A tummy tuck, called abdominoplasty in the medical field, is a cosmetic surgical procedure performed on adult men and women that removes excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdominal area and tightens the muscles in the abdominal wall. A tummy tuck can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen. However, it will create a permanent scar on the bikini line. This scar will fade over time but will never completely disappear.
A tummy tuck is particularly popular among women who have completed their families, as well as both men and women who have lost weight. After pregnancy, you may find your abdominal muscles have become saggy and the tummy skin to be soft and wrinkled. This will not disappear with exercise. As the abdominal muscles are stretched they will not return to their original, taut position without a surgical intervention to tighten them. Although a tummy tuck may be done after weight loss, bear in mind that if you have lost a great deal of weight, you may benefit more from a body lift which will not only take care of the tummy area but the hips and buttocks as well. The final decision on which procedure is best for you will be covered in your consultation with your surgeon.
An incision is made from hipbone to hipbone, just above the pubic area but hidden in a bikini line.
The skin is separated from the abdominal wall up to the ribs and the skin is lifted to reveal the vertical muscles.
The muscles are pulled together and stitched into a new position to create a nice, tight abdominal wall. This will do wonders to narrow your waistline!
After the muscles are pulled together, the skin is pulled back down. The excess skin is removed and a new spot is created for your belly button, which is then sutured into place.
The incisions are then closed with dissolvable sutures and a dressing applied. Usually two temporary drainage tubes will be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgery site. This tube is removed about a week after your procedure. Pain pumps that secrete local anesthesia are placed into the muscles at the time of surgery. This greatly reduces the discomfort after an abdominoplasty and is removed after three days.
Since a tummy tuck is often performed after pregnancy or weight loss, we strongly recommend that you wait to have this procedure only when you have completed your family and/or lost all the weight you intend to lose, as once done, the benefits can be undone by a subsequent pregnancy or weight gain. To maintain the look of your new, flat tummy, you need to keep your weight at a constant level. It has been our experience that our patients are so ecstatic about their new look that they do very well at maintaining their weight!
There are two types of tummy tuck procedures: the partial or mini-abdominoplasty and the complete or full abdominoplasty. If most of your loose skin is below the navel, a mini-abdominoplasty may be enough correction for you. If, however, you have more significant skin excess across most of your abdomen, a complete abdominoplasty may be recommended. A full or mini- abdominoplasty may be combined with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips to create a better contour. It’s also possible that liposuction alone would create your best result. Your surgeon will discuss all this in detail at your consultation to assure that you have the procedure that’s just right for your needs.
If you are physically healthy, psychologically stable, and have realistic expectations, you will be a good candidate.
How the Procedure is Performed
Full abdominoplasty procedures are performed under general anesthesia in our Boca Raton accredited in-office surgery suite on an outpatient basis. Occasionally, by patient request or surgeon recommendation, an epidural anesthesia may be used instead of general anesthesia. A mini-abdominoplasty may be performed under IV sedation (twilight), general or epidural anesthesia. As mentioned above, a tummy tuck may be done alone or in combination with liposuction and in some cases breast augmentation. These factors will affect the total surgery time and of course, the cost for correction.
A mini-abdominoplasty uses an incision a little longer then a c-section scar placed right at the pubic hairline. Excess skin is removed and the muscles in the lower abdomen are tightened. A drain is used for a few days. The length of the tummy tuck procedure ranges from two to five hours, depending on the extent of repair needed. A partial abdominoplasty takes only an hour or two. Again, this will be covered in your consultation.
What To Expect During Recovery
For the first few days after an abdominoplasty, your abdomen will be swollen and you will have some discomfort. This can be controlled with medication and avoiding too much movement. SPS surgeons will insert a pain pump, which is terrific for avoiding discomfort. You will not be able to stand upright for a few days, but we recommend you start walking as soon as possible, even though you’ll have to walk in a bent-over position.
Any drains inserted during your procedure will stay in place from 2-7 days, depending on the amount of fluid that needs to be released. During surgery an abdominal girdle is put on, which creates compression and helps the body return any further fluids. The girdle is worn between 3-6 weeks, or longer if needed.
Your surgeon will give you instructions for showering and changing the dressing and you’ll be seen in the office in a few days post surgery. We recommend that you plan to stay off work and other regular activities for two weeks and to get some help at home if you have young children. Vigorous exercise must be avoided, but modest exercise such as walking will reduce swelling and lower the chance of blood clots as well as toning your muscles.
It can take up to 9 months, even a year, for the scars to fade and they might actually look worse during the first 3-6 months as they heal, but this is normal. Ultimately, the scar line is tiny and is hidden under your clothing and even a bikini – so try not to be too worried about the scar that remains.
Please avoid any heavy lifting or strenuous exercise such as sit-ups or crunches for at least 3 months following your procedure. We want to be certain that complete healing has taken place before embarking on an exercise regimen.
Our patients are consistently delighted with the results of an abdominoplasty! Once they feel healed and back to normal, they enjoy pulling clothes out of the closet to discover that they now fit well and going shopping for new ones!