Abdominoplasty, otherwise known as tummy tuck, restores tone, contour, and function to the abdomen.
Why Dr. John Q. Cook Is the Right Body Surgeon for You
Dr. Cook has extensive experience with this procedure and has performed over 1000 abdominoplasties. He can individualize his selection of techniques to each patient’s unique goals and needs.
Dr. Cook’s life-long study of aesthetics allows him to sculpt beautiful and natural-looking results with any body shape.
Our internal protocols minimize the use of drains and narcotics.
We offer our abdominoplasty patients the ability to recover in a luxury hotel with personal care from our experienced nurse. This enables us to increase the safety and efficacy of the recovery period.
Education and Credentials
Awards and Recognition
REAL PATIENT RESULTS
See the difference experience makes. Scroll through before and afters in the photo carousel of tummy tuck patients treated by Dr. Cook and his team.
Restore Tone, Contour, and Function to the Abdomen with an Abdominoplasty in Chicago and Winnetka
In 25 years of practice, Dr. John Cook has developed a reputation for his innovative techniques that refine and rejuvenate the form of the body in ways that preserve each patient’s unique natural identity. He offers body contouring with tummy tuck at his Chicago and Winnetka centers to help patients achieve a more proportioned figure and improved self-confidence.
A tummy tuck—also known as an abdominoplasty—is a powerful surgery. Once an operation that was merely concerned with tightening skin, the tummy tuck has advanced to a point where it allows for individualized solutions for many different body types. The shape of the abdomen prior to a tummy tuck reflects each person’s genetic predisposition, previous habits of nutrition and exercise, and major life events, such as pregnancy and large weight fluctuations. The shape of the abdomen after a tummy tuck is similarly determined by each patient’s subsequent choices and life events, as well as Dr. Cook’s choice of technique.
There Is No Single Technical Solution to Abdominal Contouring
For a tummy tuck to be successful, Dr. Cook must first analyze the different components that shape the abdomen: skin tone, fat distribution, strength of the abdominal muscles, and intra-abdominal fat. Each of these components will vary with the individual tummy tuck patient, so it follows that there is no single technical solution. Dr. Cook serves his patients best by having a variety of techniques ready to address individual body form variations.
Any plastic surgeon offering tummy tuck surgery must first gain an understanding of the events that brought a specific abdomen to its current shape. Has the patient gained or lost significant weight, and, if so, how many pounds does the weight fluctuate? Was there one major fluctuation or many? What is the patient’s pattern of exercise? For women, have there been any pregnancies, or are any pregnancies planned for the future?
Dr. John Q. Cook and his entire team at the Whole Beauty® Institute are committed to a holistic approach to body contour surgery. If we understand the circumstances that brought the patient to his or her current shape we will be able to design a custom plan in which individualized surgery—including tummy tuck—nutrition, and exercise unite to provide an optimum long-term result.
What Makes a Good Tummy Tuck Candidate?
People come to see Dr. John Q. Cook at the Whole Beauty® Institute for tummy tuck consultations for a variety of reasons.
Changes After Pregnancy
Perhaps the most common reason that people come to us for a tummy tuck is to correct the changes in the tone and shape of the abdomen that have come about as a result of pregnancy.
Some women are fortunate in this regard: They can carry several pregnancies, yet the abdomen returns to its original shape after each one. A more common pattern is that the skin, fascia, and deep muscle support of the abdomen lose their tone for good. Positive habits—such as maintaining proper nutrition and exercise—are always helpful, but may be insufficient to restore a beautiful abdominal contour.
Women with post-pregnancy changes are typically delighted by the improvements that result from a tummy tuck. The tone of the skin and the mid-level fascia of the abdomen are restored, zones of excess fat are contoured, and the abdominal muscles are returned to a position of optimum function.
Since the breasts are often altered by pregnancy as well, many patients who come to us for a tummy tuck are also interested in surgery to restore breast tone, position, and volume. To help with this, a breast lift, breast augmentation, or breast reduction can be combined as part of a Mommy Makeover. For convenience, the breast procedures and tummy tuck can often be combined into a single operation.
