Tummy Tuck Surgery: What You Need to Know

A tummy tuck is a cosmetic surgical procedure to remove excess fat and skin

Fat belly. Credit: Credit: imagedepotpro / Getty Images

Abdominoplasty, or tummy tuck, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that helps flatten the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin. It also tightens muscle. The best candidates for an abdominoplasty are non-smokers who are in good physical condition and at a stable weight. They will also have pockets of fat or loose skin that has not responded well to diet and exercise. Abdominoplasty is an appropriate procedure for slightly obese people who have lost elasticity in their skin and for women whose skin and muscles have been stretched from pregnancy.

Women who are planning to have more children or anyone planning on losing a significant amount of weight should wait before undergoing an abdominoplasty. Many patients undergo an abdominoplasty after pregnancy or bariatric surgery.

A partial abdominoplasty, or mini-tummy tuck, is a less invasive procedure with shorter incisions. It is ideal for those patients with fat localized in the lower part of the abdomen. The procedure produces less scarring and a shorter recovery time.

The Abdominoplasty Procedure

During the abdominoplasty procedure the patient is placed under general anesthesia. Two incisions will be made: one from the hipbone on one side to the hipbone on the other side of the body, close to the pubic area, the other incision around the navel. The skin will be separated from the abdominal muscles. The abdominal muscles are then pulled together and stitched into place for a more narrowed waist and firmer abdomen.

The separated flap of skin is then stretched over the newly tightened muscles and excess skin is removed. The navel is reattached to a position where it looks natural. The incisions are closed and a sterile dressing is applied over the area. The abdominoplasty procedure can take from two to five hours to perform.

Recovery After an Abdominoplasty

A temporary tube may be inserted under the skin to drain excess fluid from the surgical site. A compression garment is worn during the recovery period. Recovery can vary from two weeks to two months. During this time patients should avoid strenuous activity and avoid lifting heavy objects. With their doctor’s permission, patient may return to work after a week or two.

Results of an Abdominoplasty

A flatter and more toned abdominal area is noticeable right away.  As long as the patient maintains their weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise and abdominoplasty will provide long-lasting results.

Risks of an Abdominoplasty

Along with the usual risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, the risks of an abdominoplasty include the following:

  • Asymmetry
  • Scarring
  • Loose skin
  • Numbness in the skin
  • Poor results

Patients who have had previous abdominal surgery may find that their scars are raised, stretched or are more noticeable. A scar revision may address their concerns and minimize the results.

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