Tummy Tuck

Mississippi Gulf Coast Board Certified Plastic Surgeon

Tummy tuck surgery, also known as abdominoplasty, removes excess fat and skin; and, in most cases, restores weakened or separated muscles creating an abdominal profile that is smoother and firmer. 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:

  • Aging
  • Heredity
  • Pregnancy
  • Prior surgery
  • Significant fluctuations in weight

Abdominoplasty, or a tummy tuck, as it is more commonly known , is a cosmetic surgery procedure that tightens the muscles and removes loose skin and fat from the abdomen so that it appears flat and toned. Mostly associated with “mommy makeovers,” it is a procedure that allows women to restore their figures after pregnancy. Abdominoplasty is also used to help patients who have undergone extreme weight loss in a short period of time. Between 2000 and 2014, the number of tummy tuck procedures rose an impressive 87 percent, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Many procedures were, no doubt, for cosmetic reasons, but there are several medical benefits to be gained after the procedure.

Improved Abdominal Tone and Better Posture

After extreme weight loss or multiple pregnancies, stomach muscles can become distended, and diet and exercise alone cannot help. A tummy tuck surgically tightens weak muscles, while removing excess skin and fat, to flatten the abdomen. Weak abdominal muscles are often associated with lordosis, or sway back. After an abdominoplasty, patients may notice that their posture has improved significantly, thanks to the tightened muscles supporting their spine. The improved support and better posture can have the added benefit of relieving certain types of back pain.

Ventral Hernia Correction

A ventral hernia occurs when the intestine or abdominal tissue breaks through the abdominal wall and forms a pocket or sack. There are several potential causes, including abdominal weakness caused by massive weight loss or surgeries like C-sections or appendectomies. The underlying symptoms that require a ventral hernia correction are remarkably similar to those for abdominoplasty. Both surgeries correct weakened abdominal muscles and pressure on the skin. No matter the cause, whether pregnancy or weight, a weak abdominal wall will allow a hernia to form. Once you develop a ventral hernia, it is very easy for it to happen again. Often, your surgeon will weigh the benefits of adding an abdominoplasty procedure to the hernia repair to strengthen the abdominal wall and prevent future occurrences. Combining the procedures is not only safe, but very practical, as it can reduce medical expenses and recovery time.

Risks and Rewards

Due to its growing popularity, many people believe that a tummy tuck is an easy procedure. It’s important for patients to realize that it is still a major operation, requiring one to five hours in the operating room, under general anesthesia. A typical abdominoplasty removes stomach fat by disconnecting the skin from the underlying tissue, suturing abdominal tissue, and cutting away any extra skin. A full recovery can take several weeks, and just like any other surgery, there are risks of infection and other complications. That said, the various medical and cosmetic benefits of a tummy tuck make the procedure appealing for many people. Interested patients should discuss the procedure in detail with their surgeon and consider all the advice before deciding whether to undergo surgery.

In general, you may be a good tummy tuck candidate if:

  • You are physically healthy and at a stable weight
  • You have realistic expectations
  • You are a non-smoker
  • You are bothered by the appearance of your abdomen

Tummy tuck surgery is a highly individualized procedure and you should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else’s desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image. 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 would be advised to postpone a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised. A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised.

During your tummy tuck consultation be prepared to discuss:

  • Your surgical goals
  • Medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco, and drug use
  • Previous surgeries

Your tummy tuck surgeon will also:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Take photographs
  • Discuss your options
  • Recommend a course of treatment
  • Discuss likely outcomes of the tummy tuck and any risks or potential complication

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. Be sure to ask questions. The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, has prepared a checklist of questions to ask your tummy tuck surgeon that you can take with you to your consultation. It’s very important to understand all aspects of your tummy tuck procedure. It’s natural to feel some anxiety, whether it’s excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don’t be shy about discussing these feelings with Dr. Dees.

Step 1 – Anesthesia

Medications are administered for your comfort during the surgical procedures. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Dr. Dees will recommend the best choice for you.

Step 2 – The incision

A full tummy tuck requires a horizontally-oriented incision in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button. Tummy tuck incision front abdomen The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the amount of excess skin. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, the underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired. A second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen. Tummy tuck incision front abdomen sutures The upper abdominal skin is pulled down like a window shade. The excess skin is trimmed and the remaining skin is sutured together. A new opening for the belly button is created. The belly button is popped through to the surface and sutured into position. Tummy tuck side before and after

Step 3 – Closing the incisions

Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes, or clips close the skin incisions.

 

Post-Op

During your tummy tuck recovery, dressings or bandages may be applied to your incisions, and you may be wrapped in an elastic bandage or a compression garment to minimize swelling and support your abdomen as it heals following surgery. Small, thin tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess blood or fluid that may collect.

You will be given specific instructions that may include:

  • How to care for the surgical site and drains
  • Medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the potential for infection
  • Specific concerns to look for at the surgical site or in your general health
  • When to follow up with your plastic surgeon

Results and Outlook

The final results of tummy tuck surgery may be initially obscured by swelling and your inability to stand fully upright until internal healing is complete. Within a week or two, you should be standing tall and confident in your new slimmer profile. Your tummy tuck will result in a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that is more proportionate with your body type and weight.  Previous abdominal surgery may limit the potential results of a tummy tuck.

Tummy tuck scarring

The tummy tuck scar may take several months to a year to fade as much as it will.  In women who have undergone cesarean section, the existing scars may be incorporated into the new. Although good results are expected from your procedure, there is no guarantee. In some situations, it may not be possible to achieve optimal results with a single surgical procedure and another surgery may be necessary. Following your physician’s instructions is essential to the success of your surgery. It’s important that the surgical incisions are not subjected to excessive force, swelling, abrasion, or motion during the time of healing. Dr. Dees will give you specific instructions on how to care for yourself.

This material is provided by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and the American Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery. It is not intended to make any representatives or warranties about the outcome of any procedure and is not a substitute for a thorough, in-person consultation with a board-certified plastic surgeon.

It’s Free, It’s Easy!