We recommend that a woman have a tummy tuck only when she is fairly certain that there will not be any future pregnancies, since the stretching of the abdomen that comes about as a result of pregnancy will undo a good portion of the benefits of a tummy tuck surgery.
Changes After Previous Surgery of the Abdomen
There are patients who experience a significant loss of deep structural support after they have undergone hysterectomy, caesarian section, or other abdominal surgeries. These patients frequently remark that they are unable to maintain their previous abdominal tone despite a strict regimen of sit-ups and other abdominal exercises.
The problem may be a widening of the space between the rectus muscles (diastasis) or a more general loss of support. Very often, the three-layer repair that occurs with the high lateral tension abdominoplasty can restore good tone to the abdomen.
There are often powerful physical benefits for these tummy tuck patients, since the abdominal musculature is intimately involved in posture and back comfort. Using a tummy tuck to restore the normal dynamic balance of the abdominal muscles significantly improves the patient’s quality of life.
Tummy Tuck to Correct Abdominal Scars
It may be possible to remove or diminish scars from previous abdominal surgery when Dr. Cook performs a tummy tuck. The amount of skin removed during a tummy tuck varies from patient to patient. In some patients, there is sufficient looseness to the lower abdomen that all of the skin below the umbilicus is removed. Any scar that exists in this area will also be removed.
Tummy Tuck for Patients With Significant Weight Loss
We also see quite a few patients who were once heavy, but who have successfully lost significant amounts of weight as a result of improved nutrition and exercise habits. Some patients come to us for a tummy tuck after they have undergone bariatric surgery in order to lose weight.
Patients who have lost a large amount of weight are often frustrated by the poor tone and loose skin that remain in the abdomen despite their very best efforts to get rid of it. They are disappointed that beyond a certain point, the abdomen may be thinner, but actually look worse as the overhang of the skin becomes more pronounced.
For these patients, a tummy tuck can serve as a wonderful reward for their efforts. When a beautiful shape is restored to the abdomen with tummy tuck surgery, it can serve as a powerful motivator to maintain healthy habits of nutrition and exercise.
Tummy Tuck After Liposuction
Poor tone of the skin and intermediate layers of the abdomen may also exist in a patient who has undergone overly aggressive liposuction.
Some surgeons seem to feel that liposuction is a contest to see how much fat can be removed. This is typically not a contest in which the patient wins! The primary purpose of any surgical fat reduction (classical, ultrasonic, Vaser®, or any other variety) is to obtain a beautiful contour.
When a significant amount of fat is removed—and nothing else is done—the result will almost always be disappointing. Although the bulk of the fat will be reduced, the skin will now hang loose.
Patients who experience this sort of post-procedural looseness in the abdomen or in other regions can be restored to balance with a well-performed tummy tuck or other body contouring procedure.
Tummy Tuck for Patients With Excess Mid-Body Fat and Loose Skin
Patients who have a relative excess of fat in the mid-body regions (the abdomen, flanks, and hips) and who have diminished skin tone are particularly well-served by the combination of liposuction with removal of excess skin from the lower abdomen.
Dr. Cook provides several versions of this tummy tuck combination, but all are influenced by the basic concept of the high lateral tension technique: Limited skin undermining (other than in zones that are to be removed) allows for liposuction to be carried out with a reasonable level of safety. Patients with a classic mid-body excess may be very trim in other areas, such as the arms, legs, and face, so a midbody sculpting of this nature can restore a pleasing artistic balance to their physical form.
Dr. Cook carefully examines prospective tummy tuck patients with mid-body excess to determine whether the true problem is intra-abdominal fat, since this must be addressed with diet and exercise.
