Abdominoplasty, also known as a tummy tuck, is an operation that helps remove excess skin and fat, and restores weakened or separated muscles in the abdomen. It can be beneficial for many individuals with excess fat or skin in the stomach area, including those who are of otherwise normal body weight and proportion.

A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or exercise, and if you are planning significant weight loss (or planning to become pregnant), you should consult with your surgeon before scheduling this procedure. Here’s a look at cases where tummy tuck surgery might be right for you, plus how to prepare, recover and manage any risks involved.

Is it Right For You?

A few characteristics might make you a good candidate for an abdominoplasty:

  • • You’re physically healthy and maintain a stable weight
  • • You have realistic expectations for what tummy tuck surgery will and will not do
  • • You do not smoke
  • • You are bothered by the appearance of your abdomen

Preparation and Procedure

There are a few things you may be asked to do in preparation for tummy tuck surgery:

  • • Get a medical examination or certain laboratory tests.
  • • Adjust your current medications
  • • Quit smoking
  • • Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements, all of which might increase bleeding during surgery

If you’re having an outpatient abdominoplasty, arrange for someone to drive you to and from surgery and stay with you for at least the first night after the procedure.

Once you arrive at the surgery center, the steps will go as follows:

  • 1. Anesthesia: You may receive intravenous sedation or general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice.
  • 2. Incision: A full tummy tuck will require a removal of skin between the pubic hairline and the belly button. Once abdominal skin is lifted, the weakened muscles are repaired. Then, excess skin is trimmed, the remaining skin is sutured together and a new opening for the belly button is created. Finally, the belly button is moved through to the surface and sutured into the proper position.
  • 3. Closing incisions: Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips may be used to close the skin after incisions are made.
  • 4. Results: Discussed below.

Results and Recovery

For the first couple weeks after surgery, it may be hard to fully view the results due to swelling and your potential inability to stand fully upright until internal healing has finished. After this period, you should be able to stand up fully and view a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that matches more appropriately with the rest of your body type and weight.

Recovery includes dressings or bandages for your incisions, and possibly elastic bandages or compression garments to support the abdomen as it heals. Tubes may be temporarily placed under the skin to drain any excess fluid. Additional instructions you may be given might include:

  • • How to care for the surgical site and any drain areas.
  • • Medications to take topically or orally to help with healing and reduce infection risk.
  • • Specific issues to look for at the surgical site, or with overall health.
  • • When to follow up with your surgeon.

This is also the time to ask any questions you may have of your surgeon before being released.

Risks

You’ll have to sign consent forms before tummy tuck surgery to confirm that you understand the risks of the procedure. Risks may include:

  • • Anesthesia complications
  • • Bleeding
  • • Infection
  • • Fluid accumulation
  • • Trouble with wound healing
  • • Skin loss
  • • Numbness or changes in skin sensation
  • • Skin discoloration or prolonged swelling
  • • Scarring
  • • Recurrent skin looseness
  • • Death of fatty tissue found deep in the skin
  • • Deep vein thrombosis or other cardiac and pulmonary issues
  • • Asymmetry
  • • Imperfect aesthetic results
  • • Revisional surgery possibility
  • • Pain

Be sure to address these risks with your surgeon prior to surgery and ask any questions you may have about your individual risks. Speak to your doctor or plastic surgeon if you believe you might be a good candidate for abdominoplasty.

Our physicians are board-certified with the American Board of Plastic Surgery. We work with you toward your goals and make sure you feel comfortable throughout your cosmetic or reconstructive treatment.

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Sources:

“Tummy Tuck.” American Society of Plastic Surgeons. https://www.plasticsurgery.org/cosmetic-procedures/tummy-tuck

“Tummy tuck.” The Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tummy-tuck/home/ovc-20231128

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