Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck)
Abdominoplasty, also popular as ‘tummy tuck’ or abdominal tuck, is a widely applied aesthetic surgical procedure including a removal of the excessive skin and accumulated fat around the lower and middle abdomen. The goal is to tighten the abdominal wall muscles and make the abdomen firmer and flatter, reducing significantly the tummy effect.
Who is a good candidate for abdominoplasty?
The abdominal tuck produces excellent results in patients with abdominal deformity. The surgery is recommended to men and women with excess of fat around their abdominal area that cannot be reduced with the help of diet or exercise. Patients who normally undergo this type of plastic surgery are women with loose skin after pregnancy or people who as a result of serious weight loss have experienced sagging of their abdominal skin. The abdominoplasty has proven to be especially beneficial for women who have gone through two or more pregnancies. Elderly patients can also consider abdominal tuck to improve their reduced skin elasticity.
Who is not suitable for an abdominoplasty surgery?
Patients who plan to lose weight or women who intend to give birth should delay undergoing an abdominoplasty and have the procedure only after they have stabilized the desired weight or respectively delivered their child. Another case when doctors may advise not to have an abdominal tuck surgery is when the patient has previously undergone similar procedure.
The procedure can improve significantly your body contours and outer appearance and also contribute to regaining your self-confidence. Please note however that the results of an abdominal tuck surgery may not always match to your ideal. Therefore it is essential that you can have a realistic expectation about the outcome of the procedure before initiating it. An open discussion with your surgeon about the possibilities and limitations of the surgery will help you a lot in this direction
Just like any other surgical intervention, the tummy tuck leaves post operational scars that may reach from one hip to the other, depending on the scale of surgical intervention. A scar left after a full abdominoplasty is normally twice longer than the mark left after a caesarean section, while the incision performed during a partial abdominoplasty is much smaller and results into a shorter scar.
Before the procedure
Eating and drinking, smoking and activity rules will be advised by your physician prior to the operation. It will be good if you could quit or reduce to minimum your smoking habits for two weeks before and after the surgery. Too much sun exposure or being on a strict diet will prolong the recovery period. Patient should be healthy (no flue or infection) in order to undergo the surgery.
During your first examination at the clinic the surgeon will analyse the dispersion of fat amounts around your abdominal area. This is essential for determining the type of surgical intervention required for achieving the best results. For example if the excess deposits are concentrated in the lower abdomen, a partial abdominoplasty also known as mini abdominoplasty may be recommended. The mini-abdominal tuck is generally preferred by women who want to deal with the post-pregnancy tummy. Compared to full abdominoplasty it generates less visible scars and patient may leave the clinic the very same day. Sometimes if there is no sagging, even a less invasive procedure such as liposuction may be enough to do away with the fat accumulated on the hips. Enhanced results can be attained when a combination of an abdominoplasty and a liposuction is applied. The doctor will also examine the colour of your skin and perform a general evaluation of your health condition. It is obligatory to inform the surgeon if you are a smoker or obeying any type of medication or vitamin regimen.
The surgery is normally carried out under general anaesthesia and you will be asleep during the whole procedure. Up to the scale of the planned surgery, abdominoplasty may last in between two and four hours, while partial abdominoplasty goes on for not more than one or two hours. The surgeon performs a horizontal incision in the lower abdomen just above the pubic area so that any post-operational scars remain hidden beneath the upper line of your underwear. The size of the incision depends on the looseness of the skin and the volume of excess skin scheduled for removal. A tiny drainage tube is inserted to drain the extra fluid from the lower and the middle abdomen. The skin is detached from the abdominal wall and the surgeon pulls the muscle sheets towards the middle and sutures them in order to strengthen their structure and to attain a tighter abdomen and reduced waist line. This way the separation of the abdominal muscles is rectified. The saggy abdominal skin is pulled down and the redundant skin is removed. During a full abdominoplasty procedure a second incision is made to free the bellybutton from the surrounding tissue. A new belly button is created and sutured in a new position. During a min-abdominoplasty the bellybutton doesn’t change its position. Towards the end of the procedure the openings are closed aesthetically with invisible sutures.
Following the procedure the skin sutures are taken off in one week. The patient may be required to wear abdominal supporting clothes such as a special corset for a period of three weeks. An overnight stay at the clinic may be necessary, on some occasions patient may be hospitalized for two days according to the surgeon’s recommendations. For the first two days after the operation your abdominal area will be swollen and it is possible to feel some pain and discomfort which can be easily suppressed with a simple analgesic. During the first couple of days you may find it difficult to stand up straight and may need some assistance for taking short walks. Patients normally return back to work after 15 days and get back to a more active and sport life no sooner than three weeks. Physical exercises for strengthening the abdominal area may be prescribed for faster recovery. Although the pot-operational scars may seem to get worse during the first six months after the procedure, it will be necessary at least nine months or a year for them to heal completely and start fading away.
Provided that an abdominoplasty procedure is carried out by a certified and experienced plastic surgeon, quite positive and naturally looking results can be achieved in patients with protruded abdomen and weak abdominal wall muscles. After the surgery, you will have a tight and flat abdomen. Permanent scars remain discrete and fade with time. For long lasting results it is recommended that you follow strictly the doctor’s prescriptions regarding a balanced diet and a regular exercise.
Although thousands of tummy tuck operations are completed successfully each year just like any other surgical intervention this one involves risks and complications as well. The latter can be best avoided when the patient follows strictly the physician advices about the do’s and do not’s before and after the surgery, especially when it comes to physical activities. Patients should know that smoking increases the risk of complications and the duration of the recovery period. Very rare but possible complications include delayed healing, bleeding, infection and congestion due to embolism. One can reduce the risk of embolism by resuming walking as soon as possible after the operation. While physical exercises minimize the risk of blood clot, one should avoid strenuous activities during the recovery period.