Tummy Tuck for Patients Who Have Gradually Lost Abdominal Tone
The abdomen is not immune to the forces of time and gravity. There are some tummy tuck patients who come to us who have maintained a trim physique and good nutritional habits, but who experience a gradual loss of abdominal tone, sometimes over several decades. The situation is similar to that of the patient who seeks a facelift due to a loss of tone in the cheeks, or a breast lift due to a gradual settling of the breast. Surgical rejuvenation of abdominal tone with a tummy tuck can be very beneficial for these patients.
Tummy Tucks for a Variety of Physiques
A tummy tuck can be applied to men and women with a variety of physiques. One particular type of patient who deserves special consideration is the woman with a fuller, curvaceous body who is pleased with her lines—except for those of the abdomen. This is often because the abdomen has been stretched out by the cycle of pregnancy. With the high lateral tension technique, it is possible to bring the abdomen into artistic balance with the rest of the body.
Tummy Tuck for Men
With the increasing emphasis on physical fitness in our county, a growing number of men seek abdominal contour surgery, including tummy tuck. One common situation is a man who starts an exercise program and achieves a higher level of fitness and muscle tone, but who finds his abdominal skin gets looser as he loses abdominal fat. In this patient, an abdominoplasty can restore an athletic physique.
The Three Goals of Tummy Tuck Surgery
When Dr. Cook performs your individualized analysis, he will do so with three goals in mind.
Tummy Tucks Restore and Optimize Tone
Each abdomen is toned differently. Dr. Cook will carefully analyze the tone of the different regions of the abdomen, flanks, waist, and hips, since this will influence aspects of the tummy tuck technique. The surgical approach will be different for a person whose main concern is a loss of tone in the lower central abdomen than for a person who has loose skin that extends around the waist and even into the back area.
The tone of the deep fascia and muscles of the abdomen is also very important. Pregnancy or large weight fluctuations may cause the deep anchors of the sit-up muscles to give way, so that the muscles drift away from the midline. This is known as diastasis.
Patients may notice a gap in the central abdomen when their muscles tighten during sit-ups. Unfortunately, no amount of exercise can correct this gap. As the muscles drift to the sides, patients often experience a sensation that the abdomen is not fully supported. Often, an excess curvature of the lumbar spine (lordosis) will develop, which in turn produces back discomfort. A well-performed tummy tuck can help to correct this.
While the tummy tuck procedure will help the tone of the core muscles, there is much that each patient can do to prepare the muscle and deep breast layers for the procedure—and to maintain the long-term benefits of the surgery. We will help you to design a program of core muscle strengthening to prepare you for your tummy tuck, since this will give Dr. Cook the best structure to work with and also make your recovery much easier. A balanced exercise program will help you to maintain an optimum result.
Tummy Tucks Restore and Optimize Contour
Many tummy tuck techniques leave the patient with an abdomen that is tight in the middle but loose on the sides. The overall visual effect is disappointing in a way that is similar to that achieved by facial skin that is pulled tight in the wrong direction.
In order to avoid this problem, Dr. Cook uses a variation of the high lateral tension tummy tuck technique as pioneered by Dr. Ted Lockwood. With this technique, the distribution of tone is shifted in an oblique direction with significant benefits to the flanks, waist, and upper thighs.
Learn More About High Lateral Tension Abdominoplasty
The fat of the abdomen, which lies between the skin and the deep fascia and muscles, is arranged into a number of compartments. The relative distribution of fat in these compartments varies from person to person and is largely influenced by genetics, as well as by whether that person was heavyset in his or her early years. An accurate map of these compartments will serve as a guide for their sculpting during the tummy tuck.
It is important to note that some tummy tuck techniques do not allow for liposuction to be carried out with safety during the procedure. This will significantly limit the power of the result. The high lateral tension technique maintains adequate blood supply to the undermined area of the abdomen, so that liposuction can be an integral part of the tummy tuck.
