Tummy Tuck

tummy tuck patient

Sometimes, despite our best attempts at diet and exercise, we struggle to firm up our abdomen. Women who have had children understand that pregnancy introduces its own set of challenges to that elusive, flat tummy. In cases like these, abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck as it’s commonly known, can help restore your body to a more youthful, toned appearance.

A tummy tuck addresses three primary issues: Excess skin around the midsection, stubborn deposits of fat in the abdomen, and separated stomach muscles. With tummy tuck surgery, board-certified Virginia plastic surgeon Dr. Roberta Gartside can firm and strengthen your midsection, while also enhancing the natural contours of your hips and waist.

If you live in Washington, D.C. or Virginia and would like to learn if tummy tuck surgery is right for you, please contact New Image Plastic Surgery Associates, PLC online or call us at 703-742-8004 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Roberta Gartside.

What is a Tummy Tuck?

A tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure used to restore your midsection to a more youthful, toned appearance. Patients who struggle with excess fat or skin in the abdomen, despite maintaining a healthy regimen of diet and exercise, choose abdominoplasty to achieve a slimmer, smoother look.

Our full tummy tuck addresses areas throughout the abdomen and is not limited to the area below the belly button. This procedure is popular among women who plan not to have more children or individuals who have loose skin following weight loss. Dr. Gartside often performs a full tummy tuck as part of a mommy makeover to restore a pre-pregnancy figure.

A few of the most common causes of abdomen protrusion include:

  • Aging
  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prior surgery
  • Significant fluctuations in weight

Many patients choose to include liposuction as part of their tummy tuck procedure for enhanced results.

Mini Tummy Tuck

At New Image Plastic Surgery Associates, we’re pleased to offer our mini tummy tuck. Like the name implies, a mini tummy tuck is just like the traditional procedure, only smaller. The mini tummy tuck is perfect for individuals whose area of concern is largely in the lower abdomen. It’s a popular option for women who have delivered via Caesarean section or who have undergone hysterectomy surgery. In these cases, a protruding lower abdomen may be a patient’s primary concern.

Tummy Tuck Benefits

The most obvious benefit of tummy tuck surgery is slimming and toning of the midsection for significant improvement of physical appearance. The improvements from tummy tuck surgery can help create a more balanced look to your entire body. These improvements include the removal of loose and sagging skin, the elimination of stretch marks, and a general toning of the abdominal area. While aesthetics is often the driving force behind seeking tummy tuck surgery, good candidates for this procedure are primed to experience physical benefits as well.

During tummy tuck surgery, abdominal muscles are tightened. This not only draws in the waist, it strengthens and tones the core which, in turn, can improve physical function and balance. Tummy tuck surgery alone may not fully improve core strength, but it can act as a springboard for a more active lifestyle which can further tone, slim, and improve general quality of life.

You’ll experience many benefits when you undergo a tummy tuck. Some of these include:

  • Slimmer, more toned midsection
  • Elimination of stretch marks
  • Removal of loose skin caused by pregnancy or weight loss
  • Tighten abdominal muscles
  • Motivating tool to lead a healthier lifestyle after significant weight loss
  • Look better in a bathing suit
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Safe and effective treatment
  • Natural looking results

If you are unhappy with your abdominal area for any reason, board-certified McLean plastic surgeon Dr. Roberta Gartside welcomes an opportunity to meet with you, discuss your concerns, and help you better understand how tummy tuck surgery can assist you in reaching your goals. Please visit our tummy tuck before and after gallery to see our results.

Tummy Tuck Candidacy

It’s important to note that the tummy tuck procedure, while beneficial for many, is not perfect for everyone. Certain factors may inhibit you from being a candidate for this procedure, as your health and lifestyle play an important part in determining if this treatment is right for you.

