Part of a "Mommy Makeover", abdominoplasty (often called a "tummy tuck") is a procedure that can remove excess fat and skin from the lower abdomen, and if the abdominal muscles have been stretched or displaced; these can be tightened to help contour and reshape your abdomen and waistline.
Particularly after child birth, the soft tissues and muscles become "stretched out" and the abdominal contour you once had is gone. Not only pregnancy can affect your abdomen this way, but also weight gain/loss, surgeries such as bariatric surgery, and the presence of any previous trauma, hernias (umbilical and ventral e.g.).
Obviously it is best to seek this type of surgery after you are finished having children, and also it is always best to be in a situation where your are dieting and exercising such that your weight is stable and and excess pounds won't be put on; also this would benefit any post-op situation where your new shape could reasonably be expected to last.
Typically, the skin and fat between the navel and pubic area are removed and the scar can be placed along the natural line within the bikini line. The navel can also be repositioned. Depending on the individual situation, this procedure can be combined with liposuction and breast surgery ( such as breast augmentation, breast lift, etc.) Each patient's situation is different as to how much can be done at one time (this entails the patient's health, lifestyle situation, how much time for recovery and back to work issues, and cost.) I tell patients to prioritize their goals, and not get too hung up on trying to do everything at once.
For abdominoplasty I usually like to keep patients overnight in a facility (this can be factored into the cost for an outpatient facility) as I find that they are much better able to handle the post-op course after monitoring them closely after surgery, and being able to handle any immediate post-op pain and nausea. For the average patient, it will probably take 4-6 weeks before full vigorous physical activity is permitted. Often patients might return to work for a more sedentary type job in several weeks; but each situation varies.
There are more women that seek this procedure than men; however, I find that my male patients are also very enthusiastic with the improvement that can be obtained. A secondary benefit I have observed through the years is that patients report that their backs feel better and if they had back pain before, it is often improved (alert: insurance companies don't approve this procedure as a means to address back pain.) The basis of this improvement is that there is a lot of support for the back in the abdominal muscles, and when these are tightened, I have often seen patients note that their backs "feel better".
There is another procedure called: "panniculectomy" which is an excision of the excess fat and skin that may "hang down from the waist". This does not do anything to reshape the muscles,etc. and the goal is not one of attempting to "reshape" the abdomen as is done with a true abdominoplasty. It obviously can remove that "hanging apron of tissue" and that is helpful to many, especially since this tissue can interfere with wearing clothing, alleviate some of the sores that can develop under this tissue, and to limited extent improve appearance. Insurance companies I have found occasionally cover a panniculectomy, but in recent years this seems to be labeled "not a covered procedure or a policy exclusion" for many people.