Abdominoplasty – Tummy Tuck
A tummy tuck is a surgical procedure that removes excess fat and skin, and in most cases repairs weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer.
The best candidates for this procedure are men and women who have loose, sagging skin in the upper and /or lower abdomen or a mid section that is protruding or hanging over the panty line and is unresponsive to exercise and diet. If your weight has been stable and you are within 30 pounds of your ideal body weight, you are a great candidate for abdominoplasty.
This loose, sagging skin or protruding tummy can be caused by a variety of factors: weight fluctuations, pregnancy, heredity and prior surgery. If you are looking to achieve a slimmer body contour and firm balanced skin around the abdomen, a tummy tuck procedure may be the answer.
Prior to the procedure
The most important process in the beginning is to have an open, honest conversation with your surgeon about your expectations and what is involved before, during and after the procedure. The initial consultation will happen before your surgery is scheduled. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on what medications and vitamins to take or avoid prior to surgery as well as a guideline for an appropriate diet. If you are a smoker, you will be advised to quit smoking two weeks prior and a month post surgery. Crash dieting is not recommended. If you intend on losing a significant amount of weight, you may need to postpone surgery until you get closer to your weight goal.
A full abdominoplasty usually takes two to three hours depending on the amount of work required. A partial abdominoplasty, often referred to as a mini-tuck may take an hour or two. General anesthesia is commonly used so you will sleep through the procedure.
If you are having a full tummy-tuck, a horizontal incision will be made in the skin crease just above the pubic area. Don’t worry though because the incision can be easily covered with the skimpiest swim suit. Excess skin will be pulled tight and the extra skin is removed. In most cases a small incision is made around the belly button to free the navel from surrounding tissue. Muscles are then pulled together and stitched into a tighter position. The result of this is a firmer, narrower waist line.
If it is determined by you and your surgeon that a mini-tuck will achieve your goals, the incision is much shorter. Usually a smaller horizontal incision is made close to the pubic bone. The excess skin is removed and the lower abdomen is tighter and firmer.
The benefits from this procedure are probably obvious. You will have a smoother, tighter, more youthful abdomen. Depending on the amount of excess skin that is removed, you could go home without stretch marks or at least less of them. Some patients have even experienced a reduction in lower back pain due to the tightening of the abdominal muscles.
Recovery times vary from patient to patient. If you are in good physical condition with strong abdominal muscles, recovery time will be much faster. For most, the recovery time is approximately two to four weeks. The drain tube that is inserted into the incision site will be removed after 1 to 2 weeks and your stitches will dissolve on their own. Expect to wear a support garment for several weeks after surgery.
It is important to start light exercise soon after your return home. Walking a little is a great start even if just around the house. This helps minimize swelling and the possibility of blood clots. Vigorous exercise should be avoided for 4 to 6 weeks or until your doctor gives you the okay.
You should expect to have swelling, pain, and stiffness after surgery. You may not be able to stand up straight for several days due to the tightness of your abdomen but this will ease up after a few days. Most patients return to work after 10 to 14 days. Total recovery time and getting back to the ‘normal you’ could take two to three months. Even though this procedure is complex and recovery time can be long, it is the best way to restore your abdomen and start feeling great about the way you look and feel.