Factors that disqualify you from candidacy include:

  • Poor health
  • Being overweight
  • Are or are planning to be pregnant
  • Being a smoker

Ideal candidates include those who:

  • Are in good overall health
  • Are at or near their ideal weight
  • Have excess skin resulting from weight loss
  • Have fatty deposits in the abdominal area
  • Have loose skin or muscles from pregnancy
  • Want a more toned and contoured waist

Preparing for Tummy Tuck Surgery

Tummy tuck surgery is a complex body contouring procedure. By preparing for it adequately, you can help reduce postoperative discomfort and the risk of some complications. Virginia tummy tuck surgeon Dr. Roberta Gartside and our friendly staff will work closely with you to ensure you are fully prepared for your procedure. We will continue to work with you after your tummy tuck to see that you remain cared for throughout your recovery period.

The most important step in preparing for tummy tuck surgery is taking care of your body. There are certain activities that will need to be avoided during your tummy tuck recovery period. It is a good idea to arrange for assistance from a friend or family member for the first few days of recovery. This will give you plenty of time to rest, an important part of the healing process.

In preparation for your procedure, it’s recommended you follow these steps:

  • If you are a smoker, Dr. Gartside will insist that you quit at least six weeks prior to your tummy tuck surgery. The chemicals in cigarettes, even electronic cigarettes, can greatly increase the risk of complications following your tummy tuck procedure.
  • Certain medications and supplements will need to be avoided prior to your surgery. Dr. Gartside will provide you with a list of medications that will need to be stopped during your tummy tuck planning phase.
  • You will want to prepare an area of your house that is comfortable for resting. Stock this area with plenty of books, magazines, movies, and other things that will allow you to rest while keeping you entertained. Make sure everything you need is easily accessible in your resting area.

You Aren’t a Good Tummy Tuck Candidate … Now What?

There are a lot of different reasons why your physician would tell you that you aren’t an ideal candidate for tummy tuck surgery. It may feel like a bit of a blow to the stomach if you felt like a tummy tuck was your only option to attaining your ideal appearance, but there is some good news: you have plenty of other options at New Image Plastic Surgery.

Who Shouldn’t Have Tummy Tuck Surgery?

If you haven’t been to a surgeon yet, but have some concerns over your candidacy, it might be best to have some idea of what conditions can dampen your ability to have tummy tuck surgery. Generally, you are not considered a good tummy tuck candidate if:

You’re planning to have more children. 

This might seem a bit extreme, but the reality of pregnancy and childbirth is that they both have a substantial impact on your body. A tummy tuck focuses on improving the appearance of your abdomen, while pregnancy focuses on restructuring that area of your body to best suit the growth of your baby. 

Naturally, you’ll want to wait until you are done having children to go through with tummy tuck surgery. Otherwise, you will quickly understand why a tummy tuck and pregnancy are incompatible — all the work that gets done will just be reversed.

You don’t have enough excess skin.

In order to successfully restructure your abdominal area, your surgeon must excise skin and then drape it back over to create a more taut appearance. If there is no extra skin on your body, it would be hard to pull the skin back together, which can create aesthetic and functional issues.

You’re trying to lose weight.

When you shed pounds through diet and exercise, your fat cells begin to shrink. Unfortunately, your skin cells do not have the same ability, which means your skin becomes droopy and saggy even though you might be in the best shape of your life. 

If you were to continue to lose weight after your tummy tuck surgery, then your newly taut appearance would quickly begin to sag again. This is why surgeons will generally recommend that you wait until you have reached your ideal size before having tummy tuck surgery. 

You don’t have time for recovery.

Tummy tucks, also known as abdominoplasties, are ultimately surgery. As with any surgery, you can expect to have a pretty significant recovery time of at least six weeks. During that time, you should remain resting as much as possible, avoid strenuous activities and take as much time as you need to let your body get back to normal. 

If you have a lot of commitments and cannot afford to take time off for recovery, then you are probably not at the best stage of your life to have a tummy tuck procedure performed. You can always come back to it at a more ideal time when you don’t have so many obligations or responsibilities piled up.

