Tummy Tuck Surgery or Abdominoplasty – Overview
A cosmetic surgical procedure done to improve the appearance of the abdomen is known as tummy tuck surgery.
During a tummy tuck surgery also known as abdominoplasty the excess skin and fat are detached from the abdomen. Connective tissue in the abdomen also known as fascia is tightened usually with sutures as well. To create a more toned look the remaining skin is repositioned.
A tummy tuck surgery might be chosen if having excess fat or skin around the area of the bellybutton or a weak lower abdominal wall. Body image can also be boosted with a tummy tuck surgery.
Why is abdominoplasty done?
There are a number of causes of having excess fat, poor elasticity of the skin or connective tissue is weak in the abdomen. These can include:
- Changes in weight is significant
- Abdominal surgery, such as a C-section
- The natural body type
A tummy tuck surgery can be conducted to remove loose, excess skin and fat, and tighten weak fascia. A tummy tuck can also help in removing stretch marks and excess skin in the lower abdomen below the bellybutton. However, if the stretch marks are out the area a tummy tuck won’t be able to correct it.
The plastic surgeon might be able to incorporate the existing C-section scar into your tummy tuck scar if previously C-section has been done.
A tummy tuck can also be done in conjunction with other body contouring cosmetic procedures, such as breast surgery. If the fat removed from the abdomen was through liposuction, a tummy tuck may be decided because liposuction removes tissue just under the skin and fat but not any excess skin.
A tummy tuck surgery isn’t suitable for everyone. The doctor might be cautious against a tummy tuck surgery if:
- Planning to lose a significant amount of weight
- Considering future pregnancy
- Having severe chronic conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes
- Having a body mass index that is greater than 30
- History of abdominal surgery that caused significant scar tissue
Various risks can be associated with a tummy tuck, including:
- Risk of Fluid accumulation beneath the skin known as seroma. Drainage tubes may be left in place after surgery that can help reduce the risk of excess fluid. The fluid might also be removed by the doctor after surgery using a needle and syringe.
- Sometimes areas where the incision is done heal poorly or begin to detach. Antibiotics might be given during and after surgery to prevent an infection.
- The incision scar from a tummy tuck surgery can be permanent one, but is placed along the easily hidden bikini line. The length and visibility of the scar may vary from person to person.
- During a tummy tuck surgery, fatty tissue deep within the skin in the abdominal area might get damaged or dead. Smoking can increase this risk. The size of the area where the tissue might heal on its own or may require a surgical touch-up procedure.
- During a tummy tuck surgery, the repositioning of the abdominal tissues in the abdominal area can affect the nerves, and rarely, in the upper thighs. Some reduced sensation or numbness can be likely felt. This usually decreases in the months after the procedure.
A tummy tuck poses a risk of bleeding, infection and an adverse reaction to anesthesia like other types of major surgeries.
How to prepare
Initially, a discussion with a plastic surgeon will be done about a tummy tuck surgery. During the first visit, the plastic surgeon will likely:
- The plastic surgeon may review the medical history by asking questions about current and past medical conditions. The surgeon should be informed about medications being taken and if any past surgeries are done.
- Allergy to any medications should be informed to the doctor. The doctor may ask detailed questions about weight gain or loss if the tummy tuck is being done for weight loss reasons.
- To determine the treatment options, the doctor will conduct a physical examination of the abdomen. Photographs of the abdomen will be taken by the doctor for medical record.
- The reason for wanting a tummy tuck should be explained, and what are the expectations in terms of appearance after the procedure. The benefits and risks should be understood clearly, including scarring. Any previous abdominal surgery might limit the results expected.
Before having a tummy tuck following needs to be done:
- Smoking needs to be stopped as it decreases blood flow in the skin and can slow the healing process. In addition, smoking can increase the risk of tissue damage. Before surgery and during recovery the doctor may recommend stopping smoking.
- Avoid taking certain medications such as aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, which can increase bleeding.
- Ideally, a stable weight may need to be maintained for at least 12 months before having a tummy tuck. The doctor will recommend losing weight before the procedure if severely overweight. Significant weight loss after the surgery can decrease your results.
- Before the tummy tuck surgery shortly, a medication called anticoagulant to prevent blood clotting needs to be started.
- After leaving the hospital someone should be present to drive home and stay with you for at least the first night of the recovery at home.
A tummy tuck surgery can be conducted in a hospital or at an outpatient surgical facility. During a tummy tuck, general anesthesia will be given which makes the patient completely unconscious and unable to feel pain. In some cases, a pain-relieving medication will be given and be moderately sedated i.e. partially asleep.
Before the procedure
There are various procedures for a tummy tuck surgery, depending on the extent of change that is expected to see. During the classic tummy tuck, incisions are made by the plastic surgeon to remove most of the skin and fat between your bellybutton and pubic hair in a horizontal oval or elliptical shape. Connective tissue called fascia that lies over the muscles of the abdomen is then tightened with permanent sutures.
The skin will be repositioned by the plastic surgeon around the bellybutton. Your bellybutton will be brought out through a small incision and sutured in its normal position. The incision will be stitched together from hip to hip above the pubic hair and will leave a scar that falls along the natural crease within the bikini line.
An antibiotic during the procedure might be given to prevent infection.
It takes about two to three hours for the surgery to complete.
After the procedure
After a tummy tuck surgery, the incision in the abdominal and bellybutton will likely be covered with surgical dressing. Any excess blood or fluid can be drained through small tubes placed along with the incision site.
As early as the first day after a tummy tuck to help prevent the formation of blood clots the members of the health care team will assist in walking.
A moderate pain will be felt, which will be controlled by pain medication. Swelling in the surgical area is normal.
After the surgery for several days drains might be left in place. The doctor or other member of the health care team will assist and show how to empty and care for drains. An antibiotic might be continued as long as the drains are in place.
A blood-thinning medication will be prescribed by the surgeon for a short time after the tummy tuck surgery.
A supportive abdominal garment or binder will be worn for about six weeks after the tummy tuck. This will help in preventing fluid buildup and provides abdominal support while healing. The doctor will instruct on how to take care of the scar.
For the first six weeks after a tummy tuck, care needs to be taken while moving around. Positions that strain the incision line will need to be avoided such as quickly bending at the waist in order to prevent the reopening of the wound.
Regular follow-up visits will need to be scheduled. Doctor should be asked on how often the appointments needs to be scheduled
By removal of excess skin and fat and strengthening the abdominal wall, a tummy tuck surgery can give the abdomen a more toned and slimmer appearance.
Tummy tuck surgery outcomes are usually long lasting if a stable weight is maintained.
Generally, most people are satisfied how they look after the procedure which can take time, though. Diet and exercise can help in maintaining the results but the patient may not feel normal for months after the surgery.
Cosmetic surgery is not generally covered by the insurance companies that is done without a medical reason. If it is a case of a hernia that will be corrected through the procedure then insurance might be covered
Before the decision is made whether to get a tummy tuck surgery, insurance company needs to be contacted to get clarity on what’s covered and what’s not. If a case has to be made that the procedure is being conducted for medical reasons, the surgeon may be able to help by writing a letter to the insurer.