Tummy tuck (abdominoplasty)
Abdominoplasty is a procedure that aims to reduce and rectify the anterior abdominal wall. The goal is functional and/or aesthetic.
A flat and well-toned abdomen is something many of us strive for through exercise and weight control. Sometimes these methods cannot achieve our goals.
Even individuals of otherwise normal body weight and proportion can develop an abdomen that protrudes or is loose and sagging. The most common causes of this include:
- prior surgery
- significant fluctuations in weight.
What tummy tuck surgery can't do
A tummy tuck is not a substitute for weight loss or an appropriate exercise program.
Although the results of a tummy tuck are technically permanent, the positive outcome can be greatly diminished by significant fluctuations in your weight. For this reason, individuals who are planning substantial weight loss or women who may be considering future pregnancies would be advised to postpone a tummy tuck.
A tummy tuck cannot correct stretch marks, although these may be removed or somewhat improved if they are located on the areas of excess skin that will be excised.
A tummy tuck is a highly individualized procedure. You should do it for yourself, not to fulfill someone else's desires or to try to fit any sort of ideal image.
In general, you may be a good tummy tuck candidate if:
- you are physically healthy and at a stable weight
- you have realistic expectations
- you are a non-smoker
- you are bothered by the appearance of your abdomen.
During your tummy tuck consultation be prepared to discuss:
- your surgical goals
- medical conditions, drug allergies and medical treatments
- current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
- previous surgeries.
Your plastic surgeon will also:
- evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
- take photographs
- discuss your options
- recommend a course of treatment
- discuss likely outcomes of the tummy tuck and any risks or potential complication.
The success and safety of your tummy tuck procedure depends very much on your complete candidness during your consultation. You'll be asked a number of questions about your health, desires and lifestyle.
The consultation is the time to ask your plastic surgeon questions.
It's very important to understand all aspects of your tummy tuck procedure. It's natural to feel some anxiety, whether it's excitement for your anticipated new look or a bit of preoperative stress. Don't be shy about discussing these feelings with your plastic surgeon.
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal, and you’ll have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of tummy tuck surgery are acceptable.
You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks.
Tummy tuck risks include:
- anesthesia risks
- fluid accumulation (seroma)
- poor wound healing
- skin loss
- numbness or other changes in skin sensation
- skin discoloration and/or prolonged swelling
- unfavorable scarring
- recurrent looseness of skin
- fatty tissue found deep in the skin might die (fat necrosis)
- deep vein thrombosis, cardiac and pulmonary complications
- suboptimal aesthetic result
- possibility of revisional surgery
- persistent pain.
These risks and others will be fully discussed prior to your consent. It’s important that you address all your questions directly with your plastic surgeon.
A tummy tuck procedure includes the following steps:
Step 1 - Anesthesia
Medications are administered for your comfort during the thigh lift surgery. The choices include intravenous sedation and general anesthesia. Your doctor will recommend the best choice for you.
Step 2 - The incision
A full tummy tuck requires a horizontally-oriented incision in the area between the pubic hairline and belly button.
The shape and length of the incision will be determined by the amount of excess skin. Once the abdominal skin is lifted, the underlying weakened abdominal muscles are repaired.
A second incision around the navel may be necessary to remove excess skin in the upper abdomen.
The upper abdominal skin is pulled down. The excess skin is trimmed and the remaining skin is sutured together. A new opening for the belly button is created. The belly button is popped through to the surface and sutured into position.
Step 3 - Closing the incisions
Sutures, skin adhesives, tapes or clips close the skin incisions.
Step 4 - See the results
Your tummy tuck will result in a flatter, firmer abdominal contour that is more proportionate with your body type and weight.