What Is A Tummy Tuck?

After years of weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and the unfortunate effects of aging, many women are left with weakened abdominal muscles, excess skin, and fat hanging from their midsection. A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) removes excess skin, eliminates unwanted fat, and tightens separated abdominal muscles to provide a flatter and firmer stomach area. It is particularly important to note that tummy tuck surgery is recommended for patients at or near their ideal weight for the best long-term results, and is not intended for significant weight loss. A tummy tuck is often performed as part of a mommy makeover procedure.

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Why Choose Dr. Zenn?

  • Dr. Michael Zenn has performed thousands of abdominal surgeries
  • He was board-certified in General Surgery before he became a board-certified plastic surgeon and has detailed knowledge and experience operating in the abdominal area
  • He has taught the “quilting suture” abdominoplasty procedure to residents and young plastic surgeons
  • Honored to be a Castle Connolly Top Doctor for Cosmetic Surgery
  • Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery

Excess Fat

Many patients have collections of fat in the hips, stomach, and pubic area. Dr. Zenn includes abdominal liposuction as part of a tummy tuck in Raleigh.

In this case, it is not considered an additional procedure.

Loose Skin

Many of our abdominoplasty patients have developed an apron of excess skin that protrudes over their waistline. Therefore, Dr. Zenn removes this loose skin to achieve a flatter shape. This often has the added benefit of eliminating vertical stretch marks in this area. Dr. Zenn feels it is important to end up with only the hidden scar along the bikini line – and no vertical scars.

Muscle Separation

Dr. Zenn will assess the degree to which your abdominal muscles may have separated. This is common after pregnancy or following extreme weight fluctuations and can cause a bulging belly that may not respond to diet or exercise. In these cases, Dr. Zenn uses internal sutures to bring together the abdominal muscles, significantly tightening and flattening the belly. Too many plastic surgeons tighten all patients’ muscles whether or not there is a bulge. However, Dr. Zenn strongly feels this is often not necessary and shows a lack of understanding of the dynamic function of the abdominal core. It also unnecessarily lengthens recovery.

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Tummy Tuck Before & After

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Your Tummy Tuck Consultation

The consultation is a perfect time to “ask the expert” anything as well as everything you want to know about tummy tucks. Dr. Zenn takes the time to answer your questions to make sure you understand all the considerations for surgery. He will share his thoughts on all the “latest and greatest” inventions on the market to address fat in the abdomen.

Dr. Zenn believes in practicing with integrity and will be honest with you if you are not a candidate for a tummy tuck. No question is too small or insignificant. Dr. Zenn wants you to be comfortable with your decision to have surgery and completely confident in your choice of surgeon.

I have been waiting over 20 years to do my tummy tuck – I’m so glad I did and choosing Dr. Zenn was the absolute best decision my husband and I made.

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A Safe Space To Share Aesthetic Concerns

During your initial consultation, we encourage you to openly share your aesthetic concerns with Dr. Zenn. This is an opportunity to talk about what you like and dislike about your abdominal area. It also gives you a chance to get to know Dr. Zenn. Once he has learned about your health background and has a clear understanding of your goals and expectations, he will examine you to determine if a tummy tuck, with or without muscle repair, is the best plan to address your concerns.

Following your physical exam, Dr. Zenn will share his extensive gallery of before and after photos with you. He will show you past patients who had similar concerns to yours — and explain what he did to correct their problem. Dr. Zenn will then recommend a treatment plan specifically for you. When you are ready to move forward, your pre-operative appointment and surgery will be scheduled.

Your Tummy Tuck Surgical Experience

Zenn Plastic Surgery patients have their procedures performed in the state-of-the-art free-standing operating theater called The Plastic Surgery Center (TPSC.) The TPSC facility includes a separate first-floor entrance and a waiting area for families to provide privacy for our discerning clientele. TPSC is accredited by the Joint Commission and AAAASF.

Just prior to your tummy tuck in Brier Creek, Dr. Zenn will review the surgical plan with you, and make marks to guide his work. Next, following his plan, Dr. Zenn will do one or more of the following:

  • Perform targeted liposuction to flatten your belly and surrounding area
  • Remove excess skin to give you a leaner body contour
  • Close the separation between your abdominal muscles
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Board-Certified Anesthesia Care

For your safety and comfort, you will have the exclusive attention of a talented board-certified Anesthesiologist, not a nurse anesthetist or CRNA. Our MDs are highly skilled at providing patients with peace of mind and the most pleasant anesthesia experience possible. Our patients can expect to sleep safely and comfortably throughout the procedure and to wake up with little to no pain, queasiness, or sore throat.

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What Is The Recovery From A Tummy Tuck Like?

