Both pregnancy and fluctuations in weight can leave the abdominal muscles lax and separated, resulting in abdominal bulges and loose, hanging skin around the belly. These changes may not be responsive to diet or exercise. A tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) directly addresses these issues producing a flatter, firmer tummy and improved figure.

What Is A Tummy Tuck?

After years of weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and the unfortunate effects of aging, many men and women are left with a weakened abdomial muscles and excess skin and fat hanging from their midsection. Dr. Michael Zenn is a recognized expert in abdominal wall surgery from complex hernia repairs to state-of-the-art tummy tuck procedures. By having you tummy tuck procedure at Zenn Plastic Surgery, you are receiving the best possible surgery and care. Dr. Zenn is able to restore the tummies of his patients to a firmer, flatter, more youthful appearance by removing excess skin, eliminating unwanted fat, and tightening separated abdominal muscles. Tummy tuck should only be considered by patients who are at or near their goal weight and looking for a longterm result.


Benefits of A Tummy Tuck

Tummy tuck surgery helps patients improve the appearance of their abdomen through one or a combination of techniques:
  • Removing excess skin
  • Eliminating unwanted fat
  • Tightening the underlying muscles to eliminate bulges

Board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Zenn has performed hundreds of tummy tuck procedures. 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 knows which tummy tuck techniques work, and which ones don’t, and which are “too good to be true.” He has taught the abdominoplasty procedure to residents training at Duke and UNC over the past 20 years, many of whom practice in the area using Dr. Zenn’s techniques.


Dr. Zenn’s Approach to Tummy Tuck

A tummy tuck is a body contouring procedure. The tradeoff is that surgery leaves a scar in place of the excised skin. Dr. Zenn positions this incision below the waistline so that patients can enjoy a natural-looking appearance in everyday clothing and beachwear. He evaluates patients’ needs to determine whether this tradeoff makes sense for each situation. Sometimes liposuction alone, which leaves smaller and less prominent scars, is a better option for certain patients.


Is a Tummy Tuck Right for You?

During your appointment with Dr. Zenn, he will get to know you and learn what bothers you most about your abdominal area. Together, you will discuss the results you would like to see and the best means of achieving these goals. After a physical exam, Dr. Zenn will take the following into consideration when planning your potential surgery:

Excess Fat

Many patients have collections of fat in the hips, stomach, and pubic area. Dr. Zenn commonly includes abdominal liposuction as part of your tummy tuck so these areas will appear smooth following surgery.

Loose Skin

Many of our abdominoplasty patients have developed an apron of excess skin that protrudes over their waistline. Dr. Zenn can excise this loose skin to give you an improved shape. This often has the added benefit of eliminating vertical stretch marks in this area.

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 it can cause a bulging belly that may not respond to diet or exercise. In these cases, Dr. Zenn typically uses internal sutures to bring together the abdominal muscles, significantly tightening and flattening your belly.

The consultation is a perfect time to “ask the expert” anything and everything you want to know about abdominoplasty. Dr. Zenn will be happy 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 and why they may or may not deliver the results you desire. No question is too small or insignificant. We want you to be comfortable with your decision to have surgery and confident in your choice of surgeon.


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“Dr. Zenn’s kindness and skill has changed my life. It is amazing to me that someone who is so talented and skilled and confident can also be as approachable, kind, genuine and nice as Dr. Zenn is.”
-Happy Patient


What is the Recovery From Tummy Tuck Like?

Zenn Plastic Surgery patients have their procedures in one of several accredited surgical facilities in the Raleigh and Cary area. A board-certified anesthesiologist/CRNA helps patients sleep safely and comfortably throughout the surgery and wake up with little or no pain, sore throat, or queasiness.

Just prior to surgery, 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 areas
  • Close the separation between your abdominal muscles
  • Remove excess skin to give you a leaner body contour

After surgery, your abdomen will feel tight and sore. Dr. Zenn will discuss with you the option of receiving a regional block which numbs the abdomen for 2-3 days after surgery. This can greatly diminish the need for pain medication after surgery.

You should plan to stay home and be inactive for the first two weeks after surgery. You must avoid heavy lifting of any kind. Once Dr. Zenn gives you the okay, then you may slowly ease back into your normal routine.

Following your abdominoplasty, you will immediately notice that you have a flatter and improved figure. Your results should continue to improve as you heal, and by the end of your recuperation, you will enjoy greater confidence and maybe even a new wardrobe!


What Is the Average Cost of a Tummy Tuck?

Dr. Zenn is a recognized expert in state-of-the-art tummy tuck procedures. During his many years at UNC and Duke, he also was the expert in abdominal wall surgery for complex hernia repairs so be rest assured any bulges or hernias will be repaired at the same time. Dr. Zenn is able to restore the tummies of his patients to a firmer, flatter, more youthful appearance by removing excess skin, eliminating unwanted fat, and tightening separated abdominal muscles.

