Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

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A “tummy tuck” (abdominoplasty) improves the shape and function of your abdominal wall. It may be a surgical option if you have excess or loose skin and fat deposits in your abdominal area following weight loss, pregnancy, or previous abdominal surgeries.

A panniculectomy is a less extensive version of an abdominoplasty. It removes excess skin below the belly button area.

Duke plastic surgeons remove the excess skin and fat and tighten the fascia, the layer of tissue that holds your abdominal muscles in place. We help you achieve an attractive, flat, contoured abdomen.

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What to Know When Considering a Tummy Tuck

If you are in good health and you are concerned about your abdomen's appearance and function, a tummy tuck may be for you.

You May Wait to Finish Childbearing
Because pregnancy can cause the abdominal wall and muscles to separate and bulge, it may be advisable to pursue a tummy tuck after you have completed your family planning. However, a tummy tuck may be considered sooner under certain circumstances, such as following significant weight loss at a young age.

Tummy Tuck Is not Weight Loss Surgery
You should not pursue a tummy tuck while you are actively in the process of losing weight. A tummy tuck enhances your appearance following all your attempts to lose weight when excess fat and tissue remains.

You Will Have a Scar
A tummy tuck will result in a cosmetically pleasing scar that will be strategically placed under your bikini or underwear line. Occasionally, a vertical component scar will result from abdominoplasty surgery. During the tummy tuck procedure, your surgeon may also be able to improve the appearance of previous scars such as scars from C-sections or other abdominal surgeries. 

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Tummy Tuck Procedures

Your surgeon will discuss which option is right for you.

Complete Abdominoplasty

During this procedure, your surgeon will make an incision from hip bone to hip bone. Skin, tissue, and muscle that encompass the entire stomach area -- from the rib cage to the belly below your navel -- will be tightened and shaped around your belly button, which will remain in place.

Mini or Partial Abdominoplasty

This procedure focuses on removing excess skin and fat and reshaping the area below your navel only.

Additional Procedures at the Same Time

If needed, your doctor may choose to perform additional procedures, such as liposuction to remove fat from around the hips (also referred to as “flanks”). A lower body lift may be performed to remove excess skin and fat from the outer thighs and buttocks. 


A panniculectomy may be performed after significant weight loss (typically following weight loss surgery) that resulted in an excessive amount of fat and tissue in the lower abdomen. This procedure is usually performed for non-cosmetic (medical) reasons.

Our Locations

Duke Health offers locations throughout the Triangle. Find one near you.

Tummy Tuck Process

Initial Consultation Appointment
An initial visit with your plastic surgeon may take place via telehealth or in person. Your surgeon will review your medical history including previous surgeries, medications you are taking, conditions that put you at risk for surgery, and previous pregnancies. During an additional in-person visit, your plastic surgeon will examine your physical anatomy, discuss your goals, and determine whether a tummy tuck will give you the results you seek. Alternatively, your surgeon may recommend you lose more weight, quit smoking for a period of time, or discontinue medication before surgery to ensure you experience the best possible outcome.

Understanding the Risks
A tummy tuck carries the same risks as any other standard surgery. These include the risk of bleeding and blood clots, infection, and risks associated with anesthesia. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you as you consider your options.

Tummy Tuck Procedure Cost
An abdominoplasty may be covered by insurance if it is performed for a medical reason. Insurance does not cover procedures performed for purely cosmetic reasons. Our financial counselor will discuss this with you and provide an estimate to help you determine if this is the right approach for you.

Consistently Ranked Among the Nation’s Best Hospitals

Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2023–2024.

Presurgical Testing
Once your surgery has been scheduled, you will meet with an anesthesia specialist to ensure you are in good health. Depending on your health, you may be scheduled for pre-surgical testing that can include blood work, an EKG or other tests to ensure you are healthy and ready for surgery.

On the Day of Surgery
A complete abdominoplasty typically takes up to three to four hours while a mini-abdominoplasty can take about one to two hours. Both are usually out-patient procedure, meaning you will go home the same day. In some cases, you may stay overnight for observation.

Your Recovery
Pain and swelling in your abdomen will last several days. It is common to see some bruising and feel sore in the area. You may want to take one or two weeks off from work to recuperate. Your doctor will recommend you avoid major physical activity and heavy lifting for up to six weeks. Your doctor will see you for a post-op visit following your surgery to examine your wound and ensure you are healing in a timely fashion.

This page was medically reviewed on 03/20/2023 by