Abdominoplasty, known more commonly as a “tummy tuck,” is a major surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. The procedure can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen. But bear in mind, it does produce a permanent scar, which, depending on the extent of the original problem and the surgery required to correct it, can extend from hip to hip.
The Best Candidates For Abdominoplasty
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin that won’t respond to diet or exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through multiple pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved.
Patients who intend to lose a lot of weight should postpone the surgery. Also, women who plan future pregnancies should wait, as vertical muscles in the abdomen that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy.
All Surgery Carries Some Uncertainty And Risk
Thousands of abdominoplasties are performed successfully each year. When done by a qualified plastic surgeon who is trained in body contouring, the results are generally quite positive. Nevertheless, there are always risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.
Post-operative complications such as infection and blood clots are rare, but can occur. Infection can be treated with drainage and antibiotics, but will prolong your hospital stay. You can minimize the risk of blood clots by moving around as soon after the surgery as possible.
Planning Your Tummy Tuck Surgery
In your initial consultation, your surgeon will evaluate your health, determine the extent of fat deposits in your abdominal region, and carefully assess your skin tone. Be sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, and if you’re taking any medications, vitamins, or other drugs.
Be frank in discussing your expectations with your surgeon. He or she should be equally frank with you, describing your alternatives and the risks and limitations of each.
If, your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel, you may require a less complex procedure called a partial abdominoplasty, also know as a mini-tummy tuck, which can often be performed on an outpatient basis. You may, on the other hand, benefit more from partial or complete abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction
to remove fat deposits from the hips, for a better body contour. Or maybe liposuction alone would create the best result.
The Tummy Tuck Surgery
Most commonly, the surgeon will make a long incision from hipbone to hipbone, just above the pubic area. A second incision is made to free the navel from surrounding tissue. With partial abdominoplasty, the incision is much shorter and the navel may not be moved, although it may be pulled into an unnatural shape as the skin is tightened and stitched.
Next, the surgeon separates the skin from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs and lifts a large skin flap to reveal the vertical muscles in your abdomen. These muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position. This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline.
The skin flap is then stretched down and the extra skin is removed. A new hole is cut for your navel, which is then stitched in place. Finally, the incisions will be stitched, dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site.
After Your Tummy Tuck
For the first few days, your abdomen will probably be swollen and you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort which can be controlled by medication. Depending on the extent of the cosmetic surgery, you may be released within a few hours or you may have to remain hospitalized for two to three days.
Surface stitches will be removed in five to seven days, and deeper sutures, with ends that protrude through the skin, will come out in two to three weeks. The dressing on your incision may be replaced by a support garment.
It may take you weeks or months to feel like your old self again. If you start out in top physical condition with strong abdominal muscles, recovery from abdominoplasty will be much faster. Some people return to work after two weeks, while others take three or four weeks to rest and recuperate.
Abdominoplasty, whether partial or complete, produces excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. And in most cases, the results are long lasting, if you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
For a tummy tuck in Glendale California contact board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Saul Berger
Content courtesy of PlasticSurgery.org
An incision just above the pubic area is used to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen.
Skin is separated from the abdominal wall all the way up to the ribs.
The surgeon draws underlying muscle and tissue together and stitches them, thereby narrowing the waistline and strengthening the abdominal wall.
Abdominal skin is drawn down and excess is removed. With complete abdominoplasty, a new opening is cut for the navel. Both incisions are stitched closed.
After surgery, the patient has a flatter, trimmer abdomen. Scars are permanent, but will fade with time.
Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck) FAQ
What Is A Tummy Tuck And Who Is A Candidate?
A tummy tuck is a procedure used to re-shape the tummy area by tightening the skin and flattening its contour. The improvements are made by removing excess loose skin, thinning areas where the fatty layer under the skin is thick, and tightening muscles that often separate from pregnancy. The operation takes between two and four hours to complete, depending on how much work needs to be done. It can be performed on an outpatient basis, typically under general anesthesia. Most patients can expect to be back at work by two weeks if they work in an office environment.
Are All Tummy Tucks The Same?
A tummy tuck or abdominoplasty can vary considerably from person to person. What an individual requires is based on a thorough preop examination and consultation. A patient may need any combination of (a) skin tightening; (b) muscle and abdominal wall tightening; (c) thinning of the fat layer under the skin; (d) cosmetic improvement of the navel; (e) contouring and/or lifting of the pubic mound; and (f) liposuction of adjacent areas, such as the “love handles.” Since so many issues can be addressed, this operation often results in dramatic improvement in the tummy area.
What Is A “Mini” Abdominoplasty?
Some people have loose skin that is primarily located at the lower half of the abdominal area. In these patients, the skin above the belly button or navel is not very loose or floppy. In these selected patients, the lower skin can be tightened without any incision or manipulation at the belly button and above. As a result, there is no incision made at the navel, and the only scar would be covered by a bathing suit bottom.
What Do I Need To Do To Recover From The Surgery?
After surgery, the staff will apply a “binder” and some pads that will give you support during the early stages of healing. It is common to use a small silicone drain that siphons any fluid or blood out of the area for best healing results. The drain is easily removed in the office at the proper time. Patients can be allowed to shower with guidelines a few days later, so as to get back to a “normal” routine faster. Most people find that wearing some compression underneath their normal clothes for the weeks after surgery feels better and facilitates healing.
Are There Factors That Affect My Suitability For Tummy Tuck?
Because of the shifting of skin that happens in abdominoplasty, there are a number of factors that affect healing and results. First, patients should be in stable medical condition and are typically “cleared” for surgery by their primary care physician beforehand. Second, certain conditions of the tummy need to be considered in planning the procedure. These would include scars that already exist, hernias that may be present, or irritation of the skin that needs to be eliminated. Third, patients who are medically stable but have preexisting conditions may have a higher risk of healing problems afterward; common conditions include obesity and diabetes.