The tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a cosmetic surgical procedure that is designed to give women a narrower, firmer, and flatter abdomen. Tummy tucks are meant to tighten the abdominal musculature that has been stretched and cannot be improved with an exercise regimen. The procedure is an excellent option for patients who have a protruding abdomen with excess skin, especially as a result of dramatic weight loss or pregnancy. When combined with liposuction, the abdominoplasty can also deliver contouring to achieve a desired stomach shape to flatter the woman’s figure.
Candidates for a Tummy Tuck
An ideal candidate for a tummy tuck is a women suffering with excess sagging skin around the stomach region caused by the effects of aging, weight loss, or pregnancy. Patients who are interested in receiving the abdominoplasty procedure should be in good overall physical and mental health, aware of the associated risks, and have realistic expectations. Tummy tucks are not substitutes for losing weight through natural means of a healthy diet and regular exercise routine. Before having the surgery, patients who are losing weight should be near their targeted goal weight. If women are planning to have more children, it is often recommended that they wait to postpone the surgery until after giving birth.
The Tummy Tuck Procedure
Unlike other tummy tuck techniques available, our preferred method is the high lateral tension abdominoplasty because it enables a more optimal placement of thinner scars. With the innovative procedure, our plastic surgeon, Mark Pinsky, MD, can guarantee that you will be able to easily conceal the scars within your underwear or bikini bottoms. The high lateral tension abdominoplasty also involves less undermining and loosening of the skin to ensure continued blood supply to the tissues in the area being operated on. Therefore, our tummy tuck procedure is designed to protect against unsightly scars and the risk of wound healing issues after.
Depending on the individualized plan that Dr. Pinsky implements to meet your specific needs and goals, the tummy tuck surgery can last between one to three hours. In order to begin the procedure, Dr. Pinsky will make an incision in the lower abdominal skin from one hip bone to the other, slightly above the pubic region. A second incision is made around the navel to free it from the surrounding tissues of the abdomen. Then, Dr. Pinsky will separate the excess skin from the muscles of the abdominal wall up to the ribs and begin tightening the weakened muscles. Similar to an internal corset, the muscles will be pulled close together and sutured in place for a tighter appearance. All extra skin is removed as the skin is stretched back down and the navel is placed in its new position. Finally, the incisions are sutured close and temporary tubes are inserted to allow fluids to drain easily. For your safety, you will be required to stay overnight in the hospital and receive numbing solutions or painkillers to prevent discomfort.
If you and Dr. Pinsky decide on a mini abdominoplasty to achieve your desired results, the procedure will be slightly modified. A shorter and smaller incision will be made above the pubic region, but it will not extend from hip bone to hip bone. Since the mini abdominoplasty is intended for women with weakened muscles in the lower part of the abdomen, only the muscles from the pubic bone to the belly button will be repaired. Although the mini tummy tuck does not tighten skin above the navel, it can be extremely effective for those needing to improve the contour of the specific targeted lower abdomen.
Preparing for Tummy Tuck Surgery
During your initial consultation, Dr. Pinsky will gather all of the vital information necessary to achieve favorable results to align with your particular goals. In the consultation, you and Dr. Pinsky will engage in an active discussion about your expectations, preferences, medical history, current medications, and any allergies. Since smoking, uncontrolled high blood pressure, blood clotting issues, and other health conditions can affect the procedure, it is essential that you share all of these details with Dr. Pinsky openly. At the consultation, you will also receive a comprehensive physical examination to assess your skin tone and sagging skin. It is also the perfect time to discuss whether other procedures you are interested in can be combined with the tummy tuck.
For a minimum of two weeks before and after your tummy tuck surgery, it is imperative that you do not consume any medications that contain ibuprofen, including Aspirin or Advil. Ibuprofen causes the blood to become thin, which will interfere with the normal blood clotting response and increase the dangers of excessive bleeding. In its place, it is suggested that you use medications that consist of acetaminophen for any painkiller needs. At least six weeks before the surgery, you should also stop smoking because it has been linked to slowing the healing process and constricting the blood vessels within the skin. Do not consume alcoholic beverages for a minimum of two weeks before, as well as after, the surgery. Make sure that you also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, low the amount of sodium in your diet to reduce swelling, and curb taking all vitamins for at least two weeks.
Recovering from Tummy Tuck Surgery
While those receiving a mini tummy tuck can typically return to work after seven to ten days, patients who receive the standard tummy tuck will need to wait two to three weeks before returning to normal activities. Bruising is commonly present right after the surgery, but it will usually disappear within the first three weeks. It is not unheard of for swelling to last up to nine months as well. Although skin sensations will gradually start to return, numbness in the operated abdominal area may last for a maximum of two years. It is normal for scarring to worsen for the first month or two; however, the scars will begin to flatten and become less noticeable after nine to twelve months.
After one to four days, the bandages will be removed and the drains will be taken out after two weeks. You will also be provided with a supportive binder garment to wear for a scheduled amount of time determined by the timeframe of your recovery. After the tummy tuck, you can expect to notice immediate improvements in your shape and figure, but the final results will be seen between six and twelve months.