A flat and well-toned abdomen is something many of us strive for through exercise and weight control. Sometimes these methods cannot achieve our goals.
Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include:
Also known as abdominoplasty, a tummy tuck removes excess fat and skin from the abdominal region, and in most cases tightens weakened or separated muscles, creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer. The result is a slimmer, trimmer appearance and a flatter abdomen. Candidates include men and women who have some excess skin and fat concentrated in the abdominal region, but are otherwise in relatively good shape.
The best candidates for abdominoplasty are men or women who are in relatively good shape but are bothered by a large fat deposit or loose abdominal skin that won’t respond to diet or exercise. The surgery is particularly helpful to women who, through multiple pregnancies, have stretched their abdominal muscles and skin beyond the point where they can return to normal. Loss of skin elasticity in older patients, which frequently occurs with slight obesity, can also be improved.
The procedure involves a lower abdominal “bikini line” incision that extends from hipbone to hipbone. The skin and fat is then separated from the abdominal muscles up to the ribs. The muscles of the abdomen are tightened, the skin is then stretched down, and any extra skin is excised. A new opening is cut for the navel, which is then stitched in place. Finally, the incisions will be stitched, dressings will be applied, and a temporary tube may be inserted to drain excess fluid from the surgical site.
The abdominoplasty operation is generally performed in an outpatient setting under general anesthesia or IV sedation. It may take around 3-4 hours depending on the amount of tissue to be removed. The patient will need to wear an abdominal binder or compression garment for 4-6 weeks after surgery.
A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program.
Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies may be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.
Thousands of abdominoplasties are performed successfully each year. When done by a qualified plastic surgeon who is trained in body contouring, the results are generally quite positive. Nevertheless, there are always risks associated with surgery and specific complications associated with this procedure.
Poor healing, which results in conspicuous scars, may necessitate a second operation. Smokers should be advised to stop, as smoking greatly increases the risk of complications and delays healing.
You can reduce your risk of complications by closely following your surgeon’s instructions before and after the surgery, especially with regard to when and how you should resume physical activity.
The success and safety of your tummy tuck procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You’ll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires, and lifestyle.
If your abdominoplasty is performed on an outpatient basis, be sure to arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and to stay with you for at least the first night following surgery. You will not be able to drive yourself until you are no longer taking pain medication.
For the first few days, your abdomen will probably be swollen and you’re likely to feel some pain and discomfort which can be controlled by medication. We will give you instructions for bathing and changing your dressings. And though you may not be able to stand straight at first, you should start walking as soon as possible.
It may take you weeks or months to feel like your old self again. If you start out in top physical condition with strong abdominal muscles, recovery from abdominoplasty will be much faster. Some people return to work after two weeks, while others take three or four weeks to rest and recuperate.
Massage will help you heal better and reduce swelling. Light walking exercise will also help you heal, lower the chance of blood clots, and tone muscles. Vigorous exercise, however, should be avoided.
Abdominoplasty, whether partial or complete, produces excellent results for patients with weakened abdominal muscles or excess skin. And in most cases, the results are long lasting, if you follow a balanced diet and exercise regularly.
If you’re realistic in your expectations and prepared for the consequences of a permanent scar and you understand the recovery period, abdominoplasty may be just the answer for you.