The tummy tuck or abdominoplasty happens to be one of the newer procedures in the history of plastic surgery. The word plastic comes from the Greek word plastikos meaning to mold or shape something, but the history of plastic surgery goes back as far as 4000 years. Well before the time of the Greeks plastic surgery became common place in ancient India before it traveled among the Persians and Arabs to Egypt and then to the Greek and Roman empires respectively. Although the history of plastic surgery goes this far back, the abdominoplasty procedure came about in the late 19th century.
The first tummy tuck procedures were innovated to help with massive umbilical hernias which also involved an extremely large abdominal pannus or skin flap. The skin flap was removed to facilitate repairing of the umbilical hernias. The beneficial effects of the removal of the abdominal pannus to the appearance of the patient quickly caught on as did other forms of body contouring which became quite popular in the 1890s and the early 20th century.
The first tummy tuck was called a dermolipectomy and it was performed in 1890 by doctors Demars and Marx in France. The first abdominoplasty in the United States took place at John's Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. A gynecologic surgeon named Kelly called the procedure a transverse abdominal lipectomy, but the transverse nature of the incisions followed by the complete removal of the abdominal pannus caused the patient to lose their belly button. By 1905 back in France, doctors Gaudet and Morestin succeeded in the first abdominal lipectomy that preserved the belly button. In 1909, a doctor Weinhold in Germany made use of vertical and horizontal flap incisions to completely avoid removal of the belly button during the tummy tuck procedure.
Following the two world wars of the 20th century, the field of plastic surgery, especially reconstructive, advanced considerably. This advancement also had an effect on the technology available to perform the abdominoplasty. The earlier advent of proper sterilization and anesthesia allowed patients in the 1970s and 1980s to take advantage of advanced cosmetic surgery technology to treat certain conditions such as a massive abdominal pannus resulting from being overweight or having a large pregnancy.
Today, the modern tummy tuck utilizes limited incisions to remove larger C-section scars, tighten the abdominal muscles, remove excess abdominal skin and place the belly button exactly where it should be.