by Dr. Kevin Williams
Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is a type of cosmetic surgery to help firm the abdominal area. Through the removal of excess fat and skin from the lower and middle abdomen, a slimmer look can be achieved.
Tummy tucks are popular with women after pregnancy or with formerly obese individuals after major weight loss. Another important benefit of a tummy tuck is that weakened or separated muscles in the abdominal area are surgically strengthened, improving their appearance as a result.
While a tummy tuck can markedly improve the appearance of the abdomen, it should only be considered after standard exercise and weight loss efforts have failed to produce the desired results.
The cost of a tummy tuck ranges from $7,500 to as much as $18,000, depending on each patient’s unique circumstances. In general terms, the cost of an abdominoplasty includes the hospital stay, the doctor’s fee, anesthesia charges and the costs of any medical tests. Antibiotics and pain medication, along with follow-up visits to the doctor, will also require payment.
In specific terms, the cost of a tummy tuck includes three major charges: the charge for the surgeon, the charge for anesthesia, and the charge for the operating facilities. The average tummy tuck surgeon’s fee is around $5,000, according to the ASPS (American Society of Plastic Surgeons).
Anesthesia and facilities fees vary based on how long the procedure takes and where it is performed. For example, anesthesia can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,900, and the fee for the surgical facility can cost $1,200 if the tummy tuck is done in your doctor’s office versus $10,000 or more if it’s performed in a hospital with an overnight stay.
Additional fees for abdominoplasty can include preoperative tests, as well as the cost of postoperative medications and compression garments. These fees can easily top $1,000. Based on all the above estimated costs, the total cost of a tummy tuck ranges from $7,500 to $18,000.
Unless you can convince your insurance company that your tummy tuck is justified for health reasons, the procedure won’t be covered by insurance. Ask your doctor if he offers financing for cosmetic surgery or some other kind of payment plan. Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your surgeon for a lower fee.
The price of a tummy tuck will depend greatly upon the qualifications and experience of your surgeon, as well as the location of the tummy tuck clinic where the surgery is performed. Highly qualified and experienced surgeons who are board-certified are naturally in a position to charge their patients more for this procedure.
One of the main problems with a tummy tuck is that more than one procedure may be necessary to achieve a satisfactory result. This obviously increases the cost to the patient, who may not have the financial means to pay for additional surgeries.
If a tummy tuck is combined with another type of cosmetic surgery such as liposuction, this will add to the total cost of the procedure. In order to secure you as a patient, cosmetic surgeons sometimes over-promise and under-deliver, so be sure to research your doctor’s background thoroughly before proceeding. Take the time to look at tummy tuck before-and-after photos as well.
But women considering abdominoplasty should keep in mind that without a commitment to lifestyle change, the benefits of a tummy tuck may be lost. These lifestyle changes include regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight. Only in conjunction with other healthy habits can your tummy tuck become a success story.
Following your tummy tuck surgery, bandages and dressings will be placed on your incisions. You will need to wear compression garments to help reduce swelling and support your abdomen while it heals.
Your surgeon will give you detailed instructions for post-surgical care, which you must follow to the letter. It is not uncommon to experience depression following the surgery. For example, you may feel that the bruising and swelling will never go away. (Don’t worry – it will!)
You will be given pain medication and antibiotics which you must take on schedule. And be sure your sleeping position does not put stress on your abdomen.
You will be encouraged to walk around following your surgery. Walking will help to prevent potential blood clots and ease swelling during your tummy tuck recovery.
Generally speaking, it takes about six weeks to make a complete recovery. Having said that, recovery time differs from person to person. To speed up your recovery, it is vital that you follow your surgeon’s advice and suggestions.
Most patients are able to return to work within a couple of weeks following surgery. But vigorous physical activity must be avoided for at least three months after your tummy tuck procedure.
(published December 17, 2010)