During a tummy tuck, the patient receives anesthesia, and the plastic surgeon makes a horizontal incision, removes excess skin and sutures the remaining skin together, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. The doctor makes repairs to weak abdominal muscles and creates a new opening for the belly button, pulling it through the hole and stitching it into place.
A tummy tuck generally takes between one and five hours, depending on the complexity of the surgery, notes Cleveland Clinic. The procedure can occur as an inpatient or outpatient procedure.
There are three types of tummy tuck surgeries: complete abdominoplasty, partial or mini abdominonplasty, and circumferential abdominoplasty. The incision in a complete abdominoplasty goes from hip to hip, around the level of the pubic hair, with an incision around the belly button to allow reattachment once the doctor removes the excess skin. In a partial abdominoplasty, the incision is smaller and mainly affects the lower portion of the abdomen, with the belly button usually staying in place. The circumferential abdominoplasty removes excess skin from the back in addition to the abdomen, explains Cleveland Clinic.
During the procedure, the surgeon contours the skin and muscle and sometimes places drainage tubes under the skin, according to Cleveland Clinic. The physician stitches the incision closed and applies bandages at the end of the surgery.