Everything You Need To Know About “Quilted” Tummy Tucks, From The Experts

Tummy tucks ranked as one of the most popular cosmetic surgical procedures performed nationwide last year. Here at Donaldson Plastic Surgery, our surgeons performed more than 135 tummy tucks in 2020 alone! Tummy tucks create a beautiful new silhouette by removing excess skin and tightening the abdominal muscles, and new methods and modalities are emerging to improve the patient experience and recovery process. Dr. Donaldson explains one of these techniques: the “drainless” or (sometimes referred to as the “quilted”) tummy tuck.

Tummy tuck being performed
Dr. Donaldson and his surgical first assist, Bobbie, in the O.R.

What Does “Drainless” Mean?

The purpose of a tummy tuck drain

Commonly, tummy tucks will include a drain in the recovery process. This drain is tubing that is temporarily left in the abdominal cavity after surgery, meant to remove excess fluid in between the skin and muscle tissue. The production of liquid after a tummy tuck is expected due to the space created during surgery and the body’s natural response to injury (this is what happens when your body swells). The body can naturally absorb this liquid; however, since the tummy tuck results in more liquid than the body is used to, the drain is a helpful aid for the body’s recovery.

How a drainless tummy tuck is performed

In order to not use a drain, the surgeon must avoid leaving the space between the skin and the muscle tissue. This is typically done in combination with glue and a “quilted” suturing technique. Through quilting, the surgeon is able to distribute the liquid from the anticipated swelling evenly. This removes the tension from the incision while also closing the gap between the skin and the muscle tissue.

How can I go drainless? Is a drainless tummy tuck safe?

Drainless tummy tucks are completely safe when they are performed by an experienced, board-certified plastic surgeon. The recovery experience for both kinds of tummy tucks is generally the same. Your surgeon will recommend which route will be most beneficial for you, as there are benefits to both.

Pros and Cons of a Drainless Tummy Tuck


When pursuing a tummy tuck, the results are at the forefront in making your decision on which surgeon to choose. Drainless tummy tucks and traditional tummy tucks will produce the same results. You will also experience a similar timeline in terms of your recovery and when you will see your results.

Benefits of a drain

Drains have their own benefits as well. The purpose of a drain is to remove abdominal fluid, which will help to avoid any possible buildup that may occur with a drainless tummy tuck. If you experience buildup after a drainless tummy tuck, you will need to come into the office to have the area surgically drained. A drain might save you that trip into the office.

Benefits of a drainless tummy tuck

Both patients and surgeons alike may prefer a drainless tummy tuck for the following reasons:

It is important to note that there can be fluid buildup after a drainless tummy tuck. This is not uncommon, and in this case, the patient will need to come into the office for a physical exam and possible draining of the area. Wearing the provided compression garments is especially important for drainless tummy tuck patients to help avoid this fluid buildup and aid with the joining of the skin to the muscle tissue.

Dr. Donaldson surgical sutures
Dr. Donaldson suturing after surgery.

Your Drainless Tummy Tuck Experts in Columbus, OH

Some patients are better candidates than others for a drainless tummy tuck. The final decision to use or not use a drain will be left up to the surgeon that you choose, sometimes in the operating room. The surgical incision, size of the field, and amount of drainage that the patient is expected to produce are the main factors in determining if the surgeon will use a drain.

Your surgeon can review the benefits and disadvantages depending on your own individual needs. Your first step is to schedule a consultation to develop a customized treatment plan. Dr. Donaldson and Dr. Sieffert would love to meet with you to discuss a tummy tuck and if you would be a good candidate for drainless!

Schedule a Consultation!

Columbus, OH board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Jeffrey H. Donaldson answers your most personal and practical questions about the mommy makeover procedure.

What is a mommy makeover?

A mommy makeover is an umbrella term we use for any combination of surgeries that address the parts of the body most affected by pregnancy and childbirth. A typical mommy makeover may include any combination of:

Who is a good candidate for the mommy makeover procedure?

Any patient who is healthy, and has those typical anatomic changes that are associated with pregnancy. Those changes might include abdominal muscle separation, extra subcutaneous fat that may have lingered after childbirth, stretched skin, stretch marks, or a deformity or overlap at the point of their c-section scar.

Some women’s breasts may have been deflated through breastfeeding, which is characterized by a lack of fullness in the upper pole of the breast, or by a lack of cleavage line. A breast augmentation can provide roundness for someone whose breast tissue has fallen lower on their chest, or they may even benefit from a breast lift. There are also patients whose breast tissue tends to grow and enlarge after pregnancy, in which case a breast reduction with a lift might be necessary.

Patients who may have enlarged labia minora or the inner lips of their vaginal area may require tightening or reduction, which is commonly referred to as a labiaplasty.

Do I have to have kids in order to do a mommy makeover?

