Tummy Tuck Surgery (Abdominoplasty) | MedStar Health
tummy tuck

Tummy tuck surgery, also called abdominoplasty, creates a smoother, firmer abdomen for both women and men by removing excess fat and skin, and restoring weakened or separated muscles in many cases.

To perform the surgery, an incision is made just above the pubic hairline. Excess tissue is trimmed, and underlying muscles are tightened with sutures. In many cases, liposuction is performed to enhance the result. Your doctor will help you understand your options and recommend the technique to best achieve the cosmetic result you’re aiming for.

Planning and recovery

What to expect

You and your surgeon will discuss the procedure in detail so you understand how it will be performed, and you’ll have an opportunity to have your questions answered.

On the day of the procedure, you’ll receive anesthesia via IV. Your doctor will make a horizontal incision just above the pubic hairline to minimize any visual scars. The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the amount of tissue and skin to be removed. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, weakened muscles can be repaired. A second incision may be needed around the belly button to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.

Next, the skin is pulled downward, trimmed, and sutured back together, and then the incisions are closed.

Recovery after tummy tuck surgery

After the procedure, you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a support garment to help minimize swelling and support your abdomen as it heals. Small tubes may be placed under the skin to help drain excess blood or fluid. You’ll typically return home on the day of surgery with instructions from your doctor, although an overnight stay may be recommended for a more extensive procedure.

After returning home, you’ll wear your support garment and take any prescribed medications for pain and to prevent infection. Your doctor will advise you to rest during the first week, and you’ll feel soreness in your abdominal area. You may be ready to return to work or daily obligations in 2 weeks if your position is largely sedentary. It may take up to 4 weeks if your job involves lifting or other physical activities. If you have young children, you’ll need full-time care for the first few weeks after surgery. Lifting a child too soon after surgery can stretch the incision, jeopardizing results, or cause bleeding and swelling.

Our locations

Distance from Change locationEnter your location

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

3800 Reservoir Rd. NW
Washington, DC, 20007

MedStar Washington Hospital Center

110 Irving St. NW
Washington, DC 20010

MedStar Health: Plastic Surgery at McLean

6862 Elm Street
Suite 800
McLean, VA 22101


MedStar Montgomery Medical Center

18101 Prince Philip Dr.
Olney, MD 20832

MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center

7503 Surratts Rd.
Clinton, MD 20735

Frequently asked questions

  • Am I a candidate for a tummy tuck?

    You may be a good candidate if:

    • You’re physically healthy
    • You’re at a stable weight
    • Your expectations are realistic
    • You understand the risks that come along with surgery
    • You’re dissatisfied with the appearance of your abdomen

    While the results of a tummy tuck are permanent, significant changes in weight can affect your results. If you’re planning to lose weight or become pregnant, you may want to consider postponing the procedure.

  • Can a tummy tuck address stretch marks?

    While it doesn’t correct stretch marks, these may be removed or improved if they’re located on areas of excess skin that will be removed during surgery.

  • How much does a tummy tuck cost?

    • The costs for the procedure will vary based on your specific needs. Most insurance plans do not cover tummy tucks.

    • When you come in for your consultation visit, we’ll be better able to discuss fees in detail with you. Our staff will also review the financing options available.

  • Is this procedure covered by insurance?

    In most cases, tummy tuck surgery isn’t covered by insurance. However, some carriers offer partial coverage for just the removal of excess skin and fat (called a panniculectomy) when it causes recurrent skin problems or other issues. It’s always best to discuss coverage questions with your insurance carrier.

  • Do I need a referral to your office?

    If you’re exploring options for insurance coverage, you may need to request a referral from your primary care doctor, depending on your health insurance plan. Check with your carrier to see if medical coverage is an option for you and, if so, whether a referral is required.

  • What are the risks of tummy tuck surgery?

    As with any surgery, tummy tucks do pose some risks. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, risks include:

    • Anesthesia complications

    • Bleeding

    • Fat tissue death (necrosis)

    • Fluid accumulation (seroma)

    • Imperfect or asymmetrical results

    • Infection

    • Numbness or changes in skin sensation

    • Persistent pain

    • Poor wound healing

    • Poor scarring

    • Possibility of revision surgery

    • Skin loss, discoloration, or looseness

  • How should I prepare for surgery?

    • Before surgery, you may be asked to get blood tests and take or adjust medications. If you smoke, quitting will help you heal faster and better avoid complications.

    • You’ll also need to arrange for transportation to and from the surgery and for someone to stay with you the night after the surgery.

    For more information visit Patient Resources

    or Preparing for Surgery.