Abdominoplasty, or a “tummy tuck,” is designed to correct excessive skin and fat as a result of weight gain or pregnancy. Obesity causes the skin to lose its elasticity. These conditions may not respond well to diet or exercise if the skin and underlying muscles have been stretched. Even some of the thinnest patients have excessive skin that they just can’t remove.
We will take a complete medical history and conduct a careful examination to evaluate your general, overall health. Patients on a weight-loss plan should be close to their target weight before having the operation. Women planning future pregnancies should delay abdominoplasty, as pregnancy may promote further abdominal stretching. I consider age, obesity and smoking habits when evaluating a candidate for this procedure. Patients who are obese or who smoke are a significantly higher risk of wound healing problems. To minimize the possibility of excess bleeding, you will need to avoid taking drugs containing aspirin or any teas, alcohol, or herbal medications. You will also be advised to bathe with an antiseptic soap for several days prior to surgery.
Abdominoplasty is performed using general anesthesia. The surgery may take 4-5 hours.
The procedure is most commonly performed by making a gentle curvedshaped incision below one hipbone, across the pubic area and under the other hipbone. I encourage my patients to bring an underwear or bikini bottom they wear so I can try to hide the incision under it. A second incision is made around the belly button to free it. The skin is then separated from the abdominal wall and lifted up to the hipbone, exposing loose tissue covering the abdominal muscle.
Loose, stretched out muscles are tightened with sutures, and excess skin and fat are removed. The skin is lowered over the abdomen and the new belly button is reconstructed. I consider the belly button to be one of the most important parts of the procedure. I take extra time to make a beautiful oval shaped depressed belly button – this involves several sutures that tether the belly button to the underlying muscle as well as thinning the fat around it to make a nice dip above it. The incisions are then sutured together. Drains are placed for 1-2 wk.
This is a young mom of 4 who had a a lot of excess skin of her abdomen.
This patient had lost about 80 pounds with lap band. Abdominoplasty with liposuction helped remove the excess fat and skin.
This mom of three had a much improved contoured abdomen and belly button after her abdominoplasty
This patient had excess skin and fat which she wanted removed
This woman had tummy tuck with liposuction to the flanks
Recovery: What to Expect
You may experience some discomfort immediately following surgery that can be controlled with pain pills. Some swelling is normal. You will wear an abdominal binder or compression garment to support your abdomen. Most of my patients feel back to normal at around 1 week.
The speed of recovery depends on your physical condition prior to surgery; those with stronger abdominal muscles usually recover faster. Allow at least 2-4 weeks to recuperate before returning to work. Wait at least 4 weeks to start any strenuous exercise and 6 weeks to do abdominal exercises. However it is EXTREMELY important to start walking immediately after surgery. One of the few but most serious complications after abdominoplasty is a blood clot in the legs that can travel to the lungs. Prior to surgery, please make plans to have someone help you ambulate after surgery. Scars take about 12 months to fade..
Though the recovery period is longer than that of other cosmetic procedures, the rewards are great for a patient who are distressed by their excessive skin and fat. My patients feel that they can finally fit into clothes that they like. They feel much more confident in a bathing suit or bikini. The extra hanging skin that kept them from getting dressed up in their favorite dress before pregnancy is no longer there. It is rewarding for me to call my abdominoplasty patients the first summer after their surgery to hear about the new summer clothes and bathing suits they are looking forward to wearing.