According to a new 16-year analysis in the January issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS), the tummy tuck continues to be a safe and effective procedure. More cases are being done on an outpatient basis and accompanying liposuction is more frequently used. The journal is published in the Lippincott portfolio of Wolters Kluwer.
„Our study uses data submitted by US-licensed plastic surgeons for quality improvement and provides new insights on the evolution of the tummy tuck technique.“
Michael J. Stein, MD, MAS, FRCSC, FACS, lead author from Lenox Hill Hospital, New York, NY
Changes in Techniques and Outcomes of Tummy Tuck from 2005 to 2021
The tummy tuck—sometimes referred to as abdominoplasty—is a cosmetic surgical procedure to improve the appearance of the abdomen. In 2022, ASPS member surgeons performed nearly 162,000 tummy tuck procedures according to ASPS statistics.
To assess the development of practice patterns and surgical techniques, Dr. Stein and colleagues analyzed data from the American Board of Plastic Surgery’s (ABPS) Continuous Certification process. In this process, plastic surgeons submit information on specific „tracer“ procedures as evidence of ongoing improvement in clinical practice.
The researchers analyzed data from 8,990 abdominoplasty cases submitted between 2005 and 2021 by 390 ABPS-certified plastic surgeons. To assess trends over time, the cases were divided into early (2005–14) and current (2015–21) cohorts.
During the study period, the rate of outpatient tummy tucks without hospitalization increased from 77% to 81%; Heparin was used more extensively to prevent blood clot-related complications. Patients treated in recent years were more likely to undergo multiple surgical procedures, particularly liposuction for fat reduction in the abdominal tissue flaps.
„Abdominoplasty Remains a Safe and Reliable Procedure“
Other technical changes included a reduced use of wide tissue undermining, vertical plicature of the abdomen, and postoperative use of surgical drainages—although all these techniques continued to be used in most cases of tummy tucks. The researchers note that while the observed changes are statistically significant, they are „best regarded as positive or negative practice trends between cohorts and not as clinically significant changes in practice.“
„Abdominoplasty remains a safe and reliable procedure throughout the study period, with a slight but statistically significant decrease in adverse events in the most recent cohort,“ conclude Dr. Stein and his co-authors. „Careful preoperative assessment of patients should identify risk factors that increase the likelihood of complications.“
Lead author and former ASPS President Dr. Alan Matarasso of Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital has contributed to similar reviews, using ABPS Continuous Certification data for other „tracer“ procedures—most recently including a report on trends in cosmetic breast augmentation. Co-authors include Dr. Arun Gosain and Peter Rubin.
Dr. Matarasso comments, „While not without potential sources of bias, the use of ABPS Continuous Certification data—with mandatory reporting on a large number of common procedures by state-licensed plastic surgeons—offers unique insights into trends in surgical practice and benchmarks to inform further efforts to enhance safety and quality.“
Stein, MJ, et al. (2024). Clinical practice patterns in abdominoplasty: a 16-year analysis of Continuous Certification data from the American Board of Plastic Surgery. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. doi.org/10.1097/PRS.0000000000010500.