Abdominoplasty, better known as a tummy tuck, is a surgical procedure designed to eliminate extra fat, tissue, and skin from the tummy area. This surgery is done in both men and women today. Tummy tucks are especially popular among women who have children, as it can be particularly difficult to regain the pre-baby body.
Who is a Good Candidate for a Tummy Tuck?
Tummy tuck can be an excellent solution for people who struggle with loose or sagging skin around the belly. People who have tummy tuck surgery should be non-smokers and must be in good overall health. Patients should be at a stable weight for a year or more before the surgery. The surgery is most effective in people who are at or very close to their ideal weight. Good candidates generally include:
- Women who want to greatly reduce or eliminate their "pregnancy pouch"
- People who have lost significant weight and are now left with hanging skin in the abdominal area
- People who don't get the desired results from diet and exercise
- People who suffer from muscle separation in the abdominal area
Dr. Jeffrey Rau at Rau Plastic Surgery is happy to talk to patients about whether tummy tuck surgery is a good choice for them.
Tummy Tuck Techniques
The technique used for a tummy tuck depends on the amount of fat, tissue, and skin that must be removed and on how much muscle tightening is needed. The full tummy tuck incision is made in the abdomen, above the pubic bone. This horizontal incision typically goes from hip to hip in a full tummy tuck, and there is also a small round incision around the navel. In a mini tummy tuck, there is a single shorter scar, located above the public bone.
Mini Tummy Tuck Vs Tummy Tuck
A mini tummy tuck is a surgery in which mild to moderate loose and sagging skin can be removed. People who have a mini tummy tuck generally have loose skin only below the navel, and they have no abdominal muscle damage or very minimal muscle damage. This procedure may be a good choice for people who need a lesser degree of correction.
A full tummy tuck is usually the best choice for people who require a significant degree of correction. Patients who opt for full tummy tucks often have loose skin both above and below the navel, along with damaged abdominal muscles.
Preparing for a Tummy Tuck
Prior to tummy tuck surgery, patients typically need to have blood tests. Dr. Rau may recommend some short term medication changes before the surgery. This includes the avoidance of aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication, and herb based supplement since these can cause excess bleeding during surgery. If patients smoke, they should stop smoking prior to surgery.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Tummy tucks are performed while the patient is under either general anesthesia or IV sedation. In general anesthesia, the patient is completely asleep and will feel no pain or even be aware of what's going on. In IV sedation, the patient is awake but often dozes lightly. IV sedation patients won't be in pain but they may be somewhat aware of what's happening during surgery. A horizontal incision is made during the surgery, which allows for the removal of extra tissue and fat before the extra skin is excised. In some cases, the navel needs to be moved to achieve a better aesthetic result. If navel relocation is needed, something that is usually done during a full tummy tuck, a round incision moving around the navel is made to accomplish this. Tummy tucks are done on an outpatient basis, allowing patients to return home the same day.
Tummy Tuck Recovery
Patients should have someone bring them to the surgery and take them home afterwards. It's best if tummy tuck patients have a friend or family stay with them for a few days to help them during early recovery. Patients will be provided with a prescription for pain medicine after surgery, which can be taken to relieve pain in early recovery. As recovery continues, patients are generally able to transition to non-prescription pain relievers. Patients are also often given a short course of blood thinners to prevent DVTs. To support the abdomen properly, patients will wear a compression garment for a minimum of 2 weeks post-surgery. Patients are advised to avoid heavy exercise for a minimum of 6 weeks. Most people take anywhere from a few weeks to a month off work so they can recover as fully and successfully as possible.
Tummy Tuck Results: What to Expect
Results are obvious right after the surgery, and patients will often feel lighter because a considerable amount of skin, tissue, and fat was removed. Some degree of swelling will continue for 2 to 3 months, at which point the full results can be seen. One of the main factors in achieving the desired tummy tuck result is realistic expectations. Dr. Rau will work with each patient to help them understand what they can expect in terms of results. Most tummy tuck patients are very happy with their newly slimmed and contoured abdominal area.
Want to Learn More About Tummy Tuck?
The Rau Plastic Surgery team is here to help patients through the whole tummy tuck process, from consultation to recovery. Call the office anytime to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rau.