Tummy Tuck or Exercise More?

I had a pituitary adenoma and gained weight very quickly. I have been exercising-- and am 5'6 at 220. it seems the bulk of everything is on my ab! Is it stupid to get a tuck at this weight-- or should I just continue to hit the gym?

Doctor Answers 12

Tummy tuck vs. weight loss

For a patient who has gained a great deal of weight, unquestionably it is better to get their health back through exercise and good diet, plus good medical management. Abdominal fat is particularly dangerous for diabetes and heart attacks. Even weight loss surgery may be a consideration for patients with morbid obesity.

A tummy tuck will have a poor result in a patient who then loses 60-80 pounds.

Tummy tucks are notoriously bad at flattening a tummy that has a great deal of fat inside it (intraabdominal fat).

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 119 reviews

Tummy Tuck or Exercise More?

I am sorry to hear about the problems you are experiencing. Although you will likely be a good candidate for tummy tuck surgery at some point, it is not in your best interests to proceed now.  Having the procedure performed when you are overweight, exposes you to additional risk around the time of surgery and increases your risk that additional surgery may be necessary down the line for a multitude of reasons.  Unfortunately, some of the risks (such as deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism) associated with surgery, at your current weight, can be life-threatening. 

The “ideal” patient for tummy tuck surgery is one who has completed pregnancies, is psycho socially/emotionally/financially stable, has an excellent social support system surrounding him/her, is capable of arranging enough recovery time, does not smoke and who has reached a long-term stable weight. 

At this point, I would suggest that you  seek consultation with other professionals,  other than plastic surgeons.  Physicians who specialize in weight loss, nutritionists, personal trainers, and/or bariatric surgeons are professionals to consider.  

Having said this, there are some patients who despite all efforts, are not able to reach their long-term stable weight prior to undergoing abdominal wall contouring surgery. These patients benefit from operations such as panniculectomy ( which involves excision of the lower abdominal wall skin/adipose tissues.  For these patients, the panniculectomy operation may provide the patient a “jumpstart”  both physically and mentally (as he/she works towards achieving their final weight and health goals). 

I hope this, and the attached link, helps.  

A pituitary adenoma and rapid weight gain: not the time for a tummy tuck yet

I would strongly advise you to continue your exercise program until you are closer to your ideal body weight. This is in your best interests for your overall health. AT 5'6", a female's ideal body weight is roughly 135lbs plus an allowance of 15%. You may want to seek the advice of a nutritionist.

Otto Joseph Placik, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Tummy Tuck is NOT a solution for Obesity

At 5'6 at 220 you are obese and while a Tummy Tuck MAY be done on you the results would not be ideal. The best Tummy Tuck results are obtained in women who have a BMI below 30 and whose weight has been stable for 6 months.

You mentioned having a Pituitary Adenoma. If it has not been operated on and if it happens to be Cushing's Disease, you really should postpone your surgery until your metabolic condition has been corrected.

Dr. Aldea

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 85 reviews

Tummy Tuck versus exercise

Tummy tucks are a very popular and effective way to contour the abdomen. The best candidates are patients who perform regular exercise and are on a balanced low-fat diet. Once you have established your target weight and have remained stable on that weight for 4 to 6 months is then safe to proceed with a tummy tuck. The more weight you lose before your surgery, the better your results will be.

To learn more about tummy tucks, see photos, and help you decide which one is best for you, please visit us at the link below:

Pat Pazmino, MD
Miami Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 71 reviews

Tummy Tuck not an answer for weight loss

I think that at your height and weight, you are better off hitting the gym losing some weight and then possible going for a tummy tuck.. A tummy tuck is not the answer for weight loss. It is best for removing excess skin and tightening the abdomen. You will always look better if the weight is off first.

Steven Wallach, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 22 reviews

Large volume Liposuction an option for localized fat areas

Although it is a very good idea to continue exercising and losing weight, some patients have localized area of fat in the upper abdomen and the flanks that are stuborn. In these patients, an option may be large volume liposuction of the abdomen, followed by a tummy tuck at a later date. I have had patients who with this approached went from size 26 to 14.

S. Sean Younai, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

Stabilize weight if possible, then look into surgical options


A tummy tuck works best for loose skin and loosened muscle. You should always try to stabilize your weight before surgery. The question is what is the problem - skin, fat, and/or muscle. Once you have done what you can in the gym looking at surgical options becomes reasonable.

John P. Di Saia, MD
Orange Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 reviews

Ideal weight is not always ideal or possible

In general we like to see patients near their ideal weight prior to plastic surgery procedures, in particular body contouring procedures. Having said that, there are patients that come to me saying that they have tried everything they could short of weight loss surgery, which they dont want to do, and they are stable at their current weight. In such cases, I feel that it is okay to perform body contouring procedure.

The one thing to remember is that body contouring procedures including liposuction are not used for weight loss and should not be expected to help you lose weight.

Hope that helps.

Farbod Esmailian, MD
Orange County Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 62 reviews

Liposuction for fat, Tummy Tuck for loose skin and muscles

You might need both if you're not able to achieve your desired appearance through diet and exercise. Of course, it is important for you to work closely with your endocrinologist to make certain that your hormonal issues are well controlled and that your weight has stabilized before any surgical treatments.

In order to determine the best treatment for you, provided you are a surgical candidate, you'll need to be assessed by a plastic surgeon who is experienced with body contouring. That way, he or she can tell you if you have excessive subcutaneous fat, substantial loose skin, and/or a separation of your abdominal muscles. This is important because the best treatment differs depending upon the particular problem you're having.

If you only have excessive subcutaneous fat, then liposuction is the best answer. If there is significant loose skin (with or without a separation of the abdominal muscles), then the only effective method of treatment is surgical excision using some form of tummy tuck (abdominoplasty). When you have both excess fat and skin, then a combination of a tummy tuck and liposuction may be recommended.

Rest assurred, the decision as to the best course of treatment will be a relatively straightforward decision for an experienced plastic surgeon, so go ahead and make that call for a consultation!!

Brian K. Brzowski, MD
Ogden Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 53 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.