If you are self-conscious about loose, drooping skin around your midsection or if you have weakened abdominal muscles due to excessive weight loss or pregnancy, a tummy tuck surgery or abdominoplasty may be the best way to achieve a firmer, youthful figure. Even though it is not considered a weight reduction procedure, abdominoplasty can remove a person’s contours when exercise and diet cannot eliminate excess tummy skin.
Abdominoplasty is not the same as liposuction, although you may opt to get a liposuction along with it. Abdominoplasty is a major procedure. Thus, if you are considering it, it is important you know the facts before deciding whether to go forward.
Why do most people undergo a tummy tuck procedure?
Many patients have gained lots of benefits after undergoing a tummy tuck surgery. First, an abdominoplasty helps to eliminate significant amounts of skin and fat that has accumulated in the abdominal region. Second, it helps to tighten the rectus or vertical muscles of the abdomen, which further helps to define the tone of the abdomen. Third, abdominoplasty helps to remove a majority, if not all, stretch marks that have resulted from weight fluctuations or previous pregnancy. Generally, the outcome of the procedure better define the shape of the body and gives a more tone and defined central region to the body.
Who is an ideal candidate for abdominoplasty?
- In general, you may be an ideal candidate for abdominoplasty if:
You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
- You have a loose, drooping skin around the abdomen
- You carry excessive weight in the midsection
- You have healthy expectations of the procedure, which can be discussed with plastic surgeon
- You are committed to maintaining the results with a good diet and routine exercises
Note that tummy tuck surgery is a highly individualized cosmetic procedure, and you do it for yourself, not to fit any sort of ideal image or to fulfill the desires of some else.
What does tummy tuck surgery involve?
Depending on your expectations, a tummy tuck surgery can take anywhere from one to five hours. The complexity of the procedure will also determine whether it will be done as an outpatient or in-patient basis. Medication will be administered for your comfort during the surgical procedure. The choices include general anesthesia and intravenous sedation. Your surgeon will recommend the best option for you.
There are two major types of a tummy tuck surgery: complete or full abdominoplasty and partial or mini abdominoplasty.
A complete or full abdominoplasty is mostly used to address cases where the drooping skin and loose abdominal muscles are present below and above the belly area. During a full tummy tuck surgery, the incision is made across the lower tummy, from hip to hip, just above the pubic area. Excess skin is removed, muscles are tightened and liposuction may be done to contour the abdomen. A new location for the belly button is created to ensure it remains in its natural position. The procedure can take between two to five hours. Some procedures are outpatient based while others may need to stay in the hospital for a few nights.
Partial or Mini Abdominoplasty
A partial or mini abdominoplasty is ideal for patients with minimal loose, drooping skin below the navel. During the procedure, the doctor will not move your belly button. Instead, he or she will make a large incision across your lower tummy, separate the skin from the abdominal wall below the tummy button, remove excess fat and cut away excess skin. Finally, they will pull together the remaining skin and stitch it in place. The entire procedure may only take up to two hours, depending on your situation.
What is the recovery for an abdominoplasty?
After the surgery, you will need to take about 4 to 6 weeks off work and exercise. You may not be able to drive for a few weeks after undergoing the procedure (your plastic surgeon and insurance company will advise you about this). It may take several weeks before you see the full effects of the operation, and it takes about six weeks to fully recover.
During the recovery period, bandages or dressings will be applied to your incisions, and you may be wrapped in a compression garment or an elastic bandage support your abdomen and reduce swellings as it heels following surgery. Small, thin tubes may be placed temporarily under your skins to drain any excess blood or fluids that may accumulate.
More importantly, you should avoid strenuous activities in the first few weeks after the operation, to avoid putting a strain on your stitches. After the first one or two weeks, your doctor will carry out a wound check. At the sixth week, your bandage should be able to come off and you should also be able to resume to most of your normal activities.
What are the expected tummy tuck results?
The outcome of an abdominoplasty may not be very clear initially due to the swellings and your inability to stand upright. Within the first two weeks, you should be standing tall and confident with your new slimmer shape. Your tummy tuck will result in flatter, tighter abdominal contour that is proportionate with your body and weight.
You can view a few tummy tuck / abdominoplasty before and after photos below (tummy tuck photos courtesy of Allure Plastic Surgery http://www.newyorkplasticsurgeryallure.com/tummy-tuck-abdominoplasty)
What are some common side effects you should expect?
If you had a complete abdominoplasty, you will be left with a scar around your belly button. If you had a partial abdominoplasty, you will be left with a scar running across your lower tummy. It is also common after the procedure to:
- Have pains and bruises
- Have difficulties standing upright
- Feel numbness in your tummy for the first few months
- Have a temporary fluid swelling on top of the scar
- Have red, raised scars in the first five to six weeks.
Like any other surgical operation, a tummy tuck surgery can sometimes go wrong and the outcome may be what you expected. If you think the procedure was not carried out correctly or are not happy with the results, you should take up the matter with doctor who performed the operation. However, most patients who undergone a tummy tuck surgery were contented with the final results and have reaped numerous benefits.