Not necessarily! The “mommy makeover” moniker is given because these changes are typical through pregnancy and childbirth, but similar changes can occur through massive weight change or weight loss, or just through our own genetics.

How long should I wait to get a mommy makeover after nursing?

I recommend waiting at least 6 months from the time you finish breastfeeding to pursue any form of breast procedure. Your breasts continue to change over time, and you can see residual deflation in months and years after. It is possible to have an operation that might have been different had the breast tissue been given time to settle back into its normal state after pregnancy.

Can you revise a c-section scar with mommy makeover?

Yes — that’s a part of a routine abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, which is a procedure usually part of a mommy makeover.

Mommy Makeover in Columbus Ohio

Why do you repair the abdominal muscles during a mommy makeover?

Often times during pregnancy, the rectus muscles of the abdomen (or the “six pack”) tend to spread apart. There’s a small tendon called the linea alba that brings those muscles together; during pregnancy that can stretch to the point where what used to be a flat floor is now rounded or somewhat soft, causing your abdominal muscles to separate and weaken. During a tummy tuck, sutures are used to bring the outer covering of those muscles back together and reconstruct that tendon down the middle, so those abdominal muscles are brought back side by side. Repairing this diastasis recti makes it possible to get back that nice flat core that existed before pregnancy.

How long is the recovery for a mommy makeover, on average?

It certainly depends on what kind of combination of procedures are chosen. Typically, if there is both a breast procedure and a tummy tuck, it’s usually anywhere from a week to two weeks away from ordinary responsibilities, and closer to a month to six weeks before any strenuous exercise.

What should I do to prepare for a mommy makeover?

Generally, it’s best for patients to be within 15 to 20 pounds of their natural realistic weight. Most people are, so as long as they’re within that zone, then it would be safe. Other than that, it’s a matter of good nutrition, good rest, exercise, and being physically and emotionally prepared for surgery.

Breast Implant Options

What kind of implants would you recommend for me?

Implant selection is a highly customized process where we discuss proportions, anatomy, goals, and desires. Most often, we use a round, smooth silicone implant of moderate or high profile. The size is generally determined by the patient’s measurements and their own goals in terms of size and shape.

What are the scars like typically for a mommy makeover?

It depends on what procedures are selected, but for a breast augmentation, there will be a very small fine scar, approximately one inch long that is hidden within the fold under the breast. A tummy tuck would be similarly smooth, and would run right below the bikini line above pubic area from hip to hip across the front of the abdomen. Generally tummy tuck scars are not carried out to the sides of the flanks.

Any liposuction would be done through very small, quarter-inch incisions that are well concealed. And then, of course, labiaplasty would be very minimal scarring, often completely free of any scar tissue.

Can I get a mommy makeover if I still want to have children?

Yes. However, if a patient is actively planning on having more kids, we generally counsel them to wait until they are finished. In the event that a patient would become pregnant after a mommy makeover, there may be some sort of touch up procedure necessary.

Mommy Makeover FAQs

Where do you perform mommy makeovers, and is an overnight stay required?

Mommy makeovers are outpatient procedures that we perform in an outpatient surgical center in the Columbus, Ohio area. No overnight is required, but for someone who lives out of state or has more complex medical concerns, overnights could always be arranged.

Is there a benefit to combining procedures with a mommy makeover?

If a patient knows that they want to have multiple procedures, then typically we will combine anything that can be done within a six-hour time frame. That is the point at which the risk curve tends to increase with more anesthesia. There is also an advantage in terms of only having a single recovery period, and it offers small financial advantages to combine multiple procedures.

What is the right age to get a mommy makeover?

There is no right age for a mommy makeover! Anyone over the age of 18 who has had children is usually a good candidate for a mommy makeover procedure. Genetics, health history, and background all play a role.

Why should I choose Donaldson Plastic Surgery for my mommy makeover?

The mommy makeover is what we are quite well-known for. A lot of patients trust us to do multiple procedures for them at the same time, and we have excellent outcomes. We consistently have patients rave about our staff, about our process, and about our results, and they tend to heal very well.

Interested in setting up a consultation with Dr. Donaldson or Dr. Sieffert for a mommy makeover?

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Important Considerations Before a Mommy Makeover Procedure - Columbus, OH - Donaldson Plastic Surgery

Pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding can change a woman’s body, making it hard to return to her pre-baby self. A mommy makeover typically describes a combination of a tummy tuck with a breast lift and sometimes liposuction, designed to counteract pregnancy’s effects on the body. While many women consider rejuvenating their bodies with a mommy makeover after having children, the decision to have plastic surgery should depend on your unique goals and situation. These are five questions you should ask yourself before scheduling this procedure.

Am I at a Healthy, Stable Weight?

