What is a tummy tuck (Abdominoplasty)?
Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck is a surgical procedure used to improve the appearance of the tummy area while removing excess skin and fat, often bringing the abdominal muscles closer together to provide a flatter, more contoured look.
Tummy Tuck – Advantages
The operation is a cosmetic surgical procedure that allows for shaping and sculpting when athletic activity is not enough to provide the ultimate desired results in terms of the appearance of the abdomen. This can be a problem area for many due to aging, genetics, pregnancy/pregnancies, abdominal surgeries in the past, and changes in weight.
Who is a good candidate for a tummy tuck?
- If you are uncomfortable about the appearance of your belly.
- If your weight is stable.
- If you have excess skin and fat that form a fold at the lower part of your belly.
During the consult we will get to know one another and we will discuss:
- The reasons you are interested in having a tummy tuck, what expectations you have, what results you are looking to achieve and what can be done realistically to improve the appearance of your tummy. (By coordinating expectations, we can increase your satisfaction and alleviate any anxiety you may have regarding the procedure.)
- Your health status and medical history, including any drug sensitivities you might have or what medication, if any, you take regularly and whether or not you smoke cigarettes.
- Any history you may have of blood clots.
- During the consult, you will undergo an examination of your abdomen including a hernia examination. You will receive a comprehensive explanation regarding the procedure, where the scars will be located and the recovery process.
- It is natural to feel anxious or excited prior to our consultation. Understanding the process will help reduce anxiety. You are welcome to ask any questions you may have and discuss any worries during the consultation.
How do I prepare for the procedure?
- We ask that you have laboratory tests prior to the procedure.
- In some cases, you will be asked to have an abdominal ultrasound.
- In the event that you are taking medication on a regular basis, we will determine if it should be adjusted for the procedure.
- Avoid taking blood-thinning medications such as aspirin for the two weeks leading up to the procedure and avoid taking anti-inflammatory medications such as Nurofen, vitamin E and Omega 3 for two weeks prior to the procedure (as they can increase the risk of bleeding during the procedure).
- Cigarette smoking must be stopped at least one month prior to the procedure and for at least one month following the procedure.
- Please arrange for a companion (friend/family member) to pick you up from the hospital after the procedure and to stay with you for at least one night following the procedure.
Steps of Abdominoplasty
Step 1: Anesthesia
The procedure is performed under general anesthesia.
Step 2: Liposuction
In most cases, liposuction will be performed in the belly and hip areas.
Step 3: The Incision
A horizontal incision will be made along the lower abdomen (below the panty line) and around the navel. The skin and fat over the muscles up to the rib cage is then lifted.
Step 4: Repairing Abdominal Muscle Separation
When there is a separation between the abdominal muscles, the muscles are stitched together in order to give the belly a flatter appearance.
Step 5: Removal of excess skin and suturing of the incisions
- The excess skin below the navel is removed.
- The incision is sutured in layers with dissolvable stitches only.
- There is no need to have the stitches removed.
- The incisions will be covered with a dressing.
- The location of the scar will be determined based on the extent of the liposuction performed and will be explained during the consultation.
Step 6: The Results
The results are immediate however the final outcome will be apparent only after a number of months, once all of the swelling in the area has gone down.
What should I expect from the recovery process?
- A dressing or surgical tape will be placed over the incisions at the end of the procedure.
- Drains (small tubes connected to a drainage container) will be inserted into the surgical site during the procedure in order to drain any fluid that might build up in the area following the operation. The drains are typically left in place for 2-4 days.
- At the end of the procedure, you will be transferred to recovery and from there to the ward for an overnight stay. You will be discharged the following morning.
- Prior to being discharged, you will receive postoperative instructions.
- You must wear an elastic belt for 6 weeks following the procedure. The purpose of the elastic belt is to reduce swelling as much as possible during the recovery process and support the abdominal muscles.
- Avoid athletic activities during the first 6 weeks after the procedure with the exception of walking.
- You may take pain medication according to the detailed postoperative instructions you receive. Most patients take pain medication for 2-6 days following the procedure.
- You will receive anticoagulant shots every day for a week following the procedure to prevent blood clots.
- Update your physician regarding any changes in your health status.
- Postoperative follow-up visits will be scheduled during the 1st month, 3 months, 6 months and 12 months after the procedure.