Joshua Cooper, MD, FACS

Tummy Tuck


Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck operation, also knows as an abdominoplasty, offers patients dramatic results. The operation will flatten and contour your abdomen by removing excess fat and skin. During the procedure, your abdominal muscles will also tightened, leading to a more sculpted and defined look.

Candidates for a Tummy Tuck

After childbirth, some women simply cannot get rid of their "mommy belly" no matter how many sit-ups they perform. During pregnancy a natural separation of the abdominal wall musculature may occur and no matter how much these muscles are strengthened, the lower abdominal fullness or "pooch" will never go away.

In addition to lower abdominal fullness, extra abdominal skin laxity can be bothersome as well. Some women can lose a significant amount of weight and are left with sagging skin often accompanied by stretch marks. Some women may have never had a flat belly and wish to have a slimmer, more youthful appearing contour.

Personalized Treatment to Optimize Cosmetic Results

During the pre-operative office consultation, Dr. Cooper will take special time to listen to your concerns and answer your questions. He'll examine you and make personalized recommendations designed to fit your unique goals.

The Procedure

The tummy tuck operation is an outpatient procedure. Under the direction of board-certified anesthesiologists you will have either a general anesthetic or an epidural with intravenous sedation depending on your preference. The operation typically takes 3 hours. An abdominal incision is made and is kept very low so that it will be hidden by a bathing suit or underwear.

Next, the skin is elevated off of the abdominal wall,  an incision is made around the navel ("umbilicus"), and the abdominal muscles are tightened together with sutures.  Drains are left at the time of the operation to prevent the buildup of fluid. Excess skin and fat are removed, the navel is sutured back in its proper position, and the incision is closed with absorbable sutures.



Mini Tummy Tuck

A "mini tummy tuck" is similar to the traditional tummy tuck procedure, however it involves a shorter incision and the skin is only lifted up to the navel. This procedure is ideal for a select subset of patients who need only improvement in the lower portion of the abdomen in order to reach their desired results.


Walking is encouraged after the tummy tuck operation and heavy lifting is discouraged for at least 6 weeks.  Moderate abdominal discomfort and tightness are to be expected. You will be prescribed medication to help control unnecessary pain.  After the operation, you will wear an abdominal compression garment and you may shower the day after your procedure. Several days later, Dr. Cooper will remove your drains.


A tummy tuck leaves patients with a flatter, toned, and more youthful appearing abdomen.  It may also improve confidence, helping patients look and feel slimmer. The results of this procedure are visible right away and will continue to improve as swelling subsides. Scars fade considerably over time.

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Although complications are uncommon, they include infections, bleeding, fluid collections, delayed healing and, though rare, blood clots in the legs or lungs. Dr. Cooper will review all the risks and benefits with you prior to your procedure and discuss the ways that these risks can be minimized.  Dr. Cooper prescribes Lovenox (a blood thinner) for all of his tummy tuck patients.  Patients take this after their operation to prevent blood clots in the legs.  Walking around, which you will be doing as soon as you get home from your operation, also prevents blood clots in the legs. 

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Common Questions Patients Have Asked Dr. Cooper About Tummy Tucks 

What If I Get Pregnant After a Tummy Tuck?

  • Becoming pregnant after a tummy tuck is fine, but you can expect that the pregnancy will likely stretch out the muscle repair that was performed during the tummy tuck, and you may end up with some excess skin as well.
  • If that occurs, you may desire another tummy tuck down the road to tighten everything up again.  Alternatively, your abdomen may “bounce back” just fine after your pregnancy.
  • Lastly, it is not dangerous to become pregnant after a tummy tuck. 

When Will I Walk Straight Again after my Tummy Tuck?

  • Very commonly my patients are walking "hunched over" for a week or so after their tummy tucks.  
  • After the muscle tightening and excision of skin that are part of the tummy tuck operation, your body will naturally protect itself by not allowing you to stand completely erect.
  • This helps protect the surgical closure as well as the muscle repair.
  • Rest assured that you will walk upright once again!  Sometimes this can take a couple weeks or even longer, so try not to worry if at first your posture is affected!

Should I Lose Weight Before My Tummy Tuck?

  • Losing weight before your tummy tuck is a great idea if you are overweight!
  • The closer you are to your ideal body weight at the time of a tummy tuck, the better your results will be. 

Is It Okay if I'm Smoking Cigarettes Before My Tummy Tuck?

  • I do not perform tummy tuck on patients who have smoked cigarettes within 1 month of their operation.
  • I highly recommend quitting smoking completely before the operation. 
  • Smoking can cause serious issues with healing of the skin as well as the umbilicus (belly button). 
  • I know that quitting smoking is not easy, but there are so many benefits of not smoking in addition to better healing after your tummy tuck. 

Do I Need to Have My Muscles Repaired at the Time of My Tummy Tuck?

  • I find that it is the rare tummy tuck patient who would not benefit from muscle plication during their operation.  (Plication is the surgical term for tightening up the muscles.)
  • There are not many downsides to having the stretched or separated muscles tightened up at the time of your tummy tuck.  Pain may be a bit more, but with a long acting local anesthetic injected around the muscle such as Exparel, this pain is lessened. 
  • Muscle plication will provide a flatter abdominal appearance and may allow us to remove more skin as well.

Why Will I be Prescribed Lovenox after My Tummy Tuck?

  • Some plastic surgeons, such as my partner and I, routinely prescribe once daily Lovenox injections for 1 week to our abdominoplasty patients to help prevent blood clots post-operatively. 
  • Lovenox "thins" the blood and helps prevent blood clots (deep vein thrombosis) in the legs/thighs.  These blood clots can travel to the lung (pulmonary embolism) and may cause major respiratory problems (and even death.)
  • Patients undergoing the abdominoplasty procedure are at increased risk, although still very uncommon, of developing blood clots after the procedure, so all plastic surgeons use special leg "squeezers" during the procedure to help prevent these clots.  Early ambulation after the abdominoplasty can also help prevent these blood clots. 
  • Lovenox could occasionally cause bleeding, but bleeding we can deal with, whereas a pulmonary embolism sometimes can be fatal.  Therefore, we prescribe Lovenox to all of our patients.  And we have not seen an increase in bleeding or hematoma rates.