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What Is A Tummy Tuck And How Is It Performed?

A tummy tuck, also known as an abdominoplasty, is a major cosmetic plastic surgery that flattens your abdomen by removing extra fat and skin, while also tightening muscles in your abdominal wall. The result is a flatter abdomen, and sometimes, a smaller waist, because the procedure corrects loose, sagging skin and excess fat. Any scars are usually located below the line of a swimsuit or underwear. While most people have a tummy tuck for cosmetic reasons, others have the surgery to correct weakened abdominal muscles that are causing medical problems, such as back pain. A full tummy tuck or abdominoplasty usually takes between two and four hours to perform.

What Kind of Results Can I Expect from a Tummy Tuck?

Both men and women get tummy tucks. The procedure is especially useful for women whose skin has stretched after more than one pregnancy. Patients considering a tummy tuck should have realistic expectations about the procedures and have an initial consultation with an experienced physician who explains the risks as well as benefits of the procedure. A person’s type of skin, overall health, weight and age can affect the outcome.

How Is this Procedure Performed?

A tummy tuck usually begins with a relatively long incision across the abdomen, from hip bone to hip bone. The shape of the incision is like a smile, with a flat bottom. The flat part of the smile occurs at the bottom point of the abdomen immediately above the pubic area. The sides of the smile form a gentle curve along the pelvis up to the top of the hip bone. A second incision is made around the belly button to free it from the abdominal tissue. The skin is separated from the abdominal wall, up to the ribs, exposing the vertical abdominal muscles (also known as rectus muscles). These muscles have usually been stretched apart by previous pregnancies. The rectus muscles are then stitched into a new position, tightening the muscles and reducing the waistline. After the muscles have been repositioned and tightened, the excess skin is stretched and removed. The remaining skin is put back over the abdominal area and sutured in place. The belly button is then brought out through the overlying skin in its new location.

Are There Any Variations to This Surgery?

Yes, there is a procedure called a mini-tummy tuck where the incision is shorter and usually the navel and the skin above the navel are not touched. Another variation would be the endoscopic tummy tuck, which is where the surgeon does the procedure through several small incisions while using an endoscope.

What Are the Risks Involved?

As with any major surgery there are always going to be some serious risks involved, which can include: anesthesia risks, tissue loss, infection, pneumonia, and even death. These potential complications can be handled if you carefully follow your surgeon’s pre and post-surgery instructions, including quitting smoking. Note that these risks are higher in people with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease, poor circulation or diabetes. In addition, people who have had another surgery recently in the abdominal region are at higher risk for complications.