4 min read

Common tummy tuck jargon made simple

23 Feb

A tummy tuck gives a whole new look to a body by making the abdomen flat and firm. It can also restore the youthful look after pregnancy, childbirth and weight loss. If you’re looking at having this procedure done, you’ve probably come across a lot of jargon during your research and it may have left you wondering things like “What do aprons have to do with it?” “Is the Compression Garment comfortable?” “What is a Drain Tube?” In this blog I’ll explain the most common terms and their meanings.



A term used to describe loose stomach skin that overhangs the bikini line. Is common in patients that have lost a large amount of weight or after pregnancy or following a surgical procedure such as Gastric Banding or a Gastric Sleeve. The term ‘ectomy’ in Apron-ectomy means surgical removal of the loose stomach skin.


Abdominal Binder

Is a post-surgical garment that wraps around the tummy to compress and support it. Used to minimise swelling and assists skin in keeping its new shape. It also supports your back. Not the most comfortable but it is essential and can be discontinued a few weeks following surgery.



The medical term for a Tummy Tuck.


Compression Garment

A compression garment is made up of special material that offers a physiological range of uniform compression that helps reduction of swelling and improves healing. Recommended for 6 weeks post surgery. Some patients like it so much that they continue to wear it for a bit longer.


Drain Tubes

After surgery, your surgeon will insert two small tubes attached to fluid collection bulbs that sit outside of your body. These tubes constantly drain and reduce the amount of fluid build up inside the area that was operated on. The bulbs are emptied several times a day, and the amount of fluid is measured. Drains typically stay in for three to five days. In certain cases they may need to stay in longer. Antibiotics are necessary while drains are in.


Dog Ears

Excessive flappy bits of skin that are common at the ends of the scar. Patients may require a minor surgical procedure to remove them if they do not resolve completely within 6 months.



The scar from the incision. One of the biggest concerns most patients have is whether the scarring from the procedure will be visible afterwards.


Hip to hip scar:

Refers to the scar which runs from one hip to the other hip. In most cases the scar is low enough that it will not show in a bathing suit. If the operation is performed after massive weight loss another scar in the middle of the abdomen may be necessary in addition to the hip to hip scar.



A shortened version of the word ‘liposuction’. Lipo is a cosmetic surgery procedure designed to remove extra fat and can be combined with a tummy tuck for better contouring as patients who have excess skin, have excess fat.


Muffin top

Colloquial term used to describe the fat that overhangs the top of the pants.


Muscle separation (divarication of rectus muscle)

The stretching and separation of the ‘six pack’, two vertical muscles which run the length of your abdomen. Muscle separation is common in women during pregnancy and also in cases where the patient has gained a large amount of weight. Muscle separation may remain symptom free or create a bulge. Patients who have a wide muscle separation often complain that they cannot do sit ups.


Muscle tightening

As well as removing excess skin and fat, the surgery tightens the separated ‘six pack’ muscles. This creates a smoother, flatter abdomen that supports and stabilises your spine. The improvement in back pain following abdominoplasty is due to this effect.


Seroma and haematoma

Seroma is the medical term for a build up of fluid in the area that has been operated on. Haematoma, or hematoma, is the medical term for a build up of blood in an area. Both conditions are treated by drainage. For precision the drain is inserted by visualising the seroma on Ultrasound or CT Scan



Post surgical swelling is common and can last up to 6 weeks following surgery.



An abbreviation for ‘Tummy Tuck’.


I hope you found this article helpful in making sense of the tummy tuck jargon out there. Remember, if you’re unsure of anything consult your plastic surgeon. They are there to answer all of your questions and ensure that you feel prepared and ready to have the surgery.


If you’d like to receive a mix of articles related to how you can look your best, I invite you to subscribe to my blog, The Cosmetic Surgery Insider. There I cover a range of topics on nutrition, cosmetic surgery, skin care and non-surgical cosmetic procedures. It’s free and you’ll receive the articles straight to your inbox each week. Rest assured your email address will remain confidential and you can unsubscribe at any time.


New Call-to-action 

Topics: Body
Dr Naveen Somia MBBS, PhD, FRACS

Written by Dr Naveen Somia MBBS, PhD, FRACS

Dr. Naveen Somia is a Sydney Plastic Surgeon who listens to his patients, understands their problems and works alongside them to help achieve their aesthetic goals by applying his skills and years of experience in Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery. A published author on Plastic and Cosmetic Surgery, Naveen’s blog is aimed at helping you make the right choices and stay safe in your quest to look your personal best.