A protruding abdomen can be a cause of distress for men and women alike. It can be the result of excess fat, weak abdominal muscles, pregnancy, or loose skin that has been over-stretched and no longer responds to diet and exercise. For those who have experienced a massive weight loss, their only alternative to loose overhanging skin is surgery.
A Tummy Tuck or abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to flatten a protruding abdomen by tightening the muscles in the abdominal wall and removing excess fatty tissue and skin. The procedure is a common one and can benefit men and women who are bothered by a protruding abdomen.
Patients that have stabilized in their weight loss program or who feel they are at their ideal weight are the best candidates for a tummy tuck. Many patients combine their tummy tuck with other cosmetic procedures such as liposuction, breast augmentation or breast reduction surgery.
Are you a good candidate?
During your private consultation with your surgeon, you should explain your goals and expectations of the surgery. Your surgeon will assess the nature of your abdomen, your expectations, and explain the probable outcome of your procedure.
You will be shown several before and after treatment photographs of patients having similar abdomens, and your surgeon will explain the treatment and the results you can expect to receive.
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. If you have scarring from previous abdominal surgery, your doctor may recommend against abdominoplasty or may caution you that scars could be unusually prominent.
What will my recovery be like?
Bed rest is recommended for the first day. Most patients experience some numbness in the area of their abdomen, which may last as long as a year. Any pain or discomfort that follows surgery can be controlled with oral medication. If drains are used, they may remain in place for three to seven days until discharge fluids decrease. Sutures will be removed in 1 – 2 weeks, however, your bandages may remain a little longer. A special abdominal support garment is often necessary for several weeks. There will be some scarring that will fade significantly over time. During your recovery, you must refrain from any strenuous activity or lifting. Most patients are back to work within one to three weeks, depending on the degree of surgery. Your surgeon will decide when you can resume normal activities.
Results can be quite dramatic, and patients love their slimmer, trimmer figures and flatter abdomens!
There are three basic techniques used to flatten a protuberant abdomen. The best technique for you will depend largely on your goals and your specific problem. Liposuction alone can produce a thin abdominal wall for some. If your laxity and excess skin is below your navel, a mini tummy tuck may be right for you. For those with severe laxity of their abdominal muscle or excessive skin, a full tummy tuck may be their only solution.
A tummy tuck is usually performed on an outpatient basis under general anesthesia with the patient asleep, or with spinal anesthesia. A full tummy tuck involves an incision around the belly button and another incision that runs from hip to hip (red line). Your entire abdominal wall is tightened with permanent sutures, and the excess skin and fat is removed.
A mini tummy tuck (blue line) is usually performed in conjunction with liposuction of the upper abdomen and the flank areas. With a mini tummy tuck, a smaller incision is made in your bikini area and no incision is made around your belly button. Your surgeon will remove your excess skin and fat through this incision. Permanent sutures will also be placed through this incision to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall.
Regardless of which procedure you have, your incisions are closed with small sutures. Small drains may also be inserted to eliminate fluid buildup. Snug elastic bandages are then applied to the area.
Complete tummy tuck is done under general anesthesia. Mini tucks and liposuction are done under local anesthesia with some mild sedation.
What are the possible complications
Thousands of tummy tucks are performed successfully each year. When done by a qualified surgeon who is operating in our centers, the results are generally quite positive. Nevertheless, there are always some 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.
Poor healing, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a second operation. Smokers should be advised to stop for at least one week, as smoking may increase the risk of complications and delay healing.
You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your surgeon’s instructions before and after the surgery, especially with regard to when and how you should resume physical activity.
After your surgery
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 surgery, you may be released within a few hours or you may have to remain hospitalized for two to three days.
Your doctor will give you instructions for showering and changing your dressings. And though you may not be able to stand straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible.
Exercise will help you heal better. Even people who have never exercised before should begin an exercise program to reduce swelling, lower the chance of blood clots, and tone muscles. Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided until you can do it comfortably.
Your scars may actually appear to worsen during the first three to six months as they heal, but this is normal. Expect it to take nine months to a year before your scars flatten out and lighten in color. While they’ll never disappear completely, abdominal scars will not show under most clothing, even under bathing suits.
Your new look
A tummy tuck, 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.
If you have wondered if you could benefit from a Tummy Tuck call our center to arrange a private consultation with our surgeon.