Will Low Body Fat Make a Tummy Tuck Easier?

I am considering getting a tummy tuck, but I am concerned about the lengthy and painful recovery. My problem is not a belly bulge or loose abdominal muscles. I simply have excess, sagging skin left over from two 9 lb babies. My stomach is flat, I have low body fat, and I'm at my ideal weight. I just hate the unsightly sagging skin.

Will the fact that I don't require extensive fat removal or muscle repair make my tummy tuck surgery less extensive? I don't think I am a candidate for a mini tummy tuck because I have sagging above the belly button as well as below. What do you think? Thanks!!

Doctor Answers 14

People who are fit, and close to their ideal weight, seem to bounce back more quickly.

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The closer you are to your ideal weight, and the lower your body fat is, the better the results of a tummy tuck. This is the good news. Will the recovery be easier? That’s sort of a yes and no.

Most women, after children, will need some degree of muscle work to achieve the results they want. This is the only way to repair abdominal muscles that are stretched during pregnancy. Unfortunately, no amount of crunches can fix these muscles.

Abdominal muscle work does add to the recovery. If you think about it, the muscles that are being repaired are your core muscles, the ones you use for sitting and that support you while you stand and walk.

However, people who are fit, and close to their ideal weight, seem to bounce back more quickly. How quickly will depend upon the individual and the way in which the operation is performed.

But the bottom line here is that the results of the operation are better, the closer you are to your appropriate weight. So in the long run, managing your weight appropriately will benefit you. And, you will see the results of this surgery sooner.

Knoxville Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 111 reviews

You sound like a GREAT candidate for a tummy tuck

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Based on your description, you would do very well with a properly performed full tummy tuck. There is no other way you can get rid of that extra skin. Being in excellent shape makes the recovery easier and the surgery safer. If you have a positive outlook on life and are a calm, not anxious, person you will find the recovery much easier than you would think. It is a consistent truth that the rate at which a patient recovers from surgery is intimately related to their personality. So, if you are motivated to have it done, go for it!

Tummy Tuck: Not as Hard as You Think

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For patients with minimal body and abdominal fat, with no muscle laxity, who are concerned primarily with excess loose abdominal skin after pregnancy, Tummy Tuck is a fantastic operation.

No amount of exercise will correct the stretched, lax skin around the central abdomen that is the result of multiple pregnancies. For patients with extensive loose skin both above and below the belly button, a full abdominoplasty is generally necessary, since a "mini" abdominoplasty only addresses the laxity of skin below the belly button and above the pubic area.

The Tummy Tuck procedure is not as painful as you fear. If there is no Diastasis Recti (separation of the abdominal muscles) and no muscle laxity, no muscle tightening is needed and the operation involves skin tightening only. The majority of my patients do require some muscle tightening, in some cases just below the belly button to the pubis, or in others the entire length of the abdomen from the ribs to the pubis.

Although the muscle tightening may result in somewhat greater post-operative pain, the pain is generally easily managed with mild to moderate potency oral pain medications, and generally lasts only 2-3 days. The potential pain can be minimized further by use of a "pain pump", which releases a low and steady dose of local anesthesia into the surgical area over the first few days after surgery.

Patients will have suction drains placed under the skin, and will wear a compression garment or binder, to avoid seroma or fluid accumulation under the abdominal skin. Drains are removed usually within 7-10 days, and most patients are back to full unlimited activities within 4-6 weeks.

Fit and trim patients are generally ideal surgical candidates, and this is particularly true for Tummy Tuck. Such patients generally recover faster with fewer complications. So, conquer your fear, and lose the excess skin that prevents you from fully revealing the hard body below.

Athleo Louis Cambre, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Abdominoplasty with low body fat

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The most painfull part of the Tummy Tuck is the muscle repair. Skin and fat removal is not as painful.

During the examination will examine your skin, fat ditribution, and muscle laxity, then all options are presented to you.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

You are a great candidate for tummy tuck

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You sound very informed about the procedure. You seem to be a great candidate for tummy tuck, since you have minimal fat, intact abdominal muscles and loose skin. Your recovery should be smoother if you do not require repair of the underlying muscle fascia. Additionally, since you have loose skin above your belly button, you will require a full abdominoplasty for the best result. For patients with loose abdominal muscles and/or extra fat, abdominoplasty is still an option. They will just require concomitant plication (muscle fascia repair) and/or liposuction, respectively.

I hope this helps.

Sounds like you are an excellent tummy tuck candidate

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Many of the best results occur in patients just like you. Many times their recovery is easier because you come into the operation in great shape. Even though it just seems like extra skin almost all women who have had babies(and especially with 9 lb babies x2) can benefit from tightening the rectus muscles-essentially putting them back where they were prior to pregnancy.

Many surgeons now use a pain pump(there are many brands, I like the On-Q) that deliver a low constant infusion of a local anesthetic(eg lidocaine) to the area of the muscle work. This device has made this operation much more tolerable and releives a majority of the discomfort from the procedure.

I agree with your thoughts if you have excess skin above the belly button, you will likely require a full/traditional abdominoplasty.

John E. Gross, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon

Some Tummy Tucks are easier than others

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I agree with your analysis and think by your description you seem to be an excellent candidate for a tummy tuck and should get a great result. You are right, the more you are in ideal shape and appropriate weight on average the better the result and faster the healing period and less involved the surgery. To make the initial few days easier, I would consider using Exparel, a long acting local anesthetic your surgeon can use which eliminates the need for a pain pump such as the  On-Q device.


Low body fat for an easier tummy tuck

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Sounds like you are a GREAT candidate for an Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck). The less fat you have (BMI of 23 to 27), the healthier you are, stable weight and if you are done having children your results should be fantastic.

Having had 2 nine pounders virtually guarantees that your stomach (Rectus) muscles have been permanently separated (Diastasis Recti). There is NO EXERCISE on the face of this earth which will bring them together.

But a well performed Tummy Tuck will not only bring the muscles together, it will flatten the tummy, narrow your waist, remove your loose "unsightly sagging skin" of the lower tummy, discretely lift a sagging Mons pubis, and depending on the Tummy Tuck technique can mildly lift your thighs and smooth cellulite (High Lateral Tension Abdominoplasty).

Do NOT be "concerned about the lengthy and painful recovery". It need NOT be SO.

Good Luck.


Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck with little abdominal fat.

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Hard to tell without photos.  It sounds like you are a very good candidate for the operation.  Usually a full tummy tuck is needed if you have excess skin above the belly button.  best to speak with a board certified plastic surgeon.

Jeffrey J. Roth, MD, FACS
Las Vegas Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Mini tummy tuck plus Laser Liposuction above the bely button can help loose tummy skin

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I need to see photos of your abdomen. However, if you have a lot of loose skin above your belly button then a full abdominoplasty will be required to get rid of your loose skin.

However, if most of your loose skin is bellow the belly button and only minimal loose skin is above your belly button, then a combination of a mini tummy tuck and laser assisted liposuction such as SlimLipo or Smart;lipo above the belly button may work very well.

See before and after pictures of this technique for a better idea.

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.