Since every plastic surgeon offers tummy tuck as a procedure, there is a lot of shopping around for price. Just know that the advertised price at many places may not be the eventual price you pay. At Zenn Plastic Surgery, the package price is the price. The package is based on a surgeon’s fee, anesthesia fees, and surgical facility fees. It also includes the consultation, photos, scar gel, garments, and all follow-up appointments. Why is the package price at Zenn Plastic Surgery a little higher that most? Because who does the surgery matters and no one in the Triangle is more experienced than Dr. Zenn.

For your convenience we offer a wide array of payment options, including financing through Care Credit and Alphaeon Credit.


Tummy Tuck FAQs

  • Can I have a “drainless” Tummy Tuck?

    Dr. Zenn does not offer drainless tummy tucks except in special circumstances (mini-tummy tucks). And for a very good reason! The incidence of post-operative complications, specifically prolonged swelling and fluid leakage is significantly higher without the use of drains. Importantly, final results are delayed for months after the procedure. Because patients are always our first concern at Zenn Plastic Surgery, the use of drains insures the best chance for a swift uneventful recovery with outstanding results.

  • Why is there so much swelling without a drain?

    The tummy tuck procedure creates a large wound in the abdomen that the body naturally tries to heal. The body’s natural response to injury includes production of fluid that contains essential healing elements. The larger the “injury” the more fluid produced.

    Some surgeons who perform drainless tummy tucks claim the technique is “advanced and not all surgeons are trained to do it.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Dr. Zenn’s experience is extensive and his tummy tuck technique (which many plastic surgeons have learned from him!) includes the internal suturing or “quilting” of the abdomen that some surgeons claim are “advanced techniques.” The problem is these techniques do not prevent the body’s response to injury and the creation of fluid. While these techniques may result in slightly less fluid collection, that fluid must still go somewhere. Without drains, it can collect as a fluid collection (seroma) which may need to be drained or require a drain to be placed post-surgery.  It can also result in excessive swelling of the abdomen which can persist for months and ultimately may affect your final result.

    The “drainless tummy tuck” is more about marketing and less about getting the best possible results.

  • Can I Have Kids After a Tummy Tuck?

    Yes. You can have children after a tummy tuck. There are no physical limitations to getting pregnant after this procedure, as long as the body has time to heal after the surgery.

    However, we recommend you wait until after you have children for a number of reasons. During pregnancy, a woman’s abdomen must stretch and expand to make room for the baby. This means your belly will bulge out, possibly weakening the abdominal muscles and creating stretchmarks in the skin. These issues are fixed during a tummy tuck.

    The results of your tummy tuck should be long lasting.  No reason to go through the time and expense of surgery if the results may be compromised in the near future.

  • What is Diastasis Recti?

    “Diastasis Recti” is the medical term for a bulge in the abdominal wall caused by a separation of the two main muscles of your tummy, the rectus abdominis muscles. Diastasis recti is an extremely common condition after pregnancy, caused by thinning muscles that expand to make room for the baby. For some mothers, once the baby is delivered, the abdominal muscles contract back to normal size and tighten up again. However, for others, the muscles stay stretched out, leading to diastasis recti. Unfortunately, diastasis recti is more than just a cosmetic flaw. It can also contribute to lower back pain, hernias, digestive problems, and bladder issues.

    Diastasis recti should not be confused with a hernia. A hernia is a defect or hole in the abdominal wall that allows contents from your abdomen to come out and bulge. It is important to differentiate between the two. Because Dr. Zenn was board certified in general surgery before his board certification in plastic surgery, he is an expert in fixing bulges and hernias of the abdominal wall. Sometimes during a tummy tuck, hernias are discovered unexpectedly during the surgery.  Rest assured, repair of any hernias discovered are repaired as a normal part of Dr. Zenn’s tummy tucks and does not change the cost of the surgery to you.

    During a tummy tuck, Dr. Zenn exposes the abdominal muscles under the skin. If separated, he will surgically pull these muscles closer together and suture them in place. Over time, they will heal together, creating a sleek, taut appearance that will make it seem as though you never had a child. Of course, Dr. Zenn can also correct other post-pregnancy issues while fixing the diastasis recti, including removing leftover fat deposits with liposuction and trimming away any excess skin. Overall, the procedure will greatly improve both the aesthetic appearance and functionality of the belly for women post-pregnancy.


Unhappy with the appearance of your tummy?  Exercise and weight loss not helping the problem?

Find out whether you are a good candidate for a tummy tuck procedure.  Patients can contact Zenn Plastic Surgery online or by phone at (919) 480-3885 to schedule an initial consultation.