A tummy tuck, or abdominoplasty, is one of the most common cosmetic surgery procedures performed today. Factors such as multiple pregnancies, genetics and even substantial weight loss can contribute to the development of loose skin, fat deposits, and stretch marks in the abdominal region.
To smooth out the abdomen, the surgeon makes a low abdominal incision across the pubic area, from hip to hip, and sometimes from the navel down. The excess skin is then pulled over the abdomen, cut and removed. The navel remains intact and attached to the abdominal wall so the surgeon must make a new opening that is in proportion to your new stomach. If loose skin and muscle weakness are limited to the area below the navel, a slightly different procedure – which usually leaves a smaller scar and no scarring around the navel – may be performed.
Abdominoplasty can be combined with liposuction to help reduce the areas of fat accumulation. Patients that are obese or have excessive loose skin may need modification surgery called a Panniculectomy. This procedure tightens the loose skin of the abdomen and repairs weak muscles of the abdomen wall.
Approximately three nights.
Four to six hours
Before surgery please inform your surgeon of any allergies, all medical conditions, and any medication that you are taking (both prescription and non-prescription). To eliminate the chance of post op. bleeding you should avoid aspirin and any medication containing aspirin or brufen for two weeks prior to surgery. You should also not smoke for 2 weeks prior to surgery as smoking can affect your reaction to the anaesthetic and slow down the healing process. Patients that suffer from hypertension must inform the surgeon prior to surgery.
After surgery you will have to stay in bed for approximately 3 days. Whilst in bed you will be advised to lay with your legs in a bent position to help reduce the strain on the abdominal area. The abdomen may be dressed with bandages and you will experience some pulling across the abdomen. A light surgical support garment must be worn for approximately 3 months to support the tightened area following surgery. You may not be able to stand straight for some time due to the pulling, but it is important that you start walking for short periods as soon as possible after surgery. This will help to normalize the blood flow. Surface sutures are removed after approximately 5 days and deeper sutures may remain for up to 7 days before being removed.
Your surgeon will give you directions on bathing and changing your dressing. The extent of the post operative swelling and bruising depends on whether you tend to bruise or swell easily. Every person is different. It is important not to perform any strenuous activity after surgery to avoid putting unnecessary strain on the wound. Tension can stretch your incisions and increase scarring. Your surgeon will discuss with you when you can return to your normal daily activities.
The recovery period is usually about 2 weeks. While there may still be some swelling and bruising, most people are happy with the result and return to work after approximately 4 weeks. You should consult your surgeon as to when you may return to work.
Risks are inherent to any surgical procedure. The most common risks are swelling, bruising, bleeding, infection, fluid, scarring, numbness, or a change in sensation to the affected area – this should improve after nerve damage has repaired itself, which may take up to 12 months. The most common risk particular to this surgery is long and heavy scarring. The incision may heal slowly causing crusting and scabbing along the scar. As this is considered a major operation you may also suffer the risk of blood clots. All precautions are taken to avoid these risks. Once the healing process is complete, it is essential to maintain a balanced diet. An unhealthy diet will invariably lead to weight gain which will stretch the skin and increase the possibility of heavy, permanent scarring. In most cases abdominoplasty produces excellent results, and with a balanced diet and regular exercise, the results are long lasting.