It’s important for you to be at a healthy weight before having this procedure, since gaining weight can ruin the effects of the surgery. Before moving forward, you should attain a comfortable weight through diet and exercise and maintain the weight loss for at least six months.

Am I Done Having Children?

Because the weight gain of pregnancy would disrupt the results of a mommy makeover, it’s important to have a conversation with your partner first to make sure you’re happy with the size of your family before having this surgery.

Am I Still Breastfeeding?

If you have recently had a baby and are still breastfeeding, then you should postpone the procedure until several months after the infant weans. This gives your body time to recover before the stress of surgery and prevents complications such as excess bleeding.

Am I Able to Take the Time I Need to Recover?

After having an abdominoplasty and breast lift, it’s important to rest for several weeks so the body can heal. This means no household chores, no work outside the home, and no lifting children. You should make sure to have a support system in place for recovery before having the procedure.

Why Do I Want to Have Plastic Surgery?

In addition to practical preparation, it’s critical to be emotionally prepared for this major physical change. You should opt for a mommy makeover because of a desire to look and feel your best for yourself, not because of pressure from a partner or judgment from external sources.

If you have examined these questions and feel ready for a mommy makeover, you can consult with Dr. Donaldson to create a personalized surgical plan. Our website features testimonials from real women in the Columbus area who have had positive experiences with Donaldson Plastic Surgery. Call our office today at (614) 442-7610.

Tummy tuck, liposuction and breast lift (with or without breast augmentation) are all considered part of a mommy makeover.

Mommy Makeover Columbus OhioPregnancy and breastfeeding lead to very predictable physical changes for many women: abdominal bulging, belly button distortion, stretch marks, love handles and deflated breasts. The mommy makeover treats each of these problem areas. The tummy tuck flattens the abdominal bulge and allows the “six-pack” to emerge. It also refines the belly button into a more attractive shape and position, and it eliminates all stretch marks that occur between the belly button and the pubic area. Liposuction removes the love handles and provides a more feminine, curvy “hourglass” shape above the hips. The breast lift elevates sagging nipples and skin, and is often combined with breast augmentation using implants to create more fullness and cleavage.

You’ve put so much into your children that it’s often difficult to find time for yourself. Good nutrition and regular exercise are important, but they usually don’t fully correct the bulging, sagging and stretching — these corrections require plastic surgery. Mommy Makeover procedures are safe and very effective for restoring pre-pregnancy contours; they can be done separately, or at the same time in one operation. You should wait at least six months between your last pregnancy or breastfeeding and your surgery date, and if you become pregnant again after surgery, you might need a touch-up.

mommy makeover in Columbus' Capital Style
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Columbus, Ohio women seek Dr. Donaldson’s advice about how to restore their bodies after having children. It is a team effort between patient and surgeon. Dr. Donaldson works one on one with you, listening to your goals and discussing your concerns. Together, you will develop a personalized plan to give you the body you’re ready to reclaim. Visit Donaldson Plastic Surgery, Columbus, OH, for the latest techniques and beautiful, natural results.

At 19, Tarah Carr had it all. She recently married her high school sweetheart, Adam, a U.S. Army Green Beret, and gave birth to a beautiful healthy boy, Noah. By her own admission, she should have been happy. Instead, she felt very self-conscious. At 5’2, Carr weighed 162 pounds.

With her husband routinely traveling for work, she sunk into spiraling depression. She rarely left the house. It was time for a change. It was time for a mommy makeover. Through diet and exercise, she lost 49Ibs in 90 days dropping from a size 14 to 3.* Her confidence sizzled, and yet she had come as far as she could on her own. It was time for the finishing touches and she called the office of Dr. Jeffrey Donaldson, a Columbus, Ohio plastic surgeon.

In her blog Tarah openly discusses why she flew from her home in Japan to Donaldson Plastic Surgery to get a breast augmentation with silicone implants, a mastopexy (breast lift) and an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck). She notes that he publishes scholarly articles, completed prestigious fellowship programs, teaches medical students, serves as media consultant for top news programs, and even played college football. Tarah wanted the best possible surgeon and outcome, and she felt that selecting Dr. Donaldson was an easy choice.

Today, at 105Ibs, Tarah is a size 00, and is featured on numerous successful workout video series. Her newfound confidence and look has also led to magazine features and infomercials. She credits most of her success to hard work and a little help from her favorite plastic surgeon: Dr. Donaldson!

“This was a personal decision.” Tarah summarized, “ A cosmetic decision. A confidence decision. One of the best one’s I’ve ever made.”


**Note: Patient results will vary. All of the above claims are based on the accounts of this specific patient and their mommy makeover experience, before and after the surgery.  Testimonials or statements made by any person(s) within this site are not intended guarantee outcomes.


