Tummy Tuck Surgery: Details that Make a Difference

By Sherri Roberts Lopez

In plastic surgery speak, it’s called looking at the “entire anatomical unit.” For a patient, it’s an important concept that can make a big difference in how satisfied you feel with your new look after having tummy tuck surgery. Simply put, you want your sleek, firm, rejuvenated abdominal appearance to visually harmonize with the rest of your body.

Houston plastic surgeon Dr. Chris Patronella commented, “During pregnancy, many different areas in addition to the abdomen experience stretching, including the hips, waist, and mons (the upper portion of the pubic mound beneath the belly button). If you are not attentive to the areas that are adjacent to the abdomen, the tummy tuck can look artificial.”

You might be surprised to know a stretched-out mons—a commonly-overlooked detail of an abdominoplasty procedure—is one of the top complaints that compel women to seek tummy tuck revision surgery with Dr. Patronella. After undergoing their initial tummy tucks, they are distressed to see a noticeable contrast between their taut abdomens next to the pillowy fullness of an untreated mons that would have benefited from the removal of  loose skin and excess fat.

About four out every five of Dr. Patronella’s tummy tuck patients also have liposuction to improve the shape of the waist, hips, and other areas, while others also require the removal of loose skin from these regions to create firm, smooth contours that blend with appearance of the abdomen.

Dr. Patronella noted, “My objective is to make the results look completely natural, so that—if a person didn’t see the scar—you wouldn’t know it was surgical.”

A Woman’s Perspective
By Sherri Roberts

For those of us who work with cosmetic plastic surgery patients, a new study which reports the combination of tummy tuck surgery and liposuction has a soaring satisfaction rate of more than 99 percent comes as no surprise.

Almost without exception, Dr. Patronella’s patients who undergo this procedure combination express unabashed elation about their new look.Though they expected to feel better about the way they look in and out of clothes, they often are amazed at how far-reaching this positive aesthetic change translates to their self-image and zest for life.

As Gail, age 54, a teacher and mother of two college students noted, “I’ve always been a confident person—I was a ballerina in high school, so I had good posture, a proportionate body, and I carried extra weight well.” But despite working out, she still had loose abdominal skin and a tummy pooch, and she wanted to be “smaller and more lifted.”

After making the decision to have tummy tuck surgery with Dr. Patronella to restore the svelte contour of her abdomen, along with breast surgery and a body lift to obtain a firmer, shapelier appearance in areas that had begun to sag due to the effects of childbirth, aging, and gravity, Gail said, “ I now have a better body than I did before having children!”

The change, she commented, has been life-changing in a lot of subtle ways, “It’s the confidence you have when you walk into a room,” men approaching her to strike up a conversation when she goes out, and the fun of shopping for clothes that you know you’re going to look smashing in. “I have a spectacular, new wardrobe with more fitted and stylish clothes, whereas, before, everything I wore was loose and flowy,” she said.

Like Gail, 86 percent of the 360 patients who took part in the study, which was published in the April 2012 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, said they experienced a boost in self-esteem, and 70 percent reported a higher quality of life after surgery. And if they had it to do all over again, would they? A resounding 98 percent responded, “Yes!” And  99 percent would recommend it to others.

Gail agreed, “I had a good life before surgery, but this change just enhanced it and made  it even greater.”

A tummy tuck is major surgery that involves numerous components to achieve high-quality aesthetic results and the safest possible outcome for the patient. These elements will be reflected in the price you pay, so be wary of using cost as the sole criterion that influences your decision. A reputable, skilled plastic surgeon will not cut corners to save costs at the expense of compromising your health and aesthetic results.

Dr. Patronella noted, “A proper tummy tuck requires a significant amount of skill to perform. Cost is an understandably important consideration to weigh in making the decision to pursue cosmetic plastic surgery. But if the price of having a well-done procedure is prohibitive, it would be best to either reconsider or wait to have it done until it is feasible.”

The advent of companies such as Care Credit and M-Lend have made this a more viable option for many. By offering financing plans for tummy tuck surgery and other elective procedures, these companies break the total cost down into affordable monthly payments, similar to the process one may use to purchase a car.

In evaluating the price of tummy tuck surgery, carefully investigate the following aspects that comprise the entire experience:

  • The qualifications and skillfulness of the doctor and surgical staff
  • The professionalism of the staff and support personnel
  • The comfort and attention to detail you receive from the staff
  • The quality and safety of the surgeon’s office and surgery center
  • The care you receive before, during, and after surgery
  • Your surgical result

Dr. Patronella uses only board certified anesthesiologists to administer anesthesia and monitor patients, and he performs surgery in a private surgical facility that is licensed and accredited—a label which indicates adequate emergency equipment and procedural protocols are in place, and the doctor is properly trained in the procedures he performs. While these measures add to the expense of having surgery, they help to ensure the safest possible conditions are provided for patients.

Oftentimes, fees that are quoted do not include all the costs that are associated with the procedure, which can make it difficult to accurately compare and assess the true value. The $9200 starting price for tummy tuck surgery with Dr. Patronella is comprehensive and includes all of the costs associated with the procedure, including:

  • The surgeon’s fee
  • The anesthesiologist’s fee
  • The surgical facility fee
  • A pain pump to alleviate discomfort during recovery
  • Compression garments to reduce swelling
  • An overnight stay in one of Dr. Patronella’s private surgery center’s four private post-operative recovery suites, where you will be carefully monitored by Dr. Patronella’s caring, well-trained staff of registered nurses
  • A visit to your home on the day following surgery from a certified medical professional who will monitor your recovery, change your dressings, assist you with medications, and provide Dr. Patronella with an update on your recovery
  • Follow-up visits
  • Supplemental vitamins to support your healing and recovery
  • Postsurgical therapeutic massage with a licensed massage therapist
  • A microdermabrasion or chemical peel skin care treatment to smooth and brighten facial skin

Each component has been included in order to optimize the aesthetic outcome, safety, comfort, and recovery of patients to provide them with an exceptional level of attentive service. This has proven to be an invaluable source of reassurance and comfort to patients, who appreciate that every detail of their care has been carefully planned and carried out to ensure their experience is as smooth, satisfying and rewarding as the new look they receive.


As Dr. Patronella's patient coordinator for nearly 20 years, Eva Cadena will work with you to ensure that your experience is professional, courteous, and rewarding in every way. Please call her with any questions you may have.

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Houston, TX 77024

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