Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty):
A firm, flat abdomen is a hallmark of a beautiful body contour. During the procedure, the abdominal muscles are tightened and excess, sagging skin is eliminated, correcting a protruding belly and leaving the midsection flatter and better toned. Tummy tucks are popular procedure for men and women, particularly those whose bodies have undergone dramatic changes from weight loss or pregnancy.
Who is a good candidate for Tommy Tuck?
The decision to have any cosmetic procedure is personal, and patients choose to have tummy tucks for a variety of reasons. The best candidates are at or near their ideal body weight, are non-smokers in good health, and have realistic expectations about what surgery can achieve for them. If any of the following describe you, a tummy tuck is an option to consider:
- Diet & exercise have helped you lose weight, but your abdomen still protrudes and lacks tone.
- Your abdominal muscles and skin are stretched and sagging following pregnancy.
- After losing significant amounts of weight, you now have loose, excess skin hanging around your belly.
- You have always had a belly that “sticks out,” even though you are in very good shape.
A tummy tuck can help patients in any of these situations address what they don’t like about their shape and achieve a firmer, flatter abdomen.
Important Things to know:
What tummy tuck surgery can’t do
A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program.
Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies would be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised.
Step 1 – Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 – The incision
A full tummy tuck requires a horizontally-oriented incision in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button.
The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the amount of excess skin. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, the underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired.
A second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.
The upper abdominal skin is pulled down like a window shade. The excess skin is trimmed and the remaining skin is sutured together. A new opening for the belly button is created. The belly button is popped through to the surface and sutured into position.
Step 3 – Closing the incisions
Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips close the skin incisions.
Preparation and Recovery:
During your consultation, we will likely:
- Review your medical history. Be prepared to answer questions about current and past medical conditions. Talk about any medications you’re taking or you have taken recently, as well as any surgeries you’ve had.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to any medications. If your desire for a tummy tuck is related to weight loss, your doctor will likely ask detailed questions about your weight gain and loss.
- Do a physical exam. To determine your treatment options, the doctor will examine your abdomen. The doctor might also take pictures of your abdomen for your medical record.
- Discuss your expectations. Explain why you want a tummy tuck, and what you’re hoping for in terms of appearance after the procedure. Make sure you understand the benefits and risks, including scarring. Keep in mind that previous abdominal surgery might limit your results.
Before a tummy tuck you might also need to:
- Stop smoking. Smoking decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. In addition, smoking increases the risk of tissue damage. If you smoke, your doctor will recommend that you stop smoking before surgery and during recovery.
- Avoid certain medications. You’ll likely need to avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
- Maintain a stable weight. Ideally, you’ll maintain a stable weight for at least 12 months before having a tummy tuck. If you’re severely overweight, your doctor will recommend that you lose weight before the procedure. Significant weight loss after the procedure can diminish your results.
- Take medication to prevent complications. Shortly before your tummy tuck, you’ll need to begin taking an anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting.
- Arrange for help during recovery. Make plans for someone to drive you home after you leave the hospital and stay with you for at least the first night of your recovery at home.
It is also worth to know:
Types of Tummy Tucks
No two patients start with identical concerns, nor will any two patients share the exact same goals. Your cosmetic surgeon will recommend the type of tummy tuck that will achieve your desired outcome and create natural-appearing results with the least scarring possible.
Mini-Tummy Tuck: Improves the Lower Belly with Less Extensive Surgery
Are you mainly bothered by a “pooch” or loose skin and stretch marks below the belly button? A mini-tummy tuck may be a good option for you. This technique involves a single incision made just above the pubic mound, through which your cosmetic surgeon will tighten loose muscles (flattening the “pooch”) and remove excess skin to restore a smooth, flat abdominal wall.
The resulting scar from a mini-tummy tuck is a thin, horizontal line that is typically just a few inches long. Benefits of a mini-tummy tuck include a shorter, less involved procedure, a quicker recovery, and a flatter, slimmer lower abdomen that looks better in swimsuits and fitted clothing.
