Frequently Asked Questions About Tummy Tuck

 

Am I candidate for abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)?

What is abdominoplasty?

When is abdominoplasty usually performed?

What does a typical abdominoplasty consultation entail?

How is abdominoplasty performed?

What are the different incision techniques for abdominoplasty?

What should I expect postoperatively?

Is there much pain associated with abdominoplasty?

Where are the scars located?

Is there a lot of swelling?

When can I return to work?

When will I be able to see the results?

What are the risks of abdominoplasty?

How long does an abdominoplasty last?

 

Am I a candidate for abdominoplasty (tummy tuck)?
To be a viable candidate for abdominoplasty, an individual must be in good health, be free of any active diseases or serious pre-existing medical conditions, and have realistic expectations of the outcome of their surgery. Communication is crucial in reaching one's goals, so you must be able to voice your desires to your surgeon if he or she is to understand what your desired results are. You must also be mentally and emotionally stable to undergo a cosmetic procedure. Like most plastic surgery procedures, abdominoplasty requires patience and emotional stability during the healing period. There is sometimes a lull or depression after surgery, and if there is a pre-existing emotional problem this low period can develop into a more serious issue. Ideally, your skin should also be elastic enough to heal properly. If you are losing weight, you should wait until you are at or close to your goal before having abdominoplasty. Women are advised to postpone abdominoplasty until after they have completed their family.

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What is abdominoplasty?
Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, removes the excess abdominal skin and fat that accumulates after pregnancy, with obesity or age. A full abdominoplasty (often referred to as a tummy tuck with muscle repair) also tightens the abdominal muscles that may have become stretched out over time.

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When is abdominoplasty usually performed?
The abdominoplasty procedure is usually performed when a person is unhappy with the appearance of their abdomen. It is often sought by women who have given birth and do not plan to have any more children. Mini tummy tucks are considered less invasive and are for minimal correction cases.

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What does a typical abdominoplasty consultation entail?
The surgeon will measure your abdomen and general torso region to calculate an ideal abdomen size for you. The two of you will set realistic goals for what amount of correction is possible with a tummy tuck. Keep in mind that no amount of surgery can restore your skin to its former condition, although a tummy tuck may be able to remove some stretch marks and other scars.

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How is abdominoplasty performed?
Abdominoplasty is performed most commonly under general anesthesia or light sleep IV sedation. Local anesthesia is used to numb the abdomen. The surgeon makes an incision in the lower abdomen just above the pubis and running from hip to hip. It is usually hidden in the bikini line so that it is less visible. Fat is dissected all the way up to the bottom of the rib cage. The belly button is separated from the skin and most frequently all the skin and fat below the belly button is removed. In a tummy tuck with muscle repair, the muscles of the abdominal wall are sutured tight to flatten the surface of the abdomen. The skin above the belly button is drawn down to the pubis and sutured into position. A new hole is placed in the skin and the belly button is positioned in about the same spot that it existed before surgery. One or two drains are placed under the skin and exit below the incision on the pubis.

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What are the different incision techniques for abdominoplasty?
Abdominoplasty techniques differ in incision shapes and placement. Although most surgeons attempt to place the incisions in the most inconspicuous area, it is not always possible, so you should discuss incision placement with your surgeon prior to surgery. Incision options include horizontal and straight across, a 'V' or W shape, and a bikini cut.

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What should I expect postoperatively?
You are usually able to walk immediately after surgery and will be encouraged to do so 3 or 4 times a day for several minutes each time. However, you will more than likely not be able to stand up straight. The skin of the abdomen will be quite tight and you are usually instructed to remain bent over at a 45 degree angle for the first 4 to 5 days after surgery. Patients will often note some back discomfort due to this hunched-over posture, so ask your surgeon for a prescription for muscle relaxers. While the drains are in, you will be on bed rest with a very small amount of walking as outlined above. The drains will generally be removed 4 to14 days after surgery. You should take it easy for at least two weeks after surgery, longer if possible. An abdominal pressure garment may be placed around you during one of your postoperative appointments and you may be instructed to wear this for 3 to 6 weeks. Some swelling and discoloration are normal but generally minimal.

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Is there much pain associated with abdominoplasty?
The amount of pain associated with this procedure varies considerably. Some patients note a moderate amount of discomfort, while for others it is more intense. Patients will often note some back discomfort due to having to remain bent over; Valium is sometimes given to alleviate muscle spasms of the back and as a sleep aid.

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Where are the scars located?
This is not a scar-free surgery; in fact the scars may be quite severe depending upon the amount of skin thats removed, your body's ability to heal, your tendency to scar, the skill of the surgeon, and the technique used. When possible, most surgeons offer their patients a well-hidden horizontal or slightly bowed scar that can be covered by a standard bikini bottom. Be sure to discuss the incision types, techniques, and placement with your surgeon at your consultation.

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Is there a lot of swelling?
There is quite a bit of swelling involved with abdominoplasty. You must take into account that abdominoplasty is surgery that removes tissue, so swelling is to be expected.

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When can I return to work?
Healing from abdominoplasty takes time, sometimes months, but most patients can return to work after 2 weeks. This will depend on the type of job you have. Someone with a sedentary job may be able to return more quickly than someone with a more physical job. Discuss your individual situation with your surgeon.

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When will I be able to see the results?
You will start to see a difference once the swelling subsides. You must realize that the underlying tissues have been cut and that an abdominoplasty is considered a very invasive procedure. Do not rush the healing process and try to be patient as your body takes on its new shape.

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What are the risks of abdominoplasty?
As with any surgery, there are risks related to anesthesia, which should be discussed with your surgeon or anesthesiologist. There is also a risk of necrosis, which is when fat or tissue dies. Blood loss is a factor in some cases, as is developing a hematoma (blood clot) or infection. Another risk is pulmonary thromboemboli, which occurs when a blood clot breaks free and travels to the lungs. This causes breathing distress and possibly cardiac arrest or coma.

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How long does an abdominoplasty last?
This procedure can last for many, many years. If there are no large weight gains or pregnancies after the tummy tuck, the repairs will be relatively permanent.

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