You have underlying health conditions.

Most cosmetic surgeries these days are pretty safe and routine, especially when you have an experienced and trained medical professional like Dr. Gartside. But complications still do arise, so it is important to do everything you can before and during the procedure to ensure issues do not come up. 

Unfortunately, there is little that can be done about serious underlying conditions that pose a real threat to your safety. During your consultation, one of our medical professionals will review your entire history and determine if anything puts you at risk.

It is possible to take precautions for some conditions and work around them in a safe way, but some more severe diagnoses may be more difficult or impossible to work around.

What Are the Tummy Tuck Alternatives?

If you find yourself excluded from tummy tuck candidacy for any of the reasons listed above, you shouldn’t give up on your aesthetic desires yet. There are plenty of other procedures you can have performed that are not as extensive as an abdominoplasty. 


Liposuction is technically considered a surgery, but you can have it performed in a range of different ways that are less invasive and do not require full anesthesia. If your main concern is getting rid of excess pockets of stubborn fat, then you should reach out to our office about having this procedure performed. 

Unfortunately, liposuction cannot do anything for someone who has excess tissue around the abdomen, making it a poor choice in many cases for people who have lost weight and are not looking to tighten their appearance.


While liposuction can do very little to combat excess, drooping skin, SculpSure is a noninvasive, nonsurgical body contouring procedure that can kill unwanted fat cells and tighten the skin simultaneously. The concentrated light energy in SculpSure is best suited to patients with mild to moderate skin laxity since it is limited to the amount of correction it can make. 

Abdominal Etching

While this is technically one of the ways that your surgeon can use liposuction, it is important to draw attention to this method because of how popular of a problem it solves. Many people work on their muscles and physique for hours a day because they want a chiseled appearance. But that appearance doesn’t always show itself as much as you’d like it to. 

By sculpting around your abdominal muscles with a liposuction tool, the inner muscles line can be revealed and defined, giving you the sculpted appearance you have been working for.

The best way to find out if any of these methods are good options for you personally is to fill out our online contact form to get a consultation scheduled as soon as possible. 

Tummy Tuck Recovery

After your procedure, bandages or dressings may need to be placed over your incisions and you may need to wear an elastic bandage or another compression garment to help control any swelling, as well as to support your abdomen to ensure proper healing. The results of your procedure may not be apparent until healing has completed. Once the swelling has subsided, roughly within a week or two, you’ll begin to see a flatter, slimmer midsection.

In the recovery period after your surgery, you may find that you are not able to stand fully upright. This is normal, as the tightening of the internal muscles limits mobility for a couple of weeks.

Your recovery will also consist of other restrictions and guidelines to make sure you heal properly. These include:

  • It may be recommended to take time off from work to ensure proper healing
  • Limiting strenuous activity for at least six weeks
  • Taking prescribed medication for pain management and to promote healing
  • Do not drive for one to two weeks while taking pain medication
  • Walking is the preferred mode of light exercise during the recovery period
  • Drains are placed to help alleviate excess fluid buildup. Dr. Gartside will instruct you how to properly treat and care your wounds

Following tummy tuck surgery, a healthy diet and exercise regimen will only serve to enhance results. These things can further improve self-confidence along with physical ability and life expectancy, making tummy tuck surgery the perfect motivator for a more productive and more enjoyable life. During your initial abdominoplasty consultation, Dr. Gartside can answer any questions you have about tummy tuck benefits and help you better understand the most effective ways to maximize your results.

Contact Our Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon Today

A tummy tuck delivers natural-looking results safely and effectively. If you’re ready to learn how a tummy tuck can help boost your self-confidence, Dr. Gartside can help you achieve the beautiful body you desire.

Please call 703-742-8004 or contact New Image Plastic Surgery Associates online today to arrange a consultation to discuss your tummy tuck candidacy. We proudly serve patients in Reston, Fairfax, McLean, and throughout the Washington D.C. area.