Does Fat Grow Back After a Tummy Tuck?

A woman is measuring the waist of her tummy using measuring tape

Coming in for a tummy tuck at our Atlanta plastic surgery office can be a transformative experience. The procedure allows our patients to get their bodies back after weight loss or pregnancy by removing excess skin and tightening the muscles to sculpt a trimmer and firmer midsection. This can make a huge difference in restoring confidence and a positive body image. It’s important to note, though, that maintaining the results of a tummy tuck is part of the process, and several factors go into a successful, long-lasting procedure, both before and after the surgery.

Tummy Tuck Surgery

Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, is a body contouring procedure that results in a tighter midsection by using skin removal and muscle tightening techniques. Tummy tuck surgeons in Atlanta perform the procedure under general anesthesia using a small incision above the pubic hairline. This is a popular procedure among women looking to restore their stomachs after pregnancy and birth. It is also beneficial for patients experiencing loose skin and stubborn fat in their abdominal area, either as a result of weight loss or as a natural result of aging. If you have stretch marks on your abdomen from weight fluctuations or pregnancy, a tummy tuck can remove a number of stretch marks because of the excess skin that is removed. However, the procedure is unlikely to eliminate stretch marks altogether completely.

While the surgery results in a flatter, more toned stomach, it is not intended as an alternative to weight loss, and it is possible for weight gain after the procedure to lessen or even reverse the effects. Depending on your surgeon, the procedure may involve liposuction to remove stubborn deposits or pockets of fat to create a smoother, more natural shape. Dr. Deutsch at Perimeter Plastic Surgery includes liposuction of the flanks with his tummy tucks at no additional fee to ensure the best results. However, there is always the possibility that fat cells return with weight gain.

Best Candidates for Tummy Tuck

The ideal candidate for a tummy tuck surgery is someone who is at or close to their goal weight and maintains a healthy lifestyle. It is not primarily a weight-loss surgery but rather an aesthetic procedure to sculpt and contour the body to a more desirable shape. The surgery can also help people with cosmetic issues unrelated to weight. Common conditions that can be improved or corrected by a tummy tuck include hernias, sagging skin, poor posture, diastasis recti, and stretch marks.

While the surgery does target stubborn belly fat and excess skin in patients, it will not result in the loss of more than a few pounds of weight. Overweight patients or women who are planning to become pregnant should defer their surgery until after they have finished having children or lost weight. This is because if you gain weight after a tummy tuck,  you may need a follow-up procedure to restore the original results.

Variations of Tummy Tuck Surgery

The goal of a tummy tuck surgery is to shape the midsection and give the patient a flatter stomach. The surgery is very successful in this goal for patients who are of a healthy weight. Depending on your circumstances, including your current physical anatomy and overall goals, there are variations of the tummy tuck procedure to allow your doctor to help you meet those goals. First, your surgeon will determine if a “full” tummy tuck or a “mini” tummy tuck is the best option for you. The basics of the procedures are similar and both are typically performed under general anesthesia.

A full tummy tuck in Atlanta addresses sagging skin and loose muscles over the entire abdomen, while a mini tummy tuck may be a better fit for women whose loose skin, muscles, and fat deposits are predominantly below the belly button. Depending on which you think is best for you, speak with your doctor for their recommendation.

Short and Long-Term Recovery

In the short term, patients may have a brief stay in a recovery area before returning home. The most common symptoms are bruising and pain, which typically resolves after a few weeks, while some residual swelling may last longer. Because you may be using drain tubes for fluid and an abdominal binder for added support, patients should get plenty of rest and avoid heavy lifting, straining, and other strenuous physical activities in the first few weeks of recovery.

Once you have fully recovered from the surgery, it is important to resume a consistent exercise routine and maintain a healthy diet to prevent significant weight gain. Tummy tuck surgery is not intended to and cannot prevent future weight loss, and weight gain can significantly compromise the outcome. A tummy tuck is not the solution to weight loss but rather a way to sculpt and shape a body at a healthy weight. While losing weight to get the surgery is beneficial, it is also vital to the success of the procedure to keep that weight off into the future.

Gaining Weight After Tummy Tuck

Because a tummy tuck is not a weight loss surgery, gaining weight after the procedure is possible, lessening the overall effect. Even when liposuction is used in conjunction with the tummy tuck to remove fat cells, future weight gain can always generate new fat cells in similar areas. Read some different perspectives about this question. For those looking to lose weight after more traditional alternatives have failed, other cosmetic procedures exist for those purposes and are also provided by tummy tuck surgeons in Atlanta.

If you’re interested in a tummy tuck but want to learn more about the procedure and whether it’s the best fit for you, please contact us today or take our quiz to find out if you are a candidate for a tummy tuck. With over 20 years of plastic surgery experience, Dr. Deutsch and his team can help you decide which procedures are right for you to get the results you want in a caring, safe, and ethical manner. Featured in Modern Luxury magazine in 2022, our founder Dr. Mark Deutsch has been voted a Top Doctor by Castle Connolly Medical Ltd; this year marks the 7th year in a row that Dr. Deutsch has received this award.