Abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) helps flatten the abdomen by removing excess fat and skin, and tightening the abdominal muscles. The best candidates for abdominoplasty are in good physical condition, with pockets of fat or loose skin that have not responded well to diet and exercise.
Tummy tuck surgery can also be appropriate for slightly obese people whose skin has lost some of its elasticity, and for women with skin and muscles stretched from pregnancy. Anyone planning on losing a significant amount of weight, and women planning on having (more) children, should wait before undergoing abdominoplasty.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Tummy Tuck surgery takes approximately 2.5 hours to perform; the patient is placed under general anesthesia. An incision is made low on the abdomen from hip to hip, so that the final scar can be covered with a bikini or once piece bathing suit. The skin and fat layers are lifted off the abdominal muscles, which are then stitched together tightening and flattening the abdominal wall. The excess skin and fat are then excised from the lower abdomen and the skin from the upper abdomen is then stretched down over the newly tightened muscles, resulting in a smooth, flat, tight abdominal wall. The incisions are then closed, and sterile surgical dressings are applied over the sutured areas.
Risks of a Tummy Tuck
In addition to the usual risks associated with surgery and anesthesia, risks associated with tummy tuck include the following:
- Unsightly scarring
- Some residual loose skin
- Numbness in skin sensation
- Need for revisional surgery
Patients who have had previous abdominal surgery may find that their old scars look more raised, have stretched or are more noticeable in general. Undergoing a scar revision may minimize their prominence.
Recovery After Tummy Tuck Surgery
After tummy tuck surgery, most people go home within about an hour. Pain medication is usually needed for about 7 to 10 days. Recovery time ranges from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the type of activity. Maintaining weight with a balanced diet and regular exercise provides long-lasting results.