Full Tummy Tuck Surgery

A full abdominoplasty, also called a full tummy tuck or a tummy tuck with muscle repair, is the most invasive of all the types of abdominoplasty surgeries. It is reserved for those people who have very loose abdominal muscles and significant excess skin to be removed.

Lax abdominal muscles can cause you to have a pot belly or a sagging abdomen whether you are carrying extra weight or not or whether you have loose skin or not. There are two muscles that run vertically down the front of the abdomen from your lowest ribs and the bottom of your breast bone to your pubic bone. They are the rectus abdominis muscles, but often are just called the abs. The most important job of the abs is helping keep you upright, but they also flex the spine, as in a sit-up or crunch exercise. The pair of rectus abdominis muscles are parallel, but connected to each other by a line of fascia tissue called the linea alba that runs right down the center of the abdomen. They are crossed horizontally by three or four bands of fascia that cause the six-pack: or washboard seen in very fit individuals.

The connective tissue that makes up the linea alba can stretch and cause the two muscles to separate from each other. This stretching, called diastasis, can happen due to age, obesity, or pregnancy, but the result is a sagging belly that will not tighten up no matter how many crunches you do or how successfully you diet. The only cure is to have a full abdominoplasty or tummy tuck with muscle repair, in which a surgeon pulls the muscles together and overlaps the stretched-out fascia and sutures it in a seam running down the abdomen. This pulls in the loose abdominal tissue and strengthens the abdominal wall.

In a full abdominoplasty, the surgeon makes an incision from hipbone to hipbone. This incision usually curves down a bit at the center of the abdomen to just over the pubic region. It is placed this way so that it can easily be covered by underwear or a bathing suit bottom.

A full tummy tuck often involves what looks like a repositioning of the navel or belly button. Actually, the navel stays where it was; the skin around it gets repositioned. After the surgeon makes the incision, he or she will loosen the skin of the abdomen up to and past the navel (sometimes all the way up to the ribs). An incision is made around the navel to free it from the skin. The correction of the rectus abdominis muscles is then done.

Once this is done, the surgeon then pulls the loosened abdominal skin down and removes the excess skin and subcutaneous fat. He or she then makes a hole in the redraped skin and sutures the hole in the skin into place around the navel. The main incision is then closed.

A full abdominoplasty is one of the most extensive surgeries in cosmetic medicine. You may have to stay overnight in a hospital. The surgeon may also need to place surgical drains in the incision to help prevent the build up of fluid. A surgical drain is a small tube that leads out to a small container. Drains are usually removed a few days after your surgery. The surgeon will give you instructions on what to do with the drains.

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