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Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Abdominoplasty surgery, or “tummy tuck surgery,” is a cosmetic procedure that is used to thin and refine the waistline. The surgery is more complex than liposuction, as it involves the removal of excess fat and hanging skin from the abdomen and the tightening of the fascia muscles on the abdominal wall. If you are considering a tummy tuck to reshape your abdominal area, be sure to consult with a certified plastic surgeon to learn if you are a good candidate for the procedure.

Am I an Ideal Candidate for Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Your certified plastic surgeon can help you determine whether abdominoplasty is the right choice for you and your aesthetic goals. In general, ideal candidates for tummy tuck surgery share some important characteristics, which include loose, hanging, or sagging skin on the abdomen and/or a separation of the muscles in the abdomen wall.

Additionally, an ideal candidate for tummy tuck surgery is in good health, is a non-smoker, and has realistic expectations regarding the benefits and possible outcomes of abdominoplasty. He or she will also be within the ideal weight range for their height and body type and will understand the potential risk of complications during this surgery, as explained by their doctor.

Who is Not Recommended for Tummy Tuck Surgery?

Tummy tuck surgery is not for everyone, and patients should discuss their options with a certified plastic surgeon to determine whether this surgery is suitable for them. In general, candidates that suffer from certain illnesses or general health problems might not be suitable for abdominoplasty. Patients should discuss their health history in full detail with their doctor during the initial consultation and should complete all medical testing as per the doctor’s requests to determine whether the surgery is suitable for them.

Patients should not use abdominoplasty surgery to lose weight. Instead, tummy tuck surgery should be chosen as a last resort to remove stubborn fat and excess skin that is resistant to a normal diet and regular exercise. Patients should have maintained a healthy, stable weight for at least a year before their surgery. Patients that are pregnant or are hoping to become pregnant in the future should not have abdominoplasty until they have decided not to have more children.

Abdominoplasty Technique Options

There are various surgical techniques that a certified plastic surgeon might use during an abdominoplasty procedure. The one chosen for your surgery will depend on the physical characteristics and needs of the patient. In any case, there are two types of tummy tuck procedures: a full abdominoplasty and mini or partial abdominoplasty.

Determining which procedure is the right choice for you is an important step to take before deciding to have an abdominoplasty. Depending on the needs of the patient, the Plastic Surgeon and the patient will decide whether to do a complete abdominoplasty or a partial or mini abdominoplasty, which are the two techniques involved in a tummy tuck procedure.

Complete Abdominoplasty:
During this procedure, the surgeon cuts the abdomen from one hipbone to the other hipbone and then contours the skin, muscles, and tissue as needed. The belly button is placed through a new opening, thereby changing and re-centering its position. Complete abdominoplasty is usually ideal for those suffering from diastasis recti, a common post-pregnancy condition where the muscle wall is lax or has been separated and requires repair. The plastic surgeon will then suture the separated abdominal muscles together to tighten them and will also remove excess skin and fat tissue. Once this has been completed, the surgeon will replace the layer of skin over the exposed abdomen, re-create the navel opening, and close the incision with sutures.

Mini or Partial Abdominoplasty:
A partial abdominoplasty is done on individuals who have fat deposits that are located below the navel. This procedure takes less time than a complete abdominoplasty, and the surgeon does not usually move the belly button.

It should, however, be noted that a tummy tuck is not a weight loss procedure, but it is done after losing a large amount of weight or after pregnancy so as to tighten the abdominal muscles and get rid of the fat deposits as well as tighten the skin around the midsection.

Patients that have minimal abdominal muscle separation (diastasis recti) or have limited excess sagging skin might benefit more from a partial or mini tummy tuck than a full abdominoplasty, which is more invasive. In a partial or mini tummy tuck, the focus is on tightening the skin on the lower abdomen. No incisions or adjustments are made to the navel in a partial or mini tummy tuck, as opposed to a traditional or full abdominoplasty where the belly button is moved and recreated. This procedure is most helpful for body contouring and skin tightening purposes in cases where only the skin beneath the belly button is slightly sagging or has lost laxity after pregnancy or weight loss.

What Should I Do to Help My Recovery After Surgery (Post-Surgery After-Care)?

It can take anywhere from four to six weeks to recover completely after an abdominoplasty, depending on the invasiveness of the procedure. During this time, you will be advised to limit your activity and eliminate any strenuous exercise that might interfere with your healing process. Take time to get up and walk slowly around the house at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your blood flowing and prevent blood clotting. You will likely need to take a few weeks off from work and your usual daily activities.

It is critical that patients that have had abdominoplasty surgery follow the instructions given to them by their surgeon regarding their after-care. Whether your procedure consisted of a mini or a complete abdominoplasty, your doctor will have closed the incision made to your abdomen with stitches, and the wound will be covered in bandages. You will be carefully instructed on proper movement when sitting and lying down and how to keep from disrupting your stitches.

The Takehome Message

Remember, not only is your physical appearance on the line when you consider having plastic surgery, but you are also placing your health and well-being in the hands of your doctor. Talk to several surgeons and choose the one you feel the most comfortable with while making sure they have a lengthy track record of success in the surgery you are interested in having.

While the procedure itself can be slightly riskier than other cosmetic surgeries, today’s tummy tucks are generally safe and effective and boast a high satisfaction rate from patients that have had the surgery. If you are interested in improving your appearance with a thinner, firmer waistline, ask a board-certified plastic surgeon about abdominoplasty and whether the procedure might be suitable for you and your aesthetic goals.

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