Surgical Marking Before Having Abdominoplasty Surgery


Surgical Marking Before An Abdominoplasty: Preparing for a Tummy Tuck

How does your Surgeon know where to make incisions and what amount of skin to remove during an Abdominoplasty? Where on the torso does your belly button end up after surgery? Is liposuction is required for a flatter, firmer result? The answer is that surgical expertise is imperative to getting a good result from any type of Abdominoplasty procedure. That’s why measurements and pre-surgical markings (mark-ups) are very important – they provide an outline for your Surgeon where to operate to aim for a great result.

Here’s an overview of Surgical markups before abdominoplasty.  Be sure you visit the ABDOMINOPLASTY TUMMY TUCK surgery information page and download the Tummy Tuck e-book GUIDE.

Surgical Markings For an Abdominoplasty – Tummy Tuck Markups

+-What are surgical markups before surgery?

  • Markups before surgery tell your Surgeon WHERE to operate and perform liposuction during your Tummy Tuck procedure.
  • How it works:
    • Before Abdominoplasty/Tummy Tuck surgery, your Surgeon will greet you in the pre-op room
    • Your surgeon will discuss your procedure again and asks you questions 
    • Pre-Abdominoplasty surgery markings will be made using a marking device (a sterile pen or marker)
    • the lines and circles your Surgeon draws on your tummy (your abdomen area) are crucial parts of your procedure

  • Pre-surgery markups (drawings) need to be calculated and precise.
  • This is where an expert Plastic Surgeon who is very particular about pre-surgery markups, is extremely important for attaining a flatter, firmer belly and waistline AFTER surgery.
  • Be sure you choose the best possible Surgeon for your Abdominoplasty/Tummy Tuck
  • Choose a bona fide Specialist Plastic Surgeon rather than a cosmetic doctor/surgeon without FRACS (Plas) – why? Because as a non-specialist lacks continuing education and training from RACS, ISAPS, ASAPS and ASPS.
  • Only a genuine PLASTIC SURGEON has membership in these continuing education groups for accredited plastic surgeons.

+-Do all Tummy Tuck surgeons use the same MARKUP methods before surgery?

  • Not all Surgeons are as skilled as other Surgeons at marking up patients before surgery.
  • Not all doctors are alike in knowing just how much skin or body fat to remove, where to make incisions and how much liposuction to use during a Tummy Tuck.
  • That’s why you need to choose the best Tummy Tuck Surgeon you can find.

+-What do surgical markups mean in terms of surgery results?

  • Your surgical markings indicate several things such as:
    • Where the center of your torso is located
    • The desired final location of your newly adjusted navel/belly button
    • What size the belly button/navel needs to be to look aesthetically balanced or attractive (one of the many benefits of Tummy Tuck Surgery).
    • Liposuction areas for body contouring and upper torso or lower torso/pubis mons shaping
  • It is very important you discuss your ideal navel appearance and location preferences with your Surgeon, in advance of your Tummy Tuck, and again also at the time of your pre-surgery markings or ‘surgical markups’ before you head into theatre with your Specialist Surgeon.

+-Will I be standing up, sitting down or reclining during pre-surgery markups?

Pre-Surgical Markings: Does your Surgeon mark your body standing up or sitting down?

  • Surgeons are not identical in how they approach their abdominoplasty procedures including pre-surgery markups.
  • Many Specialists Surgeons find that marking your Tummy incisions while you are actually STANDING up may be the best way to approach pre-Tummy Tuck markups.
  • Others may choose to mark your abdomen once you are actually on the operating table.
  • Some Surgeons do a combination of both.

+-Does the markup relate to incisions and scars?

  • The incisions DO relate to scars, but because skin is excised and moved, they don’t necessarily reflect where your scars will end up once you recover.
  • Our Surgeons DO take several steps to minimise your Abdominoplasty scars.
  • Your incision line scars will typically end up on the lower torso area, usually under the beltline when possible.
  • That noted, incision lines need to be placed PRECISELY WHERE they are NEEDED to get you the best potential Tummy Tuck body contouring results.

Remember: what you are starting with MATTERS in terms of results. Results vary from patient to patient.

Keep your expectations in check with what’s realistically possible given your starting point, body weight, genetics and skin condition.

Incision Markings for Abdominoplasty – Vertical and Horizontal

+-Are scars after Abdominoplasty horizontal, vertical or both?

