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An abdominoplasty is an operation that is designed to remove excess skin from the abdomen while tightening the abdominal muscles. Unlike liposuction surgery, which just removes fat, abdominoplasty involves removal of skin and fat, with tightening of the abdominal muscles. For this reason it is more extensive than liposuction. The actual extent of abdominoplasty surgery will depend on the amount of excess skin and the laxity of the abdominal muscles.

The objective of a tummy tuck is to improve the contour of the body by flattening and narrowing the abdomen. The best candidates for the surgery are those individuals who are of normal weight but with weak abdominal muscles and excess skin and fat. Age, obesity and smoking habits are some of the factors the physician considers when evaluating a candidate for this procedure.

In some cases, liposuction surgery can be combined with excision of excess abdominal skin instead of a more complete tummy tuck. Although this does not give as good a skin tightening, it does result in much smaller scares and a shorter recovery period. When a full tummy tuck is contemplated, however, extensive liposuction is best delayed until a later time, since there seems to be a higher chance of complications when the two procedures are combined. Occasionally, minor additional liposuction is done after the original operation.

Each year thousands of abdominoplasties are successfully performed. The amount of improvement from a tummy tuck is individual and depends upon the extent of surgery and the patient's skin tone, body build and healing process. While it remains a popular option for both men and women, it is an extensive surgical procedure. Patients must be prepared for a few weeks of recovery and be willing to accept a long scar that is a necessary part of the surgical procedure.