Summary: If you’re unhappy or embarrassed about your flabby stomach and wish you had a tighter, slimmer tummy instead, a tummy tuck may be just what you need. The first and arguably most important step on your way to a trimmer waistline is a consultation with a plastic surgeon. During your consultation, you should ask several important questions to ensure you’re prepared and informed before your surgery.

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1. Are You Board Certified?

Asking whether or not your surgeon is board certified is a great way to assess his or her level of skill and experience. In order to become board certified, doctors must meet a number of high standards regarding education, clinical experience, ethical training and individual research in their specialized field. Patients choosing a board certified plastic surgeon can feel confident they’re receiving care from a dedicated and highly qualified professional.

2. Am I a Good Candidate?

Even if you think a tummy tuck is perfect for you, your surgeon will need to determine which procedure can realistically give you the results you hope for and whether the timing is right for you. For example, a young mother who may wish to have more children in the future may be encouraged by her surgeon to put off her tummy tuck until she’s finished expanding her family. Additionally, your surgeon will need to examine the condition of the skin and tissue on your abdomen to determine if a tummy tuck can deliver the ideal results.

3. How Many Tummy Tuck Surgeries Do You Perform Every Year?

Asking this very simple question is an excellent way to determine your surgeon’s experience and ability in performing plastic surgery, specifically tummy tuck surgeries. If your surgeon primarily specializes in breast implants, for instance, and hasn’t performed many tummy tucks in the last year, you’ll likely achieve better results by choosing a plastic surgeon who specializes in tummy tucks and performs them consistently. There’s an artistic element to performing a great tummy tuck and this skill becomes fine-tuned with diligent practice.

4. Is Liposuction Included at the Same Time?

By nature, a tummy tuck will address loose flabby skin on the stomach and repair the underlying abdominal muscles. Patients who have excess fat around the sides of the waist, including love handles, are often surprised to find that a traditional tummy tuck may not correct those problem areas. Combining a tummy tuck with liposuction of the upper abdomen and flanks can create a more comprehensive and superior improvement of the waistline and body contours.

5. Will I Need Drains After Surgery?

Many patients are reluctant to have a tummy tuck because they assume they’ll have to wear uncomfortable and unpleasant surgical drains after their operation. However, some surgeons have developed new techniques that allow for a drain-free tummy tuck. If you’re concerned about post-surgical drains, be sure to ask your surgeon which technique he or she practices.

6. Who Should I Contact If I Have Concerns During Recovery?

Although it’s a very safe and effective procedure, a tummy tuck is still surgery and there will be a recovery period to consider. Your consultation is a great time to ask questions about what you can expect during recovery in addition to questions about the procedure itself. Be sure your surgeon fully explains and prepares you for the recovery process and gives you instructions about how to care for yourself at home and how to get in touch should you have any concerns throughout the healing process.