Many patients seek a tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, for a variety of reasons. Candidates who intend to lose a lot of weight and/or are planning future pregnancies may want to postpone this procedure. Keep in mind a tummy tuck will only remove stretch marks on the piece of skin that is excised. This procedure is frequently performed in combination with liposuction to specific areas you want to have contoured.
This procedure can last between one to four hours depending on the method best for you: mini, or standard.
To begin, an incision from hipbone to hipbone is made above the pubic area. A second incision is made to free the navel from the surrounding tissue. Next, your surgeon separates the skin from the abdominal wall up to your ribs and lifts the skin to expose the muscles. If you have muscle separation, pulling your muscle closer together and suturing them will give a tighter look to your abdomen. The skin is then stretched down and the extra skin is removed. Your belly button is then repositioned and sutured in place. Finally, all incisions are sutured, dressings applied and temporary tubes inserted to drain excess fluids.
Partial Abdominoplasty (Mini Tummy Tuck)
To begin, a shorter incision is made above the pubic area. Your navel may not be moved but may be pulled into an abnormal shape as the skin is stretched and tightened. Skin is separated only between the incision line and your navel. The skin is lifted, stretched down and excess skin removed. Finally, the incision is sutured and dressings are applied. You may wish to include a limited muscle repair or liposuction.
Your initial consultation is extremely important. It is essential to discuss your expectations with your surgeon. Be prepared to provide your medical history and inform your surgeon of any vitamins and medications (including over-the-counter) that you are taking. Make sure to tell your surgeon if you smoke, have uncontrolled high blood pressure, allergies, blood clotting problems, or the tendency to form excessive scars because these problems can affect the outcome of your surgery.
Work: Most patients are back to work between seven to ten days for a mini tummy tuck and two to three weeks for a standard tummy tuck. If a high level of activity is required for your job, speak to your doctor about a time frame that will be appropriate for you to return to work.
Swelling and Bruising: Bruising will disappear after a few weeks; however swelling can remain for months. Abdominal numbing is expected and can last as long as six months or longer. Scars may actually appear to worsen for the first three to six weeks after surgery, but this is normal and to be expected. After nine to twelve months, scars will begin to flatten and lighten in color. Scars can be hidden by most clothing and bathing suits.
Showering: You may shower after your dressings and drains (if placed) have been removed.
Discomfort: Discomfort can be moderate. The tighter the tuck, the more discomfort you will feel. Pain medication prescribed by your surgeon can help minimize it, but if discomfort persists, contact your surgeon immediately.
Recovery: You should begin walking as soon as possible. This reduces swelling, lowers your chances of blood clots and tones muscle. Sutures may be removed ten to fourteen days after surgery. Bandages are removed after one to four days. Drains (if placed) will be removed after several days. Your surgeon may instruct you to wear a support garment for a recommended amount of time.
Results: Each patient heals and scars differently. It is vital to keep in mind that the results of this procedure vary from patient to patient. However most patients will enjoy their final result within six to twelve months.