Abdominoplasty (Tummy Tuck)
Abdominoplasty or “tummy tuck” is a surgical procedure that is designed to treat:
- Excess skin
- Excess fat tissue
- Muscle bulging in the abdomen due to:
- Weight fluctuations
Who Is a Candidate?
Generally, patients are women between the ages of 30 and 60 who want a flat and attractive contour of the abdomen, but men also can have the procedure. While typically an aesthetic enhancement, an abdominoplasty can be performed as part of a panniculectomy (removal of excess skin from the lower abdomen) after massive weight loss surgery. Working with other surgical specialists, this procedure can be done in conjunction with a gynecological procedure, such as a hysterectomy, or with a urologic or general surgical procedure.
Before the Procedure
Your plastic surgeon will perform a comprehensive evaluation of your abdominal area including a detailed history of:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Previous abdominal surgeries
Some of the specific instructions you’ll receive about preparing for surgery include:
- Smoking cessation
- Medications to avoid
- When to take your prescribed medications
- Proper washing techniques
- Restrictions regarding eating and drinking the night before surgery
You and your plastic surgeon will discuss the concerns you have about your current abdominal shape and your goals regarding the abdominoplasty procedure. There are different variations of abdominoplasty procedures that include short or long incisions, and differences in areas of muscle tightening. Liposuction of the abdominal wall or in the hip and flank regions may be appropriate for some patients.
Your surgeon will decide which procedure is best based upon your goals and anatomic issues. The approximate location of the incisions and scars will be outlined directly on your skin or on a diagram.
Finally, your surgeon will perform a careful evaluation of your overall health as well as issues that could cause complications, such as:
- Your blood pressure
- Bleeding tendencies
- Blood clotting disorders
- History of adverse scar formation after previous surgeries
Where Will the Surgery be Performed?
An abdominoplasty usually is done in a hospital as outpatient surgery, and you must be driven to and from the hospital by a friend or family member. Your surgeon may want you to stay one night in the hospital to recover the help of skilled nurses.
Type of Anesthesia
An abdominoplasty usually is performed under general anesthesia however, certain types of lower abdominoplasties or “mini” abdominoplasties can be performed under local anesthesia with the use of intravenous sedation.
Immediate Postoperative Recovery
In most cases, you may experience pain for 24 to 72 hours. Swelling can occur in the abdominal wall tissue but this usually resolves within a month of surgery.
You will be encouraged to get out of bed the night of surgery, and should be able to walk slowly by the next day. Most patients can go out in public within three to five days. Patients generally are asked to take at least a week off from work, but those who have highly physical jobs may require more time off.
Suction drains routinely are used following abdominoplasty procedures to help with normal healing. These drains are simple to care for and patients will be given instructions at the time of discharge.
You may be instructed in the use of an elastic abdominal binder to keep the area comfortable with gentle pressure. Vigorous physical activity is limited for four weeks following surgery.
An abdominoplasty typically enhances the appearance of your abdomen but it is considered major surgery. You should think carefully about your expectations, and talk with your plastic surgeon about your goals. In addition to the risks associated with anesthesia, there will be:
- Complications including:
- Seromas (collections of fluid beneath the abdominal skin)
- Asymmetry of the abdomen
Not every person is a candidate for this procedure, and your risks may be greater or different than those of other patients. Your plastic surgeon will review all potential risks and complications with you prior to the surgery.
Abdominoplasty usually produces a rejuvenated, more youthful and attractive abdominal shape.