The tone of the deep fascia and muscles of the abdominal wall (the rectus and oblique muscles) manifests itself in the external shape of the abdomen. The beautiful contours of the mid body of a well-trained athlete are a direct result of the superb tone and function of the abdominal muscles. A more comic example is seen in the cartoon of the out-of-shape middle aged man at the beach who tightens up his abdominal muscles when a beautiful woman walks by.
We have already discussed how the tone of the abdomen is disrupted when a diastasis or gap develops between the sit-up muscles in the midline. Surgical repair of this disruption will actually tighten the waist and provide more of an “hourglass” figure.
One common shortcut of certain tummy tuck techniques is a tightening of the muscles below the umbilicus, but a disregard for the muscles above the umbilicus. This reduces the work for the surgeon—but at a distinct cost to the long-term tummy tuck result. Almost without exception, if the lower abdomen is tightened and the upper abdomen is ignored, the patient will be left with an unsightly upper abdominal bulge. Beware of so-called “mini” tummy tuck procedures, as they usually produce mini results!
There is one important aspect of abdominal contour that no current surgical technique can impact. In some patients, a major cause of abdominal disproportion is intra-abdominal fat, which lies deep. When some patients gain weight, they disproportionately store fat within the abdomen. This pattern of weight gain is determined largely by genetics, but also by nutritional factors. It is a particularly dangerous form of weight gain, since it seems to be accompanied by a significant increased risk of heart disease.
Once the patient commits to surgery, the pending tummy tuck can serve as a wonderful motivator to lose this dangerous fat before the procedure. As the patient loses weight, the skin will hang looser. While this might have discouraged the patient in the past, since he or she knows that the tummy tuck will correct the loose skin, it will be easier to accomplish the desired weight loss. There is no question in our minds that for our patients who have used a tummy tuck as motivation to lose the deep intra-abdominal fat, the surgery has been a life-altering—even a lifesaving—procedure!
Tummy Tucks Restore and Optimize Function
A properly toned abdominal wall is more than beautiful. It is a key element in the dynamic balance of the mid-body. The muscles of the front part of the abdominal wall help to maintain posture and proper position of the spine. When these muscles are weakened or altered in position, the spine tends to shift into a position of exaggerated curvature, which often results in back discomfort.
The importance of the anterior muscles is well known to physical therapists, who often work to strengthen and optimize the mechanics of these muscles in patients with back pain. The gap that develops between the rectus or sit-up muscles in the front part of the abdomen after significant weight fluctuation or pregnancy will derange the proper balance of the mid-body. Once the muscles are out of position, no amount of exercise will be able to restore completely normal function. Patients with a gap between the muscles often experience discomfort and a sense of being unsupported.
A tummy tuck allows for these muscle to return to their normal functional position, and the patient experiences a sense of better abdominal control.
Tummy Tuck Combinations
We perceive the contour and curves of the abdomen in relation to the curves and contours of other zones of the body, particularly the hips, the thighs and the breast. True beauty is obtained when all curves of these areas relate to each other in a harmonious way. Tummy tuck combinations can help to optimize this harmonious interplay.
Perimeterplasty: Tummy Tuck Combined with Lipoplasty of Nearby Areas
In this approach, Dr. Cook uses advanced fat-reduction techniques to adjust the curves of the outer thigh, the inner thigh, the hip, the waist, or other nearby areas at the time of the abdominoplasty so that there is an optimized balance of the lines that form the perimeter of the body.
Tummy Tuck Combined With Breast Surgery
Life events that stretch and alter the shape of the abdomen often exert similar effects on the breast. Two common examples of this are pregnancy and the cycle of weight gain and loss. Breasts may lose or gain volume or lose their pleasing tone. For some patients, the breasts may droop so severely that they affect body mechanics and posture.
Dr. Cook frequently combines tummy tuck with various forms of breast surgery to restore a pleasing state of visual harmony. This in turn gives the patient a positive visual feedback that will serve as a wonderful motivation to maintain optimum habits of nutrition and exercise.
