Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)
What is a Tummy Tuck
An abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a procedure that removes excess fat and skin of the abdomen, and in most cases restores core abdominal muscles that have been overstretched or separated. Often times an individual has excess or sagging skin due to weight loss or history of pregnancy. This procedure creates an abdomen that is flatter and firmer. Patients who have had an abdominoplasty describe a high satisfaction rate, and many wish they had had the procedure earlier had they known what results were possible.
Before your Tummy Tuck
It is important to meet with a board-certified plastic surgeon for an initial consultation. During this visit, the plastic surgeon will evaluate the patient by asking questions about the patient’s past medical and surgical history, the medications or supplements she may be taking, and the motivation for seeking surgical intervention. Once a patient is determined to be appropriate, the surgeon will evaluate the patient’s abdomen and surgical goals to decide what techniques might be most suitable for the patient. The plastic surgeon will explain in detail what this procedure can and cannot correct in order to make sure that the patient has realistic goals and expectations. During her consultation, a patient will also learn about probable outcomes and any potential risks or complications associated with the abdominoplasty procedure.
Preparing for your Tummy Tuck Procedure
Patients should begin preparing for surgery two to four weeks before the procedure is scheduled. The plastic surgeon will require that patients avoid all nicotine sources and avoid taking aspirin or other blood thinning medication. The plastic surgeon will also send the patient for pre-operative labs and testing to make sure that she is appropriate for surgery. Medications are prescribed to take both before and after the procedure.
The day before surgery, it is important that patients thoroughly bathe and get plenty of rest. Patients should also arrange to be accompanied by a friend or family member who can drive them home after surgery. It is also important for patients to carefully follow any pre-operative instructions given to them by the plastic surgeon to ensure for a successful surgery and a smooth recovery.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
The procedure itself will take approximately two to three hours and will require the use of general anesthesia. Once the patient is asleep, the plastic surgeon will make a horizontal incision between the naval and the pubic hairline. The length of the incision is mainly determined by the degree of necessary contouring. Once the incision is made, the separated abdominal muscles are repaired and sutured into shape, and the excess fat, tissue and skin are excised. It is possible that a small circular incision may need to be made around the naval if there is excessive skin in the upper abdomen. Lastly, the incisions are closed. Many women ask if an existing cesarean section scar may be revised or removed by the abdominoplasty incision, and frequently it is done whenever possible. Other procedures may be combined with the abdominoplasty if deemed appropriately safe by the surgeon.
Recovering from your Tummy Tuck Procedure
Following your procedure, dressings will be applied to the incisions and the patient will be wrapped in a compression garment to minimize bruising and swelling, and to support the abdomen as it heals. The patient will need to wear this garment for several weeks after her procedure for best results. The patient will also have small thin tubes in place to drain any small amounts blood or fluid that may collect. These drains are removed in the office at one of your post-operative follow up appointments approximately ten days after the procedure. The plastic surgeon will provide instructions and prescribe medicines to alleviate most of the post-operative discomfort. Most patients return to work in two to four weeks depending upon the type of physical activity they perform (i.e. desk job versus heavy lifting).