How Do I Know Which Tummy Tuck Doctor is Good for Me?

I am ready for a tummy tuck. I have 2 kids and lost a lot of weight (85pounds). I have two good doctors that I have narrowed it down to. How do I know who to pick? I’m scared to do it. Also if I’m an occasional smoker and have stopped smoking for over a month now. Does that carry a risk for me?

Doctor Answers 16

Tummy tuck surgeon

Your first step is to find several board certified plastic surgeons to interview.

You may want to examine their credentials, schools, residencies, hospital affiliations, list of publications, level of accreditation of the surgery center, credentials of the person administering anesthesia to you.

During the consultation, you may want to establsih a rapport with the doctor and feel welcome in his or her office, and at ease with his staff.

When you meet the doctors, you will probably hear a number of plans for your surgery. The plan should be simple, understandable, and tailored to your special anatomy and needs.

Many surgeons send their patients to Aftercare. Does your doctor propose this as well?

Even a single cigarette can result in seeing a large dead, black piece of skin on your abdomen the next day, so there is absolutely no smoking after tummy tuck surgery usually for a period of six weeks. Most doctors will insist on from two to four weeks of no smoking before the surgery as well, since smoking greatly increases the chance of complications.

Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 178 reviews

Ask everyone who might know

You can never ask enough people. I would ask people who are familar with Doctors in your area; Primary care doctors (ask them who they would send their spouse to), nurses are a great source, and many of them have had plastic surgery. Ask people at the Hair dresser, Dentists, aestheticians, Gynecologists, General surgeons and their staff.

Make sure the doctors you are considering are certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, members of the American Society of Plastic Surgery, and members of the American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery.

Robert M. Jensen, MD
Medford Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 42 reviews

Smoking can harm the circulation in the skin edges of a tummy tuck.

Regarding your smoking, guidelines are from 4-6 weeks of abstinence. By the time you have surgery, your cessation should be well within the safe period for an abdominoplasty surgery.

As to which surgeon, rapport is very important, since these operations do have an incidence of problems. Being able to discuss these with your surgeon comfortably when these unexpected outcomes occur makes your pre-operative impression of your surgeon an important parameter in choosing between the two.

Finally, speaking to one of his patients who has had abdominoplasty and seeing before and after photos of patients he has operated upon are also helpful in guiding your choice.

Hope everything goes well for you!

David N. Hing, MD
Ann Arbor Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Best to start with American Board of Plastic Surgery certification

Probably before you attend your first consultation for cosmetic plastic surgery, you should already know if your surgeon is certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and is in good standing with a reputable hospital in your area. With the development of private cosmetic surgical facilities, which are often office-based, some surgeons have lost relationships with their local hospitals. Hospitals, however, have a very important credentialing role and will track complaints, continuing education, and maintenance of surgical skills. You should use a surgeon who has privledges to perform the same procedure you request at a local hospital of good quality.

Next, make sure you are comfortable with the surgeon and his office staff. Remember, that if you have concerns, or develop a problem after surgery you will have to rely on them to see you through. If the office seems too busy to answer all your questions and concerns before your procedure, they may be harder to reach when things go wrong. Find a relationship you can fully trust.

Smoking poses a risk to you and all those around you. I am so glad that you quit. Healing risks may still be higher, though only slightly so, at this point. Don't give in to the urges. A clean recovery after Tummy Tuck should motivate anyone.

Best of luck.

Peter E. Johnson, MD
Chicago Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Lots to consider when choosing Tummy Tuck doctors

When considering a tummy tuck and the appropriate physician consider:

1. Doctor's skills and bedside manner - I assume your doctors have excellent skills and you have gotten a referral to them from someone you trust.In addition, you have to feel comfortable with the physician and their staff. Avoid snooty offices.

2. Tummy Tuck Techniques - especially in someone who smokes, the High Lateral Tension Abdomenoplasty (Lockwood), is an ideal procedure. Ask your physician which technique he/she uses.

3. Belly Button - perhaps the least important, but the shape of the belly button may make a difference when checking out a doctor. Look closely at the belly buttons, there shape and then decide.