Mommy Makeover Columbus, Ohio - Donaldson Plastic SurgeryA mommy makeover can help you reclaim your body after pregnancy. Generally, this term refers to any combination of procedures that helps to address areas of the body that are affected by the process of pregnancy and childbirth. It commonly includes a tummy tuck, breast augmentation, breast lift, labiaplasty and liposuction around the midsection or thighs.

Because there is no set number of procedures included in a mommy makeover, there is also no set recovery time. A patient who has breast augmentation and labiaplasty may recover much more quickly than a patient who undertakes tummy tuck, liposuction of the flanks and thighs and breast lifting at the same time. Each person recovers differently and recovery times vary.

Most patients recover within two to six weeks. Factors such as the number and pattern of procedures, individual anatomy, age and weight, physical fitness, pain tolerance, medical condition, post-operative behavior and healing complications will all influence the speed of recovery. Patients often  taper off prescription pain medications after a long weekend and try to return to work within a week or two. It can take several months before recovery is completely finished and normal activities resume “without thinking about it.”

The importance of choosing the right surgeon and staff cannot be underestimated when determining recovery.  Dr. Donaldson uses a gentle surgical approach and minimally-invasive methods  to minimize discomfort and maximize healing.  His compassionate staff has many years of experience taking care of patients, and they will “hold your hand” throughout the entire process. Post-operative instructions will be very clear, and an open dialogue is encouraged. Together, the surgeon, the staff and you will closely monitor your results so that you  start feeling like your best self as soon as possible.

Call Donaldson Plastic Surgery today to discuss your options for a mommy makeover. We are ready to help you start looking and feeling your best!

A mommy makeover typically encompasses several operations, such as a tummy tuck, liposuction, labiaplasty, breast lift, and breast augmentation. Many patients elect to have a combination of these procedures performed at the same time to decrease cost and to enjoy a single recovery period.  This approach is usually quite safe, but it is not for every patient.  It is critical to discuss the pros and cons with your board-certified plastic surgeon.

Age, fitness level, smoking status, medications, previous operations and previous medical conditions are strongly considered when deciding how much surgery to perform at one time.  Many surgeons and anesthesiologists prefer not to surpass six hours of general anesthesia in an elective outpatient setting.

The estimated amount of liposuction and the scale of each individual procedure must be factored as well.  The surgical team uses these parameters to evaluate each patient’s fluid requirements, breathing abilities and need for pain medications.

At Donaldson Plastic Surgery, our team will evaluate your pre-operative status and discuss all your options with you. A safe procedure with great results is our top priority!

Best Time for Mommy Makeover - Donaldson Plastic SurgeryPregnancy and childbirth are usually among the most momentous events in any mother’s life—emotionally, but often physically as well. After having a baby, it’s common to want to get back to a former weight and wardrobe; however, the transformation back to normalcy takes patience and time. While many new mothers are eager to achieve a pre-pregnancy body, the timing of a mommy makeover is important.

To optimize the results of plastic surgery, it is important to wait for approximately six months after giving birth. Some surgeons would consider operating after three months, and others recommend a full nine months to give hormones a chance to return to normal levels. Regardless of the exact timeframe, it is prudent to give a new mother’s body a chance to recover from pregnancy and childbirth so that surgical goals may be precisely calculated. Women who are breastfeeding should similarly wait for several months after weaning their babies. This delay allows breasts to stop producing milk and to finalize their “new normal” shape.

Parents should consider whether they plan to have more children. Mothers who anticipate future pregnancy despite having plastic surgery should expect a surgical revision at some point. For durable, long-lasting results, patients are advised to complete childbearing before proceeding with a mommy makeover.

Surgery can be immensely helpful to a young mom’s sense of self and confidence, and it often takes tremendous patience to wait until the circumstances are right.

After giving birth, many women struggle with their appearance and consequently, their self-confidence. A mommy makeover is a plastic surgical approach to the breasts and body which restore form and bring sexy back!


Frustration with Natural Results

Many women feel less attractive after pregnancy. Most turn to diet and exercise to shed excess weight, but these steps do not address loose skin, stubborn fat, stretched labia or sagging breasts. While some women are blessed with the enviable genetic ability to “rebound” as if it never happened, most struggle with lingering problem areas. When a mother sees partial progress from nutrition and fitness, but is still unhappy with specific parts of the body, a mommy makeover might be worth it!

Components of a Mommy Makeover

A mommy makeover is a catch-all term for several different procedures rolled into one. This surgery can include one or more of the following:

These treatments target the areas of the body that are most commonly affected by pregnancy, delivery, and breastfeeding.

The Benefits

A mommy makeover combines procedures into a single operation to reduce overall cost and minimize recovery time.  This leads to a faster return to work and to parenting (also known as work).

Mothers may consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon to determine whether a mommy makeover is the right solution.