Are the Ab Muscles Cut and Removed During a Tummy Tuck - or Simply Stitched Together?

I was curious during the process of a tummy tuck, do you actually cut and remove part of the abdominal muscles or just the skin on top?

Doctor Answers 13

Tummy Tuck Procedure?

Thank you for the question.

One of the steps of a tummy tuck procedure involves reapproximation (plication)  of the rectus muscles. These muscles are not “cut”.  These muscles have spread apart during pregnancy and/or weight gain. Bringing them together again in the midline helps to “tighten” the abdominal wall as well as to narrow the waistline.

I use a two layered technique to reapproximate the rectus muscles. The first layer is comprised of interrupted “figure of 8” permanent sutures;  a second layer involves a “running” permanent suture line. Some judgment is required to re-approximating muscle's at the right tension (tight enough but not too tight). The tightening of the muscles extend from the lower border of the sternum (xiphoid  process)  to the pubic bone.

Occasionally, plication  of the external oblique muscles on each side may be helpful in achieving an improved abdominal wall contour.

After the muscle plication  is completed the  “excess” overlying  skin and adipose tissue is excised.

I hope this helps.

San Diego Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1,488 reviews

Muscles are not routinely cut or removed during tummy tuck

Thank you for your question. Typically, the separated muscles, diastasis recti, are sutured together during tummy tuck. They are not cut or removed. The medical term for this is abdominal plication. I hope this helps.

J. Jason Wendel, MD, FACS
Nashville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 182 reviews

No Cut Muscles

During an abdomnioplasty, muscles which have separated from pregnancy or weight gain are sutures together.  The suturing brings the muscles together, creating an internal corset, which narrows the waist and flattens the appearance of the abdominal bulge.

M. Mark Mofid, MD
La Jolla Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 36 reviews

How are abdominal muscles tightened during a Tummy Tuck ...

When a patient undergoes Abdominoplasty the surgeon will lift the skin to expose the abdominal muscles.  At that time your surgeon will examine the muscles to see the degree of tightening needed.  The muscles are not cut.  Instead, using special suturing techniques the muscles are tightened by plicating them together.  Excess skin will then be excised and resutured to leave you with a flatter abdomen.  I would make an appointment with a board certified plastic surgeon to see if you are a candidate for abdominoplasty.

Shain A. Cuber, MD
Edison Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 83 reviews

Abdominal muscles are NOT cut, only sutured together during TT.

Rest assured no muscles are cut or removed during a TT..  From either weight gain or pregnancies, the abdominal wall muscles get spread apart, so the abdomen bulges forward in spite of lots of toning excercises for the tummy.  During a TT, the edges of the muscles are sutured together, to where they should be normally, so the foundation of the abdominal wall is tight, flat and smooth.  The excess skin of the abdomen can now be pulled over this flat foundation and results in an improved abdominal contour.

Jeffrey M. Darrow, MD
Boston Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 98 reviews

R Ab Muscles Cut & Removed During a Tummy Tuck - or Stitched Together?

We do not cut and sew the muscles but rather tighten the covering on top of them with stitches. It is that covering or fascia that gets stretched out with pregnancy or weight gain and is why all the sit-ups in the world don't help. The muscles can get stronger with exercise but the fascia can't be tightened!

John J. Corey, MD
Phoenix Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Tummy Tuck and abdominal muscle treatment

In a tummy tuck the abdominal muscles are not cut or removed;  instead, the the connective tissue between the two main abdominal muscles (Rectus Abdominus Muscles) is plicated or oversewn, bringing the two muscles closer together.  this is done in a fashion similar to thightening up a corsette or shoelace.  Along with this, the connective tissue in the up and/or lower lateral abdomen can be plicated.  I this way the waist is narrowed without cutting or removing the abdominal muscles.

Vincent D. Lepore, MD
San Jose Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Rectus muscles are not cut in a tummy tuck

As part of the tummy tuck, the paired rectus abdominis muscles which have separated apart are sutured together, thereby flattening the abdominal and tightening the muscle layer in general. The muscles are not cut. Skin and the associated fat is cut and removed as part of the tummy tuck.

Steven Turkeltaub, MD
Scottsdale Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 30 reviews

Are abdominal muscles cut during a tummy tuck?

Thank you for your question.  No abdominal muscles are cut nor removed during a tummy tuck procedure.    Excessive weight gain or pregnancy causes the abdominal muscles to spread apart. This spreading apart of the muscles causes the abdomen to sag or protrude outward. During a tummy tuck surgery these muscles or rather the covering over the muscles are sutured together in multiple layers.  You can think of this as an internal corset.  The excessive fat and skin between the pubis and belly button is then removed and the skin is pulled down and sutured to the lower abdomen so as to create a very nice tight tummy. 

Donald M. Brown, MD (retired)
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 8 reviews

Are the Ab Muscles Cut and Removed During a Tummy Tuck - or Simply Stitched Together?

Dear LGMtnMom,

A tummy tuck is an excellent way to remove extra skin from your belly and to tighten your abdomen.

During the procedure, an opening is made along the bikini line, the extra skin is lifted and removed, and the abdominal wall muscles (which are often stretched and separated from having kids) are tightened using sutures. The abdominal muscles are left intact and are not cut.

I hope this helps.

Warmest wishes,

Larry Fan, MD 

Larry Fan, MD
San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 14 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.