A Celebrity Tummy Tuck

Kathy Buccio Visits Careaga Plastic Surgery

As the current host of the South Florida PBS Health Channel and a former producer at Access Hollywood (who still works for Extra, E! News and Telemundo), Kathy Buccio could have her pick of plastic surgeons. And she needed one. After giving birth to her second child, she was suffering from a distended belly that led to more than one person asking her if she was expecting again.

What Buccio decided to do was undergo what is known as a “tummy tuck,” and she chose Coral Gables plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Careaga.

As it turns out, Coral Gables is a thriving center for both plastic surgery and cosmetic dermatology. If you consult the prestigious Castle Connolly Top Doctors guide, and put in the zip codes for Coral Gables, what comes up are almost exclusively beauty doctors. Buccio says she picked Careaga because she had interviewed him for the Health Channel, and “I felt in my gut that this was the guy for me.”

Gut would be the appropriate word, because Buccio was suffering from diastasis, a weakness of the abdominal muscles that frequently follows pregnancy. The result is a bulging stomach that is sometimes minor, but if extensive, can be difficult if not impossible to correct with diet and exercise. What is required, says Dr. Careaga, is surgery during which the muscles are tied together “and tightened, like a corset.”

The resulting tummy tuck operation is a specialty for Dr. Careaga, who has performed between 4,000 and 5,000 such procedures. For Buccio, it was something whose time had come. “In Miami we keep procedures on the downlow, but I found that friends had gone to him,” she recalls. “I said, ‘I’ve wanted to do this for a long time. I’m doing it and getting this corrected.’”

Before and after images reveal the dramatic change after the procedure

The surgery took about an hour and a half, says Buccio, and that was the easy part. Recovery was no fun. “You are uncomfortable, and it’s painful. Your skin is stretched and you are bent over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame,” she says. “You can’t be moving at first. Maybe five minutes of walking a day.”

“The pain is there the first three days. And the drains are there, in you, by your pelvic bones,” she says. “But once they take the drains out [after about a week], it’s a game changer. You feel so much better.” Buccio says that it wasn’t until the 10th day that she was able to drive; before then it is nothing but rest – and no rich foods that might cause cramps. “By two weeks I was feeling great,” she says.

At that point she was fitted with a full body girdle, to wear for six weeks. After a month she started with light exercise, and after three months she got the go-ahead to do abdominal exercise (though most people take longer).

“He did an amazing job. You get some really ugly belly buttons if they don’t know what they are doing,” she says. “He did lipo on each side, not a lot, but enough so you can see an hourglass. Today I feel great, I look great, and no one is asking me anymore if I am pregnant, which is awesome.”

Kathy Buccio, host of the South Florida PBS Health Channel, looks and feels great after undergoing a “Tummy Tuck” with Coral Gables plastic surgeon Dr. Daniel Careaga