A Tummy Tuck, or abdominoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes excess skin and fat from the abdominal area (stomach). It tightens the ‘six pack’ muscle to increase the tone and corrects any bulging hernias and separated stomach muscles. It makes the abdomen flat, firm and youthful especially after the effects of pregnancy, childbirth and weight gain. In fact, 97% of patients on realself.com who've had the procedure said it was "worth it". In this blog I’ll discuss when the surgery is used, the different types of surgery, an overview of how it’s done and what to expect afterwards.
When is this surgery used?
Contrary to popular belief the surgery is generally not used for weight loss. Instead it is used when diet and exercise have failed but the individual is still bothered by the excessive overhanging skin.
Prior to the surgery, the patient will be assessed physically by the treating plastic surgeon. A full medical history will be used. This is to determine whether any current or previous health conditions or medications may interfere with the surgery, or with other aspects of the surgery such as the anaesthesia or post-surgical care.
What types of tummy tucks are there?
There are two different types; full abdominoplasty and partial (mini) abdominoplasty.
- Full abdominoplasty: Removes excess skin, tightens the muscles that lay beneath the skin of the stomach and repositions the umbilicus (belly button).
- Partial abdominoplasty: Removes excess skin and tightens the muscles of the stomach below the belly button area only.
In most cases the surgery is performed under a general anaesthetic and the length of time it takes to complete the operation is on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, most tummy tucks are completed within three to four hours.
What happens during the procedure?
During a full abdominoplasty the surgeon will make a curved, horizontal incision, which runs from one hip to the other, and sits near the pubic hairline. Once the incision is made, the skin and fatty tissue are separated from the underlying muscle tissue. The surgeon will then stitch and tighten loose or separated abdominal muscles. Once this has occurred, the surgeon then removes excess fat and excess skin is trimmed. The navel is repositioned and the surgical wound is closed with stitches, clips or tape.
What happens after the procedure?
Once the surgical wound is closed a drainage tube, or tubes, may be inserted into the wound to assist in preventing a build up of fluid. Bandages or dressings are usually applied to the area and compression garments may be worn to prevent excess swelling. Patients often experience bruising and swelling, numbness in the skin between the wound and navel, a tugging sensation at the stomach, inability to stand up straight to begin with, and general pain and discomfort. Patients stay in hospital for 3 – 5 days. For optimal results the abdominal binder or compression garment should be worn for 4- 6 weeks. In the first 2 weeks only light activities are allowed. However over the next 4 weeks a gradual return to normal activities is the norm. After 6 weeks most activities can be undertaken including going to the gym.
As a tummy tuck is an invasive surgical procedure, it is important to weigh up the risks and benefits with your treating plastic surgeon. They will guide you on which option is best for your situation.
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