Tummy Tuck - Abdominoplasty
A FLAT AND WELL TONED ABDOMEN IS SOMETHING MANY OF US STRIVE FOR THROUGH EXERCISE AND WEIGHT CONTROL. But regardless of effort, sometimes these methods cannot achieve our goals. Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include heredity, multiple pregnancies, prior surgery, significant fluctuations in weight or congenital spine abnormalities that affect posture.
If you desire a tighter, flatter abdomen, then a tummy tuck may be appropriate to help achieve your goals. In general, a tummy tuck removes excess fat and skin, and in some cases restores weakened or separated muscles. This creates an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer, often enhancing your body image and confidence.
Tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is a common term for the surgical procedure to correct a protruding or loose, sagging abdomen. Areas to be treated may include the center of the abdomen or may extend to the entire area between the lower rib cage and pubic bone, as well as to the sides and back.
Abdominal contouring can be performed using a variety of techniques. When localized fat is the cause, abdominal contour surgery may be performed using only liposuction techniques. When excess fat is combined with loose, sagging skin and tissue, a tummy tuck removes unwanted fat, tissues and skin by excision. Abdominal muscles that have weakened or separated, a condition called diastasis, can also be corrected with a tummy tuck.
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 weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss
or women who may be considering future pregnancies may be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.
Tummy tuck is best performed on adults of any age who are in good health, are close to the ideal weight for their body type and size, are moderately fit and, overall, have good muscle tone. Good candidates are:
- Healthy individuals who do not have a life-threatening illness or medical conditions that can impair healing
- Individuals with a positive outlook and specific goals in mind for body contouring
In addition, previous abdominal surgery may limit the potential results of a tummy tuck. In women who have undergone cesarean section, the existing scars may often be incorporated or revised for new incisions.
A consultation with your plastic surgeon is the first step to learn how abdominal contour surgery or a tummy tuck can improve your body image and abdominal contour. A consultation is designed to fully educate you about tummy tuck in a non-pressured environment, and will include:
- A discussion of your goals and an evaluation of your individual case
- The options available in tummy tuck surgery
- The likely outcomes of tummy tuck and any risks or potential complications
- The course of treatment recommended by your plastic surgeon
Your plastic surgeon will also answer your questions.
Overall health and personal outlook can greatly impact the outcome of body contouring surgery, including tummy tuck. These will be carefully evaluated in your consultation with your plastic surgeon. The success of your procedure, safety and overall satisfaction require that you:
- Honestly share your expectations
- Fully disclose health history, current medications, the use of vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco, and drugs
- Understand what results can be expected from the procedure you decide to pursue
- Commit to following all of your plastic surgeon's instructions precisely
About the Procedure
Your tummy tuck will be individualized to your specific condition that may include:
- Excess localized fat in the abdominal area
- Loose and sagging skin in the abdominal region
- Weakened or separated abdominal muscles due to pregnancy, weight loss or aging
One or all of these conditions may be present and can be surgically improved by a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are primarily located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised, generally those treated areas below the belly button.
Surgical removal of excess fat and skin may be combined with liposuction during a tummy tuck. There are variations to tummy tuck surgery; the technique selected is dependant on the degree of correction necessary to achieve a flatter profile and firmer abdomen. -Incision length and pattern depend on the amount and location of excess skin to be removed, as well as personal preference and surgical judgment.
Liposuction may be used in conjunction with a tummy tuck or to recontour other areas of the body by removing localized excess fat deposits. Other body contouring procedures may be performed separately or in the same surgical session as a tummy tuck. However, not all patients are good candidates for combined procedures. Your case will be evaluated on an individual basis.
A full tummy tuck requires a horizontal incision in the area between the pubic hairline and navel. The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the degree of correction necessary.
Through this incision, weakened abdominal muscles are repaired and excess fat, tissue and skin is removed. A second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.
Incision size is largely dependant on the amount of excess skin to be removed. Where correction is isolated to the area below the navel, a limited or mini tummy tuck with a shorter incision at the pubic bone may be recommended.
Liposuction may be performed with a mini tummy tuck; where excess fat is the only factor, liposuction alone may achieve the desired result.
A tummy tuck results almost immediately in a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that is more proportionate with your body type and weight,
The final results may be initially obscured by swelling and your inability to stand fully upright until internal healing is complete,
Within a week or two, you should be standing tall and confident about your new slimmer profile.
Prepare for Surgery
Your plastic surgeon will carefully explain your tummy tuck procedure. Prior to surgery, you will be given specific instructions that may include:
- Pre-surgical considerations, diagnostic testing and medications
- Day oi surgery instructions and medications
- Specific information related to the use of anesthesia.
- Postoperative care and follow-up
In addition, you will be asked to sign consent forms to assure your plastic surgeon that you fully understand the procedure you will undergo and any risks or potential complications.
Possible risks of a tummy tuck include blood clots or blood pooling beneath the skin (hematoma), fluid accumulation, infection or poor healing of the incision site. Any surgery carries risks associated with anesthesia. These risks and others will be. fully discussed prior to your consent.
It is important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon. It is natural to feel some anxiety, whether excitement for the anticipated outcomes or preoperative stress. Discuss these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
Following Surgery and What to Expect
A tummy tuck may be performed in your plastic surgeon's office-based surgical facility, an ambulatory surgical facility or a hospital, possibly with an overnight hospital stay. It is more commonly performed under general anesthesia, although local anesthesia with sedation may also be used. These decisions will be based on the requirements of your specific procedure and considerations of patient and surgeon preference. Your plastic surgeon and the assisting staff will fully attend to your comfort and safety.
Once your procedure is completed, dressing or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling and to support your abdomen as it heals. A small, thin tube may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood that may collect.
Before you are released following surgery, you and an accompanying family member, friend or caregiver will be given specific instructions that may include:
- How to care for the surgical site and drains
- Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection
- Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
- When to follow up with your plastic surgeon
Progress and Healing
Initial healing will include swelling and discomfort at the incision sites. Discomfort is common and can be controlled with medication. You will be instructed to return to light walking as soon as possible to minimize the potential for blood clots and other complications.
You must avoid bending, straining or lifting anything for several days. Your plastic surgeon may also instruct you not to stand fully upright, to avoid stressing any internal sutures as they heal, and to sleep with pillows elevating your knees. To assure a successful outcome, it is important that you follow all instructions carefully. A return to light, normal activity is possible as soon as you feel ready, usually within a few days of surgery.
Initial wound healing may take 5 to 10 days. Any sutures will be removed some time after that, if necessary. You will be ready to return to work and normal activity in a few weeks, so long as you do not engage in any heavy lifting or vigorous exercise.
Healing will continue for several weeks as swelling dissipates and incision lines continue to improve. You must practice diligent sun protection until the healing process is fully complete. Continue to follow your plastic surgeon's instructions and attend follow-up visits as scheduled.
Result and Outlook
The results of a tummy tuck are visible almost immediately, however it may take several months for your final results to fully develop. Numbness and a firm feeling over the skin's surface will resolve over the following months. It may take a year or more for incision lines to refine to some degree. Although they are permanent, these scars are hidden by most clothing and swimsuits.
Your new profile with a firm and flat abdomen is relatively permanent, so long as you maintain your weight and general fitness. As your body ages you may find that some firmness is lost in the abdomen. However, this is minimal compared to the initial conditions that were corrected to achieve your now toned abdomen.