  • There are primarily two primary approaches for tummy tuck incisions.
  • The incision pattern and pre-surgery markups your Surgeon uses will help your Surgeon AIM for a flatter, tighter tummy.
  • The vertical line is a reference line, it helps your Surgeon plan for a more symmetrical abdomen after surgery
    • remember all bodies are NOT perfectly symmetrical before NOR after surgery; expect improvement, but don’t expect perfection
  • Body-lift Abdominoplasty surgeries or belt lipectomy procedures for post-bariatric surgery or weight loss patients MAY involve both vertical AND horizontal scars
    • however, standard Abdominoplasty surgeries tend to involve a horizontal scar below your navel
    • plus a scar around the belly button that often fades
    • but discuss this with your surgeon as every surgery is custom planned and may have different scarring

What else should I know about the time JUST before surgery?

Tummy Tuck Guide Download

Meeting your Anaesthetist and the Hospital Nursing Team

+-Checking in at the hospital - what to expect.

  • You will be greeted by the nursing team or theatre check in nurses or administrators at the hospital.
  • You will need to fill in forms and sign additional consents.
  • You’ll be asked to change into a special surgery theatre gown and you may be asked to put up your hair/wear a cap.
  • You’ll have a pre-surgery meeting with your Anaesthetist, who will ask you questions about prior surgeries, health, medications and other important factors.
  • You’ll see your SURGEON before surgery and have your mark ups, as above.
  • Sometimes surgery theatre times are delayed – this is normal, so plan for some flexibility on theatre time.
  • Be sure you have followed the pre-surgery instructions carefully (and yes, sorry, you will feel hungry but it’s important you have followed the NO DRINKS/NO EATING rules before surgery or you could put yourself at serious risk).

Sterilisation of the surgery area of your body before your procedure

+-How important is sterilisation before my operation? Scrubbing In.

  • Your Surgeon and his or her nursing team may give you special instructions for preparing your skin for surgery – as well as caring for your INCISION lines – follow these precisely to avoid infections.
  • Your Plastic Surgeon and surgical support team/theatre nurses will also “scrub in” prior to your Tummy Tuck procedure.
  • They will wear the necessary protective gear in order to give you the best and safest care during your surgery procedure(s).
  • Before surgery, but AFTER your Anaesthesia kicks in, your Surgical Support Staff will also SCRUB your abdomen and torso and additional areas involved in your procedures, using a special antiseptic soap to sterilise the area and reduce bacteria.
  • The washed area will then be rinsed, and finally is “painted” with a brownish-coloured antiseptic liquid that helps kills any additional surface bacteria or fungi.
  • Your skin may temporarily appear a bit orange or brown after surgery.


Want more information before scheduling a consultation with your Surgeon?

Please Contact Us using the form below to arrange a consultation with one of our Specialist Plastic Surgeons or to speak with our Patient Care Team on (03) 8849 1444

Our team of Specialist Plastic Surgeons’ affiliations include:


Tips for successful Cosmetic Surgery

7 Steps Download

Our Surgeons can perform Tummy Tuck surgery in the following accredited Victoria Hospitals:


St Vincent’s Private Hospital – Kew

Masada Private Hospital – St Kilda

Epworth Hospital – Hawthorn

Epworth Hospital – Richmond 

Epworth Hospital – Cliveden

St John Of God Hospital – Berwick 



Last updated: 30/01/2019
Author profile image
Dr Craig Rubinstein - MBBS, FRACS (Plast)
Dr Craig Rubinstein MBBS, FRACS (Plast), a Specialist Plastic Surgeon, is one of Australia's most respected Melbourne Surgeons for Breast Augmentation, Breast Lift (Mastopexy), Breast Reduction surgery and Abdominoplasty procedures. Using advanced surgical techniques to gain better body contouring and natural-looking surgical results, Dr Rubinstein is highly regarded by peers and patients for best-practice Clinic Patient-care and patient education strategies. He published a chapter on corrective surgery for Breast Asymmetry (see: Dr Rubinstein, a Melbourne University medical graduate and current FRACS Specialist Plastic Surgeon, is renowned for his skill and precision with breast enhancement procedures. With over 20 years experience in female cosmetic procedures, he has performed over 7,000 breast enhancement surgery procedures including breast augmentation, breast lift and breast reduction, and thousands of Abdominoplasty procedures for women after pregnancy or weight changes (post-obesity/post-bariatric surgery).Qualifications/Training Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (FRACS) The Australasian Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (ASAPS) The Australian Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The Australian Medical Association (AMA) American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) The International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (ISAPS)Founder: Cosmetic Surgery for Women and Men - Plastic Surgeons Group Bio Page: