Regular exercise and healthy eating are sometimes not enough to achieve a firmer, flat abdomen. You may be a healthy weight for your height but carry excess fat and skin on your stomach area due to various reasons, including:
- Significant weight fluctuations
- Prior surgery
That’s where body contouring procedures like abdominoplasty come in. Abdominoplasty removes the excess skin and fatty tissue from your abdomen and even tightens weakened or separated muscles. You may know the procedure as a tummy tuck.
There are different types of tummy tucks. Your plastic surgeon will determine the right one for you depending on the location and amount of redundant skin. If you have significant excess skin in your upper abdomen, your doctor may recommend a reverse abdominoplasty.
A reverse tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that removes sagging skin and excess fat from the area of your stomach that’s above the navel. The intended results are a smoother, flatter, and well-toned upper abdomen.
Individuals who undergo reverse abdominoplasty may have excess fat in the lower abdomen but not excess skin. The procedure does not address the abdominal muscles.
Reverse tummy tucks are rare because most people have loose skin on both their entire midsection. And that is usually addressed by a traditional tummy tuck.
Unlike other tummy tuck procedures, a reverse abdominoplasty does not impact your lower abdomen tissues and muscles. So it does not require the plastic surgeon to make an incision between your navel and pubic hairline.
Instead, the procedure uses two incisions made directly below the breasts, along the inframammary fold or breast crease.
In some cases, the surgeon makes one incision that crosses the midline to connect both sides of your abdomen.
With a reverse tummy tuck, the belly button does not need repositioning like is often the case during a full tummy tuck. So an incision around the navel is not necessary.
The ideal candidate for a reverse tummy tuck is a man or woman with sagging tissue on their upper abdomen. This may be an individual who underwent a previous tummy tuck that did not fully address excess skin above the belly button.
Women with loose upper abdominal skin looking to enhance their breast shape, size, and appearance also make good candidates for reverse abdominoplasty.
You may choose to have your breasts augmented with the excess tissue removed from your upper abdomen instead of buying implants.
If you’ve already had breast augmentation but notice your implants have shifted out of position, your plastic surgeon may recommend combining a reverse tummy tuck with breast implant revision surgery.
The excised excess skin and tissue, in this case, is used as a skin autograft to help reposition the breast implant and hold it in place.
Overall, the ideal candidate for reverse abdominoplasty:
- Is in good overall health
- Is at a stable weight
- Doesn’t smoke
- Fully understands all aspects of the procedure, including the risks involved
- Has realistic expectations about the results
- Does not plan to get pregnant in future
While in front of a mirror, bend over and observe your abdomen. If a roll of loose skin forms above and below your belly button, your surgeon will likely recommend a full or traditional tummy tuck.
If the skin below your navel is sagging down, a mini tummy tuck is the best treatment option.
Your lower abdominal skin is smooth and tight, but you have saggy skin on your upper abdomen, you’re a good candidate for a reverse abdominoplasty.
During your tummy tuck consultation, your plastic surgeon will conclusively determine the right tummy tuck for you by examining your abdomen.
A reverse abdominoplasty is an outpatient surgery, meaning you get to go home the same day. Before the procedure, an anesthesiologist will administer you with general anesthesia to induce unconsciousness.
Your plastic surgeon will then make an incision under your breasts, along the breast crease. From there, he will excise the excess skin and use liposuction to remove unwanted fat deposits.
Finally, the surgeon will pull the remaining upper abdominal skin upward until tight, then close the incision with dissolvable sutures.
According to the latest statistics from the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the average cost of a tummy tuck is $6,154.
The total cost of your reverse tummy tuck will depend on factors, such as the location of the surgical facility, your surgeon’s experience, and the number of procedures you’re having.
Your health insurance will likely not cover your reverse abdominoplasty surgery. However, many plastic surgeons offer payment plans, which helps make the procedure more affordable.
According to one study, a reverse tummy tuck is generally safe and results in few complications.
However, like with any other surgery, it poses various risks, which your plastic surgeon will discuss before you consent to the procedure.
Potential complications of a reverse abdominoplasty include:
- Adverse reaction to anesthesia
- Fluid accumulation under the skin (seroma)
- Pooling of blood under the skin (hematoma)
- Poor wound healing
- Changes in skin sensation
- Unfavorable scarring
- Need for revision surgery
Expect some pain, swelling, and bruising in the first few weeks following a reverse tummy tuck.
Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications to help ease the discomfort and will likely ask you to wear a compression garment to help minimize the swelling.
You should be able to return to work 1-2 weeks after your procedure. You should, however, avoid strenuous activities like heavy lifting for at least four to six weeks.
Follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions to ensure a speedy recovery and reduce the risk of complications.
You will notice that your upper abdomen is smoother and firmer immediately after your reverse tummy tuck.
But your final results will become evident once the swelling fully resolves, which could take a couple of months.
If you maintain a healthy lifestyle and stable weight, your new slimmer abdominal profile will be long-lasting.
After a reverse abdominoplasty, you will either have a single scar crossing the midline or two separate scars below your breasts.
The resulting scars are generally well hidden by bras and bikinis. But if your surgeon uses one continuous incision, part of the scar may be visible if you wear a low-cut top. Patients with larger breasts have more scar coverage.
A reverse tummy tuck scar is permanent but will fade over time. Ensure to care for your incisions as instructed during your recovery to help minimize scarring.
- American Society of plastic surgeons (July 12, 2016). What is a reverse abdominoplasty and who needs it?. plasticsurgery.org/news/blog/what-is-a-reverse-abdominoplasty-and-who-needs-it.
- Reverse Abdominoplasty (Feb 25, 2021). drnamnoum.com/procedures/body/reverse-abdominoplasty/
- Spalding Drive (n.d). Reverse Abdominoplasty. spaldingplasticsurgery.com/body/reverse-abdominoplasty/
- NorthWestern Plastic Surgery (n.d). How common is reverse abdominoplasty? northwesternplastics.com/procedures/body-procedures-chicago/reverse-tummy-tuck-chicago/
- Dr. Jaime (Jan 14, 2019). Reverse Tummy Tuck Explained. drjaimeschwartz.com/body-blog/reverse-tummy-tuck-explained