Robert M. Freund, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 33 reviews

Choose the surgeon who you feel most comfortable talking to


If you have narrowed it down to two surgeons, my advice would be to choose the one you feel most comfortable talking to. Before your surgery, you want to make sure you feel comfortable with the surgeon and make sure you get all of your questions answered and concerns addressed. This will also be the case after your surgery. It sounds like you have done your research and will make a good decision. Good luck with your surgery.

David Shafer, MD
New York Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 77 reviews

See a lot of before and after pictures of the surgeon's results

To nat02,

Hi! A few other suggestions:

1) Make sure he or she is board certified.

2) Ask to speak to a patient who has had an abdominoplasty with your surgeon.

3) I think most experienced plastic surgeons now prefer a "minimal undermining" technique which is safer and permits simultaneous liposuction. You might ask the surgeon about his technique.

George J. Beraka, MD (retired)
Manhattan Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Choosing your surgeon

As long as the surgeons you are considering are well trained (being Board Certified in Plastic Surgery will assure you that they meet this criteria), and you are happy with the results they have achieved with other patients, the final decision depends on whom you feel most comfortable on a personal level. During your recovery, you will be dealing closely with your surgeon, so it is nice to have a good rapport with him or her.
The professional organizations that your surgeon(s) belong to can also assist you in deciding which to choose. Application to the societies is voluntary and displays that the surgeon has an interest in the specialization supported by the society; many (such as the ACS, ASPS, ASAPS, and ISAPS) require a review of the credentials of the surgeon by their peers in the sub-specialty prior to admission. This peer review component can help you feel more comfortable that other surgeons in the field agree your physician is qualified to perform the procedures of the sub-specialty and represent the society.
Regarding smoking: yes, it does put you at higher risk for healing problems. The longer you have abstained (before and after surgery), the better you will do. One month is the minimum I require before a tummy tuck - so you are doing well!

Michael A. Bogdan, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Do Your Research

You need to really reserach any surgeon who will operate on you, Make sure he/she is board certified by the AMERICAN BOARD of PLASTIC SURGERY is a member of the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PLASTIC SURGERY(ASPS), and it is better if they are members of the AMERICAN SOCIETY OF AESTHETIC PLASTIC SURGERY (ASAPS). Only 30% of board certified plastic surgeons belong to this meaning they achieved an additional level of membership. Surgeons who ae members of the AMERICAN BOARD OF COSMETIC SURGERY did NOT go through any residencies in plastic surgey and have taken no real board examinations. Most learn techniques through weekend courses taught by non certified plastic surgeons! The AMERCIAN BOARD OF MEDICAL SPECIALTIES (ABMS). Sanctions specialities and the cosemtic board is not sanctioned by the ABMS

Once your surgeon has cleared these criteria, you need to see many pre and post operative photos for your procedure and make sure you like what you see. Next make sure his/her office and staff are to your liking as you will spending alot of time with them. Finally, you have to have an inherent "feel" for the surgeon and make sure there are no feelings of uncertainty. If you have all of these, you have good candidates for your surgeon.

Michael S. Beckenstein, MD
Birmingham Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Trust your gut feelings about the doctor-patient relationship

Dear nat02,

Youre half way there by consulting two plastic surgeons. They both should be sertified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery-visit the ABPS website to check credentials.

The best thing is to make certain that you have comfortable "gut feelings' when in the office and with the staff and the doctor.

1. Are you treated respectfully?

2. Will you be comfortable calling for help nights and weekends if you are in trouble?

3. Is the office and staff clean, professional and medically appropriate?

4. Ask to see pictures of patients the doctor has operated on.

5. Ask to speak to someone who has had surgery by the doctor: were they happy with how they were treated?

6. If the doctor gets uneasy when you ask these questions, go somewhere else.

Smoking increases the risk of a bad scar and possibly skin loss after tummy tuck. If you were a heavy smoker I would make you wait 3 months but 5-8 weeks is a widely used standard. However, the effect of smoking on the blood vessels can last a long time and I would make certain your circulation is good and I would do a conservative operation without extreme skin tightening.

You must abstain form any form of Nicotine for the period before surgery. Even Nicorette Gum can cause problems.

If you are scared or uncertain, wait until you feel more comfortable about your decision--you do not want to rush into plastic surgery.

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.