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Tummy Tuck

Tummy Tuck (Abdominoplasty)

Abdominoplasty, or better known as "tummy tuck", is a surgical procedure designed to remove sagging, excess skin and fat from the middle and lower abdomen and to tighten the muscles of the abdominal wall. It is important to understand that a tummy tuck is not a weight loss procedure, or a substitute for exercise or a healthy diet.

People considering a tummy tuck should be in relatively good shape before undergoing this procedure. After pregnancy, abdominal muscles may become weakened and pulled apart in the midline area. Men may similarly be affected by weight loss. Men commonly acquire stretch marks after extreme stretching of the skin.

A tummy tuck can excise stretch marks and those remaining are tightened, making them less noticeable. This procedure creates an abdomen that is smoother, firmer and flatter. This in turn generates smaller appearing hips.

How is abdominoplasty performed?

There are several different abdominoplasty techniques.

The most common procedure is a full abdominoplasty in which an incision is made across the lower abdomen, just above the pubic area. Another incision is made around the belly button to free the surrounding skin, and is separated from the abdominal wall. The surgeon pulls the loose muscles from the left and the right sides and sutures them together. This tightens the muscles to create a stronger abdominal wall and a smaller waist. Excess skin is removed and a new opening is made for the belly button. The incisions are then closed with sutures (stitches) or staples, and gauze is placed over the incision area.

A less complex procedure, called a partial abdominoplasty is performed if your problem area is below the belly button. This procedure can often be performed on an outpatient basis, under local anesthetic, or in conjunction with liposuction to remove fat deposits from the hips, for a better body contour. Sometimes liposuction by itself is sufficient.

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How long does abdominoplasty take?

Operating time is generally two to three hours depending on the scope of your specific situation.

What type of anesthesia is used?

The procedure is performed using general anesthesia causing you to be asleep during the whole procedure.

Where is the procedure performed?

The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis, in the surgeon's office-based surgical suite, an outpatient surgical facility, or hospital.

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When can I return home and resume normal activities?

A full abdominoplasty requires an overnight stay. However, a partial abdominoplasty can be done on an outpatient basis. It is necessary that you have someone take you home after the procedure and stay with you for at least 24 hours.

It may take you several weeks to feel completely back to normal. Depending on your physical status, some people may return to work after two weeks, while others may take four weeks to six weeks to recuperate. Strenuous activities should be avoided for at least six to eight weeks.

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How do I prepare for abdominoplasty?

During your initial consultation, your surgeon will discuss the changes that you would like to make to your appearance. Since the appearance of your abdomen is a matter of personal perception and preference, you will need to discuss your concerns in detail so your surgeon can determine the appropriate alternatives. You also should make arrangements ahead of time for someone to drive you to and from your procedure and to assist you with your daily activities during your recovery period.

Prior to your surgical procedure, the surgeon will perform a complete health history and physical examination to evaluate your overall weight, your skin and muscle tone and the overall distribution of fat deposits. In particular your surgeon will ask you about any problems you have had with high blood pressure, blood clotting or a tendency to develop large scars.

Knowledge of your allergies, medications and previous surgeries should be brought to your surgeon's attention at this time. Specific instructions to assist you in preparing for this procedure will be given to you after the health history and physical is complete. Depending on your individual health status, the instructions may include guidelines regarding your diet, alcohol intake, smoking and which medications to take or avoid. Your experience will be much smoother if you remain compliant with your surgeon's instructions.

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What precautions are necessary during recovery?

You will receive specific instructions from your surgeon, which will include guidelines about your diet, drinking, smoking and what vitamins and medications to either take or avoid. You will also need to arrange for someone to help you with your daily activities after surgery.

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What are the possible complications after abdominoplasty?

The most common complication is a collection of blood or serum (seromas) under the skin of the abdomen (hematoma). A suction drain is placed under the skin during your procedure and left for about three days. Its removal is painless. Rare complications include infection and incision healing problems, including loss of skin and excessive scarring. As with most surgical procedures, small nerves to the skin are interrupted during a tummy tuck. Portions of your abdomen will feel numb or have less feeling.

Sensation returns over several months but some diminished feeling may last indefinitely.

After a complete abdominoplasty, you can expect a horizontal scar low on the abdomen and a circular scar within the belly button. Partial abdominoplasty does not leave a scar around the belly button. Your scars will be red or pink for six months and will gradually fade. You should be aware that all scars are permanent and their height, width, and final color are never completely predictable. It is always important to be informed about the possible complications before any surgery. Be sure to discuss any concerns you may have with your surgeon.

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What results can I expect after abdominoplasty?

You will experience some abdominal discomfort when the anesthesia wears off. You can also expect some pain in the incision, but this is alleviated with medication and gradually subsides with time. Bed rest for two to three days is recommended. You will be provided with a firm abdominal binder to offer support to the tightened areas. Your doctor will give you instructions for showering and for applying your dressings. Surface stitches will be removed in five to seven days, and deeper stitches will be removed in two to three weeks.

After about three days, you may begin light activities. You should begin a light exercise program to reduce swelling, lower the chance of blood clots, and improve muscle tone. However, vigorous exercise, especially weight lifting, should be delayed until you make a full recovery.

Your scars may appear to worsen during the first few months, but this is normal. It may take up to a year before your scars flatten out and lighten in color. As long as you keep your weight relatively constant, eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and follow your surgeon's instructions, the long-term results from this procedure are typically excellent.

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Choosing the right surgeon

To obtain further information regarding thigh liposculpture, we advise you to consult with a qualified and experienced board-certified plastic surgeon. Regardless of the type of procedure you are considering, it is crucial to choose the right surgeon for your individual goals. To receive a complimentary consultation with a specialist in your area, simply fill out our Online Referral Form or call Toll Free 800.434.6760.


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