Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Tummy tuck is also commonly as abdominoplasty.

It is a major surgical procedure to remove excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen.

It also tightens the muscles of the abdominal wall and firms the abdomen.

Tummy tuck can dramatically reduce the appearance of a protruding abdomen.

It however produces a permanent scar. You should therefore be prepared for the consequences of a permanent scar.

You may also experience a lengthy recovery period.

There are two abdominoplasty procedures;

  • Complete: This takes about two to five hours
  • Partial: This takes about one to two hours

    Both partial and complete abdominoplasty produce excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin.

    In most cases, if you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly, the results are long lasting.

    Who Needs Abdominoplasty

    Abdominoplasty can be performed on both men and women who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin that does not respond to diet or exercise.

    Tummy tuck is very helpful to women who, through multiple pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal.

    Abdominoplasty can also repair loss of skin elasticity, which often occurs with slight obesity.

    Abdominoplasty can enhance ones appearance and self-confidence. It however does not necessarily change one’s looks or make them ideal.

    Who Needs to Avoid Abdominoplasty

    It is not advisable to have tummy tuck if you intend to lose a lot of weight in the near future.

    Women who plan future pregnancies should also wait to have tummy tuck. This is because vertical muscles in the abdomen that are tightened during surgery can separate again during pregnancy.

    Patients with scarring from previous abdominal surgery are also usually advised against abdominoplasty.

    Risks associated with Abdominoplasty

    There are risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with tummy tuck.

    The postoperative complications that are likely after a tummy tuck surgery include infection and blood clots.

    Infection is normally treated with drainage and antibiotics. The risk of blood clots can be reduced by moving around soon after the surgery.

    There is also risk of poor healing which can result in conspicuous scars. This may necessitate a second operation.

    Smoking may increase the risk of complications and delay healing. It is therefore advisable for smokers to stop smoking several weeks before the surgery.

    Many successful tummy tuck operations are performed each year. Qualified plastic surgeons who are trained in body contouring normally achieve good results in abdominoplasty operations.

    Significant complications from abdominoplasty are not frequent.

    Mini Tummy Tuck (Partial Abdominoplasty)

    Partial Abdominoplasty is normally performed if your fat deposits are limited to the area below the navel. It is a less complex procedure and can often be performed on an outpatient basis.

    Partial or complete abdominoplasty done in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips may be done to achieve a better body contour. Liposuction alone can also create good result.

    Preparing for Tummy Tuck

    There are specific instructions given by surgeons when preparing for abdominoplasty. These include guidelines on eating, drinking, smoking, taking certain vitamins and medications.

    It is recommended that you stop smoking at least three weeks before your surgery. Do not to resume smoking for at least three weeks after your surgery. Smokers have a greater risk of skin loss and wound healing complications.

    Aspirin and some anti-inflammatory drugs can cause increased bleeding. You should avoid taking these medications for a period before surgery.

    It is also recommended that you avoid overexposure to the sun especially to your abdomen before the surgery. Overexposure to the sun can hamper your ability to heal. A stringent diet can also hinder your ability to heal.

    Developing a cold or infection of any kind before the surgery can lead to postponement of the abdominoplasty operation.

    Abdominoplasty Surgery

    Both partial and complete abdominoplasty can be performed in an outpatient surgery. However, some surgeons prefer the hospital where a patient can stay for several days.

    Partial abdominoplasty takes an hour or two while complete abdominoplasty normally takes two to five hours.

    The surgeon makes a long incision from hipbone to hipbone above the pubic area. Another incision is made to free the navel from surrounding tissue.

    The incision will be made to ensure scarring is hidden by underwear or swimwear.

    In partial abdominoplasty, the incision is much shorter and the navel may not be moved, although it may be pulled into an unnatural shape, as the skin is tightened and stitched.

    The surgeon then separates the skin from the abdominal wall all the way up to your ribs and lifts a large skin flap to reveal the vertical muscles in your abdomen.

    These muscles are tightened by pulling them close together and stitching them into their new position. This provides a firmer abdominal wall and narrows the waistline.

    The skin flap is then stretched down and the extra skin is removed. A new hole is cut for your navel, which is then stitched in place. Finally, the incisions will be stitched, dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site.

    In partial abdominoplasty, the skin is separated only between the incision line and the navel. This skin flap is stretched down, the excess is removed, and the flap is stitched back into place.

    After Surgery Care

    Your abdomen may be swollen for the first few days and you are likely to feel some pain and discomfort. These can be controlled by medication.

    You may be released from hospital within a few hours or you may have to remain hospitalised for up to three days depending on the extent of the surgery.

    Your will be given instructions for showering and changing your dressings by your doctor.

    You may not be able to stand straight at first but you should start walking soon.

    Surface stitches are normally removed in five to seven days.

    Rest Period

    Recovery from abdominoplasty will be much faster for those with strong abdominal muscles.

    You may be able to return to work after only two weeks. You however need three or four weeks to rest and recuperate.

    Exercise will help you heal better. Exercise also reduces swelling, lowers the chances of blood clots, and tones muscles. Vigorous exercise 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. While they will never disappear completely, abdominal scars will not show under most clothing including bathing suits.

    Side Effects of Abdominoplasty

    Patients may experience temporary pain, bruising, swelling, soreness, or numbness in the abdominal skin for several weeks or several months after the surgery.

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