What Is a Tummy Tuck?

Maybe you’ve heard the procedure called an abdominoplasty, or maybe you’ve heard the term “tummy tuck,” but aren’t quite sure what it means? Does the surgeon just tuck up your skin, sew it together, and call it a day? Not quite.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons defines a tummy tuck as such: “Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, removes excess fat and skin and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles, creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer.” Usually, the patient will be put under anesthesia, and the surgeon will make a horizontally-oriented incision between the pubic hairline and belly button. The abdominal skin will be pulled down, excess skin will be trimmed, and a new opening for the belly button will be created and sutured into position. Even people with a relatively normal body weight might want a tummy tuck, thanks to aging, pregnancy, prior surgeries, or significant fluctuations in weight that have caused an abundance of skin around the midsection.

So, why not just exercise to get rid of the skin? In some cases, a tummy tuck is absolutely necessary. As Minneapolis tummy tuck experts at Minneapolis Plastic Surgery explain, “if you have loose, wrinkled, or sagging abdominal skin, no amount of exercise will restore the lost elasticity and collagen content in that stretched skin. The same goes for the stretched abdominal wall fascia (diastasis recti)- sit-ups and crunches can give you abs of steel, but they will still be separated from each other by the stretched fascia that gives you an abdominal ‘pouch.’”

Can a Tummy Tuck Be Non-Surgical?

For a long time, it’s been taken for granted that a tummy tuck may very well be the only option for some women who aren’t happy with their midsections. So, when Kim Kardashian posted a video in early August while she was at a surgeon’s office with the hashtag “non-surgical tummy tuck,” the world was in awe. Is that even possible? How can a tummy tuck be non-surgical? And most interestingly, is it “cheating” to have a non-surgical tummy tuck?

As it turns out, Kardashian’s “tummy tuck” wasn’t necessarily a tummy tuck, but was a skin-tightening procedure performed by Dr. Ourian of Beverly Hills, a plastic surgeon known for his work on other celebrities, such as Iggy Azalea. The skin-tightening isn’t invasive, and it is non-surgical, since it’s simply a laser which heats the collagen layer of the skin until it contracts. As the skin contracts, it results in tighter, toned skin that has been more sufficiently filled out with collagen. The procedure doesn’t remove excess skin like a tummy tuck would, which also means less downtime: “The recovery time is nominal, and you can go back to your regular activities shortly after you have the procedure done.”

So, while it might not be exactly accurate to call this procedure a non-surgical tummy tuck, it does indeed have some of the same effects of a tummy tuck (tightening, smoother skin, firmer midsection). Consultant Plastic Surgeon Mark Soldin tells Yahoo Beauty that in fact, skin-tightening is just one of the many ways to have a non-surgical “tummy tuck”: “A ‘non-surgical tummy’ tuck is a marketing phrase,” Mr. Soldin said. “This encompasses a variety of treatments: freezing fat, fat dissolving injections, ultrasound massage techniques and so forth.”

Is a Non-Surgical Tummy Tuck Right For You?

First, it’s important to note that Soldin (who hasn’t treated Kardashian) isn’t necessarily convinced that there are actual, discernible physical results from the non-surgical procedures like there are for surgical ones. Rather, the results may be in the mind. For some women, those equally as important: “Mr. Soldin says that many doctors who do perform non-surgical tummy tucks are aware that the treatment is more satisfying from a psychological perspective versus a physical one.”

If you’re looking for a way to improve your self-image without going under the knife, a procedure like skin-tightening or ultrasound massage could very well be a good option. When paired with diet and exercise, the non-surgical procedure may prove to be the extra boost that gets you feeling confident with your body. Another narrative in the Kardashian story is her dramatic Atkins Diet and workout regime that’s got the world noticing her dramatically slimmer, leaner body: ” I had just had my second baby,” she told Women’s Wear Daily. “I thought, ‘I want to feel sexy again. I want to feel good about myself,’ and that was what did it for me.” Thus, the non-surgical tummy tuck is only one tool in her arsenal of weight-loss tactics.

If you’re interested in improving the appearance of your midsection, it’s safe to say that a surgical tummy tuck is fairly irreplaceable: You won’t get the same benefits without a surgeon actually, physically removing fat tissue and excess skin. However, if you’re Kardashian-esque an

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