Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty) Surgery

What is a tummy tuck? Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck removes excess fat and skin. After the changes of pregnancy, an abdominoplasty can also fix separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is tighter and firmer.

The ideal candidates for tummy tuck surgery are patients in relatively good physical shape, stable weight, but have excess skin or fat in the abdominal area that is resistant to diet and exercise. You should have realistic expectations and not smoke.

Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The common causes of this include pregnancy, significant fluctuations in weight, and heredity.


Tummy tuck surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.

There are several types of abdominoplasty, mostly depending on how much skin needs to be removed. The length of the scar depends on how much skin is removed. If only the lower abdomen needs improvement a mini tummy tuck can be done. In a mini tummy tuck , the upper abdomen and belly button is unchanged. A full abdominoplasty allows tightening of the entire abdomen and removal of the entire loose skin. If there is loose skin on the sides the incision can go further back and is called an extended abdominoplasty.

After large weight loss, the skin may be tightened all the way around the body, and is called a lower body lift or belt lipectomy. Insurance, in a few cases, may cover a pannulectomy which is just removal of the overhanging skin without liposuction or tightening of the abdominal wall. Usually the amount of skin is severe, hanging to the knees to be covered by an insurance plan. The majority of abdominoplasties are cosmetic and not covered by insurance.

You should understand the procedure and have realistic expectations. The repair and tightening of the abdominal muscles, along with the removal of the excess skin, may greatly improve body contour and appearance. Tightening of the abdominal wall is what affects the recovery and is similar to having a hernia repair or a C-section in recovery and return to activities.

Many cases can be done as an outpatient going home the same day. Iowa Plastic Surgery uses the On-Q pain pump which drips in numbing medication internally by the tightened muscles to reduce post-operative pain.

Although the results of an abdominoplasty procedure are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight or another pregnancy. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies may be advised to postpone abdominoplasty surgery. Smokers must quit smoking for two months before and after surgery to avoid severe complications to the skin. Other potential complications are all reviewed at the time of consultation.

Dr. Van Raalte can explain all of the surgical options, discuss related treatments, and help ensure that you are a good candidate for abdominoplasty.

If you would like further information or schedule a “get acquainted session” that shows an educational video, and before and after pictures, with our office staff at no cost, or if you want to schedule a surgical consultation with Dr. Van Raalte please call at 563-322-8877.

Dr. Van Raalte and the Annual Boy Scout Merit Badge Day

This was Dr. Van Raalte’s 9th year as the First Aid Merit Badge Clinic Medical Coordinator. The clinic at Genesis Heart Institute and Genesis Medical Center helped 130 Quad City area Boy Scouts earn their First Aid on Saturday, February 5th. The all-day clinic trained and tested the Scouts on how to recognize and treat medical conditions for First Aid. He also organized the Dentistry Merit Badge clinic for another 60 scouts.