Dr. Cook considers his patients’ needs on an individualized basis. During your combined tummy tuck consultation, you will discuss your goals, and he will help you to select from the wide range of breast surgery procedures that we offer our patients: augmentation, augmentation combined with a lift, structural lift, and reduction.
Medial Thigh Lift / Inner Thigh Lift
When the tone of the inner thigh is significantly reduced, fat reduction will not be of benefit, even when there is a significant accumulation of fat in the area. From a structural standpoint, this is very similar to the situation that faces the patient with an excess of fat in the lower abdomen but who also has a loss of skin tone.
With the medial thigh lift technique, Dr. Cook tightens the skin of the inner thigh through an incision that is hidden in the crease where the upper thigh ends. Dr. Cook uses a variant of the technique for this operation that was developed by Dr. Ted Lockwood, the originator of the high lateral tension tummy tuck. In this technique, a layer of fascia that exists beneath the skin is securely anchored to the deep tissues. This takes tension off the skin and avoids the wide scars and distortion that may develop after other thigh lift techniques.
The medial thigh lift can be combined with a tummy tuck or other body contour procedures.
Posterior Body Lift
The posterior body lift, as originally developed by Dr. Ted Lockwood, provides a dramatic lifting of the outer thigh and buttock. Dr. Cook still finds the Lockwood technique to be the best of all options for lifting the posterior body.
This procedure is most helpful to patients who have experienced significant weight loss. For most patients this surgery is carried out as a separate procedure from the tummy tuck, as this allows for a more comfortable and safer recovery.
Where Does Dr. John Q. Cook Perform Tummy Tuck Surgery?
Dr. John Q. Cook carries out surgery that requires general or IV sedation anesthesia at a high-quality outpatient surgical facility not far from his Chicago office. He selected this facility because of the skill of the anesthesia team and the highly experienced staff who take care of our patients in the operating room and the recovery area. The specific anesthetic technique allows for an unusually quick recovery from surgery. In most cases, the post-anesthesia “hangover” is avoided after tummy tuck and more.
Most of our patients who choose a tummy tuck are met by our caregiver at the surgery center and brought to an elegant hotel in the same building as the surgery center. There are several advantages to this approach. The overall recovery is enhanced by the knowledge that an experienced caregiver is in charge for the first evening of recovery. With our hotel patients, we utilize devices that gently massage the calves, which significantly reduces the risk of forming blood clots in the leg.
The majority of our patients will leave the hotel the morning after tummy tuck surgery and recover at home for the following days. Some patients prefer to stay at the hotel for several days, and this can be easily arranged. Since the hotel is close to the office, our clinical team will visit patients at the hotel the morning after tummy tuck surgery, which is much more convenient for the patient than coming to the office for the first post-tummy tuck visit.
In some cases, tummy tuck surgery with gynecological or general surgery, such as hernia repair. In these cases, the surgery will happen at Rush University Medical Center, a leading academic medical center, widely recognized for the expertise of its medical and nursing staffs. Dr. Cook will work in conjunction with one of his Rush colleagues in the Department of General Surgery or Obstetrics and Gynecology. Patients with this type of combined surgery will spend one or several nights at the center.
Regardless of where your tummy tuck surgery is performed, our staff will make sure that you are well prepared for the abdominoplasty procedure. We will help you to optimize your habits and physiology as you prepare for the tummy tuck surgery and will guide you through the recovery process.
Are There Non-Surgical Options for Body Contouring?
While no non-surgical treatment can duplicate the dramatic contouring effects of a surgical procedure, there are several options that yield visible results for patients not yet ready for a tummy tuck or similar surgery.
SculpSure® uses laser energy to heat fat cells for reduction in targeted area, while BodyFX reduces fat with radiofrequency energy. Evolve is an advanced system that employs a series of radiofrequency applicators for hands-free fat reduction and skin tightening. It can also improve muscle tone through electromagnetic stimulation.
Dr. Cook and his team at Whole Beauty® Institute are prepared to discuss with you the tummy tuck or other body contouring strategy that would work best for your unique circumstances.
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