A tummy tuck, also called an abdominoplasty, is an optional plastic (cosmetic) surgical procedure. It is an invasive surgery, involving the removal of excess fat and skin from the lower and middle abdominal areas. It also results in tightening of abdominal wall muscles.
The surgery reduces the appearance of a protrusive abdomen dramatically. It also causes a large permanent scar, extending from one hip to the other. This however depends on the extent of the procedure. If you are considering undergoing a tummy-tuck, here are pertinent tummy tuck surgery facts.
The best candidates
The most suitable candidates for this procedure are emotionally mature women and men with a relatively normal body mass index and with healthy skin elasticity who are concerned by a fatty abdomen with loose skin which is not responding to exercise or diet.This procedure is especially useful to women whose abdominal skin elasticity has been lost due to several pregnancies. It can also improve lost skin elasticity due to weight loss among older folk.
A tummy tuck procedure however depends from one patient to another. Patients intending to lose weight should wait until they have attained their target weight. Younger women who plan to bear more children should postpone since the tightened abdominal vertical muscles (due to a tummy tuck) can rupture during pregnancy. If you have deep scars due to prior abdominal procedures, your doctor may recommend skipping the procedure because of the chances of getting deep unsightly scars.
The attendant risks
When done by an experienced and properly qualified cosmetic surgeon the results are generally excellent. However, as in all surgeries, a tummy tuck has specific potential risks including blood clots, infection and extensive scarring from poor healing. Antibiotics can be used to treat infections. Moving around immediately after surgery can help control blood clotting. Additional surgery can be used to rectify scarring and poor healing.
Selecting the right surgeon
Before opting for a tummy tuck, you must find an experienced and properly qualified, certified plastic surgeon. Check with plastic surgeon certifying boards in your area for the appropriate listing of qualified surgeons.
An experienced surgeon will interview you and examine your medical condition, history and health habits. Smoking especially can hinder healing and enhance risks of complications and you need to be honest with the surgeon if you smoke. The surgeon may also ask about the medical history of your family, especially parents and siblings.
Discuss with the surgeon about the procedure appropriate for you and what exactly it entails.
Types of tummy tucks
There are two types of tummy tucks-mini-tummy tuck and the full tummy tuck. Both procedures may involve liposuction and the cutting away of fat and skin from the abdominal areas.
A mini-tummy tuck involves making an incision above the pubic sections and removing excess skin and fat from the lower and middle abdomen. The navel is then pulled lower to make up for the removed and stretched skin. Little or no tightening of the abdominal tissues is needed and the patient recovers quite fast.
A full tummy tuck is much more invasive. It lasts from two to five hours, depending on the required scope of work. It involves separation of skin from the abdomen upwards to the ribs. An extended incision is done from hip to hip just over the pubic area. Muscles are then sewn together for tightness and a large portion of skin is removed. A new navel opening is made and the navel stitched in place. Dressings are applied and incisions stitched and closed. A temporary tube is inserted to drain excess fluids. The procedure makes the patient stay in a bent posture for up to two weeks. The patient resumes normal activity in about 3 weeks but no pushing or lifting activities which can strain stomach muscles can be done before 2 months are over.
Both surgeries are done under local or general anesthesia. A local anesthesia is comfortable and painless, but you may feel a bit of pulling and tugging. The tummy tuck surgery may be carried out in an outpatient surgery or a hospital.
The surgery aftermath and healing
After the procedure, you may experience swelling and pain and medication is given for this. Depending on the procedure you may go home after a few hours or be admitted for 3 days. The surgeon will guide you in this.
Though you will be able to stand straight after a few days, it is advisable to start walking as soon as possible to reduce scarring. By three weeks both surface and deeper sutures and stitches will have been removed. Recovery time varies according to how good your physical condition is. Doing exercises like yoga, proper rest and a eating healthy diet accelerates the healing process. Scarring may take a whole year to lighten in color and flatten.