Has Tummy Tuck Procedures Changed in the Past 8 Years?

I'm scheduled for a TT next week and spoke to someone today who said it was extremely painful. She was 53 years old and had it done about 8 years ago. Just wondering if anything has changed in terms of procedures that make it better today than it was before. Thanks!

Doctor Answers 12

Pain is very subjective and difficult to quantify

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In general, tummy tuck surgery has not changed much in the last ten years.  I have found it interesting how widely different patients experience "the same" surgery.  The variation in the experience of pain seems to be true, whether one is discussing cosmetic vs. reconstructive procedures, procedures on the face, the breast or the torso, etc..  Although most patients have a moderate amount of pain in the first two or three days,  I have found that many are using few narcotics after this time and get good relief with medicines like ibuprofen.  Your experience will be your own and is not necessarily what others have experienced.  Best wishes.

Albuquerque Plastic Surgeon

Has Tummy Tuck Procedures Changed in the Past 8 Years?

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 Thank you for the question. Good pain control after tummy tuck is very important for many reasons. Besides the important concern of patient comfort, good pain control allows for better/easier deep breathing exercises and ambulation. These measures may lead to decreased incidences of pulmonary complications and/or thromboembolic phenomenon.
These days plastic surgeons have many options when it comes to pain control after tummy tuck surgery. The use of narcotic medication, muscle relaxants, non-narcotics, pain control pumps, and long-lasting local anesthetics have made the postoperative experience much better than in the past. The specific medications used will vary from one practice to another.
In our practice, all patients undergoing, tummy tuck surgery receive a postoperative pain control pump. I have yet to have a patient complain of the "hassle" factor. In my opinion, there is no demonstrable difference between the use of local anesthesia provided through a pain pump versus long lasting injectable anesthetics. There are certainly no objective studies that demonstrate the superiority of one over the other. Best wishes.

Have tummy tucks changed in the last 10 years: yes!!!

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10 years ago, there were basically mini tummy tucks and full tummy tucks, and nothing in between.

The issue is that many fit ladies who have loose deep fascia don't want a high hip to hip incision.  Now, they don't necessarily need one.

Now, there are at least 3 procedures in between a full and a mini tuck.

The Hybrid abdominoplasty is a short incision tummy tuck that tightens the deep fascia all the way to the breast bone.  Any woman who has kids will tell you the bulge doesn't stop at the belly button, so the tightening shouldn't either.

Then, for ladies who need slightly more skin removed, the Hybrid abdominoplasty, extended.

For patients who want an incision shorter and lower than a full tummy tuck would offer, and have loose skin in the upper abdomen, a modified full abdominoplasty is available with a small vertical incision and a lower, shorter main incision.

And the full tummy tuck when the 'big guns' are needed.

Pain pumps and tissue glues have also revolutionized the recovery process, reducing or eliminating the need for drains.

So yes, many new developments in the field of tummy tucks.

Talk to your board certified ASAPS surgeon about some of these options.

Brent Moelleken, MD
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 194 reviews

Exparel to reduce discomfort after tummy tuck

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The main thing that has changed with tummy tucks is how we manage pain after surgery. Exparel is a long-acting numbing agent that is placed into the surgical site, reducing discomfort for up to 3 days. Another way is with "pain pumps" such as the On-Q, which infuse numbing medication through a cather into the surgical site. Both of these block the pain so patients need fewer narcotic medications and are "up and around" sooner.

Richard Baxter, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 59 reviews

Tummy Tuck Pain Management

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Tummy tuck procedures have not changed a lot in 8 years. It is one of the more painful procedures that we do. The pain can be managed with narcotic pain meds. Consider a pain pump or a new medicine called Exparel if you would like some additional help with pain management. Discuss these options with your surgeon. All the best.

Has Tummy Tuck Procedures Changed in the Past 8 Years?

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There are always tweeks and modifications, but no real drastic changes in technique since your friend's surgery. 

What can be done for post op pain has improved. There are ways of delivering several  days of local anesthetic. Pain pumps that constantly infuse marcaine have been around for a while. What is new is a product called Exparel, which is a long active marcaine, injected by your surgeon as closure is about to begin. This gives some pain relief for 3 days. 

Pain is quite subjective. Each patient's experience is unique. Most experience some pain. Extremes either way are less common. All the best. 

Jourdan Gottlieb, MD
Seattle Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck

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The procedure has not changed much but our care and the little things that we do during the procedure has evolved. with my current protocol my patients are essentially painless with this procedure after the procedure.

Norman Bakshandeh, MD, FACS
New York Plastic Surgeon

Pain after Tummy Tuck

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Pain after any procedure, including a Tummy Tuck, depends on two things, the technique and the individual person's pain tolerance. Over the years a number of things in technique have changed to reduce discomfort. Most of my patients are off pain meds in a day or so, but then complain of back ache after 4-5 days until they can stand straight, about 6-8 days post op. Different people also experience pain differently. Even if I do the same procedure on two people, each may describe the pain completely differently. Therefore, discuss your tolerance for pain with your surgeon so proper arrangements for treating it can be made.

Robert T. Buchanan, MD
Highlands Plastic Surgeon

My tummy tucks have changed in the past 10 years

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I am always looking for safe ways to improve my tummy tucks.  The tummy tuck that I do today is different then what I did 10 years ago.  Today, I do a lipoabdominoplasty.  This involves safely liposuctioning the upper abdomen with VASER.  There technical things that I do now  that have really decreased post operative seromas.  Plus my belly buttons have really improved over the years.  My abdominoplasty (or tummy tuck) results are far better than 10 years ago.!

Pain after tummy tuck: have the techniques improved?

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Yes! Techniques have improved considerably.  Tummy tuck has become a much more frequently performed procedure, and there are a number of technical details that have reduced pain and accelerated recovery in my hands.  Some surgeons have used a pain pump or Exparel, a long lasting anesthetic placed at time of surgery, but in my hands increased attention to preserving nerves, limiting cautery, and efforts to reduce stitches passing through muscle when correcting the rectus diastasis ( muscle separation) have been very  effective in accelerating recovery and reducing pain.

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.