Abdominoplasty: The Tummy Tuck Procedure

By:    Published: February 14, 2012

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Abdominoplasty, or “Tummy Tuck,” is a surgical procedure that is performed on individuals who have a desire to flatten the stomach and tighten the abdominal muscles. If you have not received your desired results from diet and exercise, you may be considering a Tummy Tuck procedure. Abdominoplasty should be used only as a last resort and the decision to have the procedure done should not be a hurried one, as it is a major surgery. The Tummy Tuck should be considered only if you have exhausted all other avenues and not as a quick fix for weight loss.

What Is Abdominoplasty?

Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure in which excess fatty tissue and loose skin is removed and the abdominal muscles are tightened. The procedure covers the mid to lower sections of the abdomen, treating both stretched out muscles and skin by giving an improved appearance and added strength. This surgery is commonly used on patients with persistent belly fat that has not responded to diet and exercise programs.

How Is Abdominoplasty Performed?

Abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that can last anywhere from 2 to 6 hours depending upon whether your doctor needs to perform a simple “Mini-Tummy Tuck” or a more complicated, prolonged procedure.

  • Typically, your surgeon will make a crossway incision on your abdomen, just over the pubic area.
  • During the surgery your doctor will remove loose skin and excess fatty tissue from the mid and lower abdomen.
  • If necessary your doctor will also tighten the abdominal muscles.
  • In prolonged, more comprehensive procedures, your surgeon will also remove fatty tissue and excess skin from the sides of the abdomen, also known as the “love handles.”
  • The incisions will be closed with stiches and a drain may need to be put in place.
  • You will likely remain in the hospital anywhere from 1 to 3 days following your surgery.

Who Can Benefit From Abdominoplasty?

Both men and women are candidates for abdominoplasty as long as they are in good general health. Abdominoplasty is often a choice for men and women who have lost a great deal of weight after having been obese. Additionally, the procedure is often used for women who have had multiple pregnancies and have loose, stretched out skin and weakened abdominal muscles.

Abdominoplasty should not be confused with liposuction, which is a cosmetic procedure. While your surgeon may choose to do liposuction in conjunction with abdominoplasty, the two procedures are vastly different. Abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure.

Who Should Not Undergo Abdominoplasty?

If you are a woman who plans to have more children, you should not undergo a Tummy Tuck. During the surgery your abdominal muscles will be tightened, and any subsequent pregnancy will stretch the tightened muscles and may cause a hernia. In addition, if you are still in the midst of major weight loss, you may want to wait until you have reached your desired goal weight before undergoing abdominoplasty. Additionally, it is important to remember that abdominoplasty will cause scarring; the scar may be elongated and noticeable. Discuss any and all concerns with your surgeon during your initial consultation.

How Will Abdominoplasty Affect Your Stomach?

Immediately following a Tummy Tuck, you will see some prominent swelling and bruising. After a few weeks, much of the bruising and some of the swelling will dissipate; though it may take months before all of the swelling is down and you are able to see the true results of your abdominoplasty. You may also experience some loss of feeling around the abdomen, which may last for a few months or longer. Once you are healed completely, your stomach will appear firmer and flatter.

Are The Effects Permanent?

The results of an abdominoplasty are considered permanent. However, your results may not be long lasting if your weight fluctuates. It is important to eat a well-balanced diet and to exercise regularly in order to maintain your optimal weight and achieve the desired results from your surgery.

Risks And Complications

As with any surgical procedure, there are risks and complications associated with Abdominoplasty. The risks associated with abdominoplasty are similar to those of any surgical procedure which include:

  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Blood Clots

Complications associated with abdominoplasty are rare but vary from person to person. Your risk for complications will be increased if you are a smoker, if you have diabetes, if you have poor circulation or if you suffer from heart, liver or lung disease. Certain complications associated with abdominoplasty may require revisionary surgery to correct. Complications associated with abdominoplasty include:

  • Excessive scarring
  • Damage to surrounding organs
  • Loss of tissue
  • Accumulation of fluid under the skin
  • Nerve damage
  • Delayed healing

Preparing For Your Surgical Consultation:

During your consultation, you will likely be asked many questions and undergo a full medical history. It is important to speak honestly with your doctor. The better you are at communicating your expectations, as well as your concerns, the more likely you are to achieve the desired results. Be prepared to discuss why you want to have an abdominoplasty, as well as to disclose any pertinent medical information such as past or current medical conditions, current medications and prior surgeries. During your visit your surgeon may take photographs for your medical chart and discuss with you your options for surgery, as well as any possible risks and complications.

Aftercare

Following your Tummy Tuck, you will likely experience pain and discomfort and will likely require pain medication to get through the first several days. Once at home, you will benefit from wearing loose fitting clothing and lying with your legs bent to reduce the amount of pressure on your abdomen. After the surgery you will likely be sent home with an elastic band covering your stomach area, which will act as a support while you heal. Two to four weeks following your surgery you may be able to return to work, however, you will need to refrain from any strenuous activity for at least 2 months. You will need to schedule a return visit to your doctor to have the stiches removed. If you experience excessive pain or bleeding or any other troublesome symptoms after your surgery, contact your doctor right away.

Undergoing an abdominoplasty is not a decision to be taken lightly. Abdominoplasty is a major surgical procedure and will have a significant recovery time. If you are considering an abdominoplasty, remember that this surgery should not be thought of as a quick fix for weight loss, but rather a last resort in the battle against stubborn belly fat and excess skin. If you are considering abdominoplasty, talk to your doctor to determine if you are a good candidate for the procedure. The best thing you can do is educate yourself and make an informed decision.

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