Classic or “Full” Tummy Tuck: Improves the Upper & Lower Abdomen
Are you bothered by roundness and/or excess skin folds above and below your belly button? A full tummy tuck, which addresses the full length of the abdominal wall, may yield the best results. Through a horizontal or U-shaped incision, made above the pubic mound, your cosmetic surgeon will remove excess skin and tighten the abdominal muscles. In some cases, a second incision is made around the navel to address excess skin above the belly button and achieve the most natural looking results.
The resulting scar from a full tummy tuck looks similar to that for a mini-tummy tuck, but will typically be longer, running from hip bone to hip bone. Even so, a full tummy tuck scar can usually be hidden beneath a swimsuit bottom. Benefits of a full tummy tuck include a much flatter, smoother abdomen, reduced appearance of stretch marks, and enhanced comfort in pants and skirts. You will also find that form-fitting dresses and swimsuits have a more flattering fit.
Extended Tummy Tuck: Improves the Upper & Lower Abdomen and Flanks
Have you lost a lot of weight and now have excess, sagging skin hanging around the front half of your body? Or, have you noticed significant laxity in your abdominal muscles following multiple pregnancies? An extended tummy tuck may be the best option to address your concerns. Although it involves a longer incision, an extended tummy tuck removes excess, hanging skin from the front (upper and lower abdomen) and the flanks, as well as tightens the abdominal wall.
The resulting scar from an extended tummy tuck can often be hidden by clothing, including many swimsuits, but it may not be entirely covered for some patients. Even so, many patients consider some visible scarring a worthwhile price for a much improved body shape.
Risks and Complications:
- Fluid accumulation beneath the skin (seroma). Drainage tubes left in place after surgery can help reduce the risk of excess fluid. Your doctor might also remove fluid after surgery using a needle and syringe.
- Poor wound healing. Sometimes areas along the incision line heal poorly or begin to separate. You might be given antibiotics during and after surgery to prevent an infection.
- Unexpected scarring. The incision scar from a tummy tuck is permanent, but is placed along the easily hidden bikini line. The length and visibility of the scar varies from person to person.
- Tissue damage or death. During a tummy tuck, fatty tissue deep within your skin in the abdominal area might get damaged or die. Smoking increases this risk. Depending on the size of the area, tissue might heal on its own or require a surgical touch-up procedure.
- Changes in skin sensation. During a tummy tuck, the repositioning of your abdominal tissues can affect the nerves in the abdominal area, and infrequently, in the upper thighs. You’ll likely feel some reduced sensation or numbness. This usually diminishes in the months after the procedure.
Like any other type of major surgery, a tummy tuck poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia.
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your operation. It is important that you address all your questions directly with us.
How will be my life after Tummy tuck?
The majority of tummy tucks can be performed as outpatient procedures, and patients go home a few hours after surgery. However, your cosmetic surgeon may require an overnight hospital stay after a more extensive tummy tuck so you can be safely monitored during the initial hours of your recovery. Because a tummy tuck involves surgery on the abdominal muscles, recovery after a tummy tuck takes more time than that for other procedures.
Expect to be sore and somewhat uncomfortable for the first week or so and spend the first few days resting quietly at home, although you will be encouraged to get up and walk around the house to maintain healthy circulation. It is not uncommon for patients to have drains temporarily placed in the incisions to help remove fluid after surgery. If this is the case for you, your cosmetic surgeon will give you detailed instructions for keeping the area clean and well-maintained until their removal a few days following surgery
When Can I Return to Work?
Depending on how physically demanding your job is, you may be ready to return to work after 2 to 4 weeks. If you have a desk job, you should be able to go back to work on the early side of this time frame, but if your job involves lifting, straining or other strenuous activities, expect to take up to a month away from such tasks.
Can I take care of my baby?
Tummy tuck surgery is especially popular with moms post-pregnancy, and childcare is a common concern. Because of the limits placed on lifting and straining, you will need to have full-time help with small children for the first few weeks after a surgery. Lifting even a 10 kg child too soon after a tummy tuck can jeopardize your results by stretching the incision site and possibly leading to prolonged bleeding and swelling. Follow your cosmetic surgeon’s instructions carefully and completely.
If your children are a little older, you should be able to resume many of your parenting duties, such as driving, cooking, and shopping, after the first 2 or 3 weeks. Just make sure you have plenty of help carrying groceries, feeding the pets, and doing other more active tasks.