, you shouldn’t be so concerned with your weight that you forget to enjoy your life and your newly sculpted figure. Weight gain is caused by several factors, some of which are out of your control, including:

Changes in Hormones

As you age, your hormones begin to shift. Women who enter perimenopause or menopause find it harder to lose weight, or even to prevent a slow increase in pounds. Talking with your primary care doctor about testing and management of hormones can help to stave off that later-in-life weight gain. 

Lifestyle Changes

Maybe a job change has extended your commute or given you more time behind a desk than before. Or perhaps an injury or chronic illness has affected the way you exercise. While your lifestyle change may be unavoidable, it mainly requires you to get creative with your movement and keep your food choices healthy. 


For most people, some amount of stress is a given. Work, family, and daily life can all cause stress. However, managing your stress can help you live more peacefully and keep weight gain at bay. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep is vital. Lack of sleep is shown to slow down your metabolism while causing an increase in your appetite. It also makes it harder to drag your low-energy self to the gym to exercise. 

Most patients can gain 10-15 pounds without issues before their tummy tuck results are affected. Because fat cells are removed along with skin during surgery, you may not even see a change in your waistline. But the bottom line is that being conscious and intentional about exercise and how and what you eat goes a long way towards lasting tummy tuck results and overall good health. 

Learn More About Tummy Tucks in Fresno

If you’re ready to restore your confidence and stop trying to camouflage your stomach, a tummy tuck may be the answer. To discover if you’re a good candidate for a tummy tuck, contact Valley Institute of Plastic Surgery today and schedule a consultation with Dr. Chin by calling 559-435-9646 or filling out our online contact form.