After surgery, your abdomen will feel tight with some soreness. If your muscle tightening is part of your surgery, Dr. Zenn will perform a regional nerve block, which numbs the abdomen for 2-3 days after surgery. This can greatly diminish the need for pain medication during recovery. If tightening of the muscles is not necessary, the tummy tuck is much less painful, and a nerve block is unnecessary.

You will see Dr. Zenn the morning following surgery and can shower that day. You should plan to stay home and be inactive for the first two weeks after surgery. Additionally, if your muscles are tightened, you must avoid heavy lifting of any kind for 6 to 8 weeks. Once Dr. Zenn gives you the okay, you may slowly ease back into your normal routine.

A Fabulous Flat Tummy Awaits

Following your tummy tuck in Raleigh, you will immediately notice an improvement in your figure because of a significantly flatter tummy. Your results will continue to improve as you heal. By the end of your recuperation, you will enjoy greater confidence in your body, and maybe even need to shop for new wardrobe.

Considering a Tummy Tuck?

Get yourself informed! Hear the 3 Most Common Misconceptions about Tummy Tucks from Dr. Zenn.

Tummy Tuck - 3 Common Misconceptions

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Dr. Zenn's Tummy Tuck Patient Reviews


Dr. Zenn is amazing. He takes the time to listen to your needs/wants and executes them with the greatest of detail. He has not only rewritten my physical appearance but my internal dialog to myself is improved 10 fold.


I'm a 30 year old woman with no children who recently lost 100lbs. I had my tummy tuck/skin removal surgery 1/6/20. I chose Dr. Zenn because I liked his candor, demeanor and his credentials are on point.


This was one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself, Thank you for changing my life and doing so with so much care and compassion. I felt safe and was reassured every step of the way. Dr. Zenn and Jo Ann called me daily, to check on me after...


I had a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) earlier this year. Dr. Zenn's bedside manner was the best I experienced and I am a medical professional, working with many doctors each day. He was kind, professional, honest, personable, and extremely knowledgeabl...

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Tummy Tuck FAQs

Can I have a “drainless” tummy tuck?

Why is there so much swelling without a drain?

Can I have kids after a tummy tuck?

What is diastasis recti?

Can I have a “drainless” tummy tuck?

Yes, however you must be willing to accept the tradeoff of prolonged swelling and possibly an inferior final result. Dr. Zenn does not offer drainless tummy tucks except in special circumstances (mini-tummy tucks). And for a very good reason: the use of drains ensures the best chance for a swift uneventful recovery with outstanding results. Post-operative complications, specifically prolonged swelling and fluid leakage, are significantly higher without the use of drains. Therefore, the final results of drainless tummy tucks are usually delayed for months compared to tummy tucks with drains. Do not believe marketing that claims some surgeons offer drainless tummy tucks because they are “modern” or know how to do some sort of “special suturing”; that’s not true. In fact, Dr. Zenn uses the “special weaving suturing technique” that is advertised with drainless tummy tucks and still uses drains. Dr. Zenn understands that looking good as soon as possible is important to his patients. Despite what you see on social media, the standard of care in tummy tuck surgery is still use of a drain.

Why is there so much swelling without a drain?

A tummy tuck procedure creates a large surgical wound in the body. The human body heals surgical wounds by producing and releasing fluid that contains healing cells and proteins. This fluid fills the wound cavity that needs healing. There is no kind of special suturing that will prevent this natural response. The fluid that is normally removed via a drain in a tummy tuck measures hundreds of cc’s. That fluid has got to go somewhere. It is either removed with drains or will be absorbed by the abdominal skin. The resulting scar will also interfere with the lymphatics, which normally help to drain the lower abdominal area of fluid. The end result is prolonged swelling that can be significant. Given enough time, the body should reabsorb the fluid. Alternatively, a drain can be placed later if the fluid forms a collection (called a “seroma”). The hope is that the tummy skin is not stretched out by prolonged swelling or a seroma, which would then require a revisional surgery.

Can I have kids after a tummy tuck?

Yes. If you are actively trying to get pregnant or considering it in the following year or so, hold off on having a tummy tuck so your surgery ultimately will correct changes due to pregnancy as well.

What is diastasis recti?

Diastasis recti is a weakness in the belly wall between the rectus muscles that line the front of our abdomens. On the outside, patients see a bulge of the central tummy, especially with exertion. To determine if you have a Diastasis Recti, do this quick test at home. Lay down and feel between your belly button and your pubis. Raise both your legs 6”. If your belly stays flat, you do not have a diastasis. However, you feel a bulge pushing up your fingers, that is a diastasis! Not sure? Schedule a consultation with Dr. Zenn, and he will let you know.

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