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Tummy Tuck: What You Need to Know About the Procedure and Recovery

A tummy tuck, also known as abdominoplasty, is a major cosmetic surgery procedure that involves removing excess skin and fat from the abdomen and tightening the muscles in the abdominal wall. This procedure is commonly performed on individuals who have experienced significant weight loss, have had multiple pregnancies, or have aging-related skin laxity and fat accumulation in the abdominal region. The goal of a tummy tuck is to create a smoother, flatter, and firmer abdominal profile and improve overall body contour. There are over 110,000 tummy tuck cosmetic procedures per year.

Tummy Tuck Surgery

What’s the tummy tuck procedure?

The tummy tuck procedure typically begins with an incision made just above the pubic bone, extending from hip bone to hip bone. Through this incision, the skin and underlying fat are lifted, and the abdominal muscles are tightened. The abdominal muscles are typically tightened by suturing them together, which helps to reduce the appearance of a bulging or distended belly. If there is a significant amount of excess skin, it may also be trimmed away.

Once the abdominal muscles have been tightened and any excess skin has been removed, the skin is re-draped over the abdomen and the incisions are closed with sutures or surgical staples. In some cases, liposuction may be performed in conjunction with a tummy tuck to remove stubborn pockets of fat and further enhance the results of the procedure.

Recovery from a tummy tuck

Recovery from a tummy tuck typically takes several weeks, and patients may experience swelling, bruising, and discomfort in the abdominal region during this time. To help minimize discomfort, patients are typically prescribed pain medication, and a compression garment is worn to help reduce swelling and support the abdominal muscles during the healing process.

While a tummy tuck can result in a significant improvement in the appearance of the abdominal area, it is not a weight loss procedure and should not be used as a substitute for healthy diet and exercise. Patients who are considering a tummy tuck should be at a stable weight and in good overall health, as obesity and other health conditions can increase the risk of complications and negatively impact the results of the procedure.

Risks of tummy tuck surgery

The most common risks associated with a tummy tuck include infection, bleeding, and unfavorable scarring. These risks can be minimized by choosing a qualified and experienced plastic surgeon and following all pre- and post-operative instructions carefully.

Another risk associated with a tummy tuck is the development of seroma, which is a collection of fluid in the abdominal cavity. Seroma can cause discomfort and delay the healing process, and may require additional surgical intervention to drain the fluid.

In some cases, patients may experience changes in sensation in the abdominal region following a tummy tuck. This can be temporary or permanent, and can range from mild numbness to complete loss of sensation. Patients who experience changes in sensation should inform their surgeon immediately, as this may indicate nerve damage.

There is also a risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the legs. DVT can be serious and even life-threatening if it becomes dislodged and travels to the lungs, so it is important for patients to be aware of the signs and symptoms of DVT and to report any concerns to their surgeon immediately.

Patients who have had a tummy tuck may also experience changes in skin pigmentation in the abdominal region. This can range from mild discoloration to significant changes in the color of the skin, and can take several months to resolve. In some cases, these changes may be permanent.

In addition, there is a risk of wound separation or dehiscence following a tummy tuck. This can occur when the incisions do not heal properly, causing the wound to open. Wound separation can result in increased pain and a longer recovery time, and may require additional surgical intervention to close the wound.

Another potential risk associated with a tummy tuck is the development of abdominal hernias. This occurs when the muscles in the abdominal wall weaken, allowing the intestines to push through the weakened area. Hernias can cause discomfort and may require additional surgical intervention to repair. Learn more about other risks of tummy tuck surgery.


Types of Tummy Tuck Surgeries

1.    Complete abdominoplasty

In this procedure, a cut is made between hipbones from one side to the other. Next, contouring of muscles, tissues and skin is done before the skin is stitched back. Extra folds of your skin are excised and your belly button is moved. This may need insertion of drainage tube beneath your skin for a couple of days.

2.    Partial or mini abdominoplasty

If the fat deposits are located below your navel, your doctor might go for partial or mini abdominoplasty. This procedure might not need moving your belly button and will take comparatively less time than complete abdominoplasty.

Preparation for tummy tuck surgery

Your doctor will need you to quit smoking at least two weeks before the surgical procedure and until two weeks post-surgery. Cutting down on smoking won’t do and you will have to completely cut back on smoking as it increases the risk of complications and delays the healing process.

Communicate with your doctor any medications, herbs or supplements that you are taking so that he can direct you to stop taking certain drugs some time pre and post surgically. You might also be required to take anticoagulants before the surgery to prevent blood clotting. Your doctor might recommend you to lose weight if you are obese for best results after the surgery. Shedding pounds after the surgery will diminish the results. Before your appointment for the surgery, prepare your home for what you’ll need after the surgery.

  • Get ice packs for yourself and arrange some loose clothes that can easily be worn and removed to avoid any discomfort
  • Have a hand-held shower installed in your bath if you don’t have one
  • Get a bathroom chair for yourself
  • Petroleum jelly should also be at hand

You should make sure somebody accompanies you for the surgery to help you after and drive you back home. Whichever type of procedure your surgeon chooses for you, you will have a cut and a stitch in your lower abdomen area that will have a bandage on. Take medications such as antibiotics prescribed to you after the surgery to avoid any infections. Follow the instructions laid down by your doctor to care for your bandage. A firm and elastic band will be used for the bandage to promote better healing. Follow you doctor’s instructions to position yourself in the right way when lying down, getting up and while sitting, to help alleviate pain. Find a tummy tuck surgeon near me

Be prepared to limit strenuous activities for a at least six weeks after the surgery so that good recovery is ensured in the earliest possible time. Make sure to see your doctor in the follow-up visits scheduled by your doctor.

Are you the best candidate?

Tummy tuck is suitable for you if

  • You are a man or woman in a good state of health without any co-morbidities like hypertension, diabetes etc.
  • You consider it as a last resort after trying everything else and do not consider it as an alternative regime to weight loss
  • You are a man or a woman having remains of fatty deposits and flabby skin that doesn’t respond to exercise after successfully losing weight due to obesity
  • You are a woman who has had multiple pregnancies that has resulted in jelly-like tummy plumping out with loose muscles and skin
  • You are a woman who is not planning any future pregnancies

Patients should have realistic expectations about the results of a tummy tuck. While this procedure can result in a flatter and firmer abdomen, it will not necessarily result in a perfectly flat or toned appearance. Patients should also be aware that a tummy tuck will leave a permanent scar, which can be concealed by clothing but will be visible when wearing a swimsuit or other revealing clothing.

Tummy tuck can be an effective way to restore confidence and improve body contour for individuals who are dissatisfied with the appearance of their abdomen. With the right surgeon, the procedure can result in a smoother, flatter, and more toned abdominal profile that can help boost confidence and improve overall body image.

Abdominoplasty Tummy Tuck References

Post-Bariatric Plastic Surgery: Abdominoplasty, the State of the Art in Body Contouring.

Abdominoplasty: Pitfalls and Prospects.

Abdominoplasty – StatPearls

Abdominal